The Costa Dorada, on the southern shores of Catalonia, is an in-the-know holiday destination among Spaniards, but not as well known among tourists from outside the country. It’s a beautiful region, combining heavenly golden beaches gifted with much sunshine and a patchwork of fields and villages. The Costa Dorada’s quiet charm makes holidays here a great choice for the over-50s. Costa Dorada hotels represent great value for money and all-inclusive holidays could be a common sense option.
This coast is also full of history so if you like to get under the skin of a destination and discover what life was like here in times gone by, you will find plenty to fascinate you. Here are some of our favourite blasts from the past in this enchanting part of Spain:
This pretty port town contains a wealth of fascinating historical remains. It’s one of the foremost Roman sites in Spain and the ruins include a large and dramatic seaside amphitheatre with a forum where you can make out part of the circus where chariot races were once held.
Take a wander down the cobbled streets of its medieval Old Town and stop at one of the many fine restaurants. The cathedral features a striking mix of Gothic Romanesque architecture and don’t miss the town’s engrossing archaeological museum, displaying many of the Roman artefacts discovered here, including pottery, frescoes and sculptures.
This lively resort has a great deal to satisfy art history buffs. The Museu Cau Ferrat, home of the artist, writer and prominent modernist, Santiago Rusiñol, provides a fascinating glimpse into a moment in artistic history captured at its peak. While you’re here, don’t miss the lavish, neoclassical Museu Romàntic Can Llopis, a treasure-trove of historical artefacts and artworks from the area.
After 20 years of excavations, archaeologists have managed to reconstruct this seaside resort’s Iberian fort, dating back to between the 6th and 1st centuries BC. The result is a unique snapshot of life and customs in a time long past. The medieval old town is definitely worth exploring, particularly the 11th century Castle of Santa Creu, which features an excellent multimedia historical presentation. You can also go on a guided tour at dusk, with floodlighting giving an atmospheric flavour of how the place would have looked in its prime.
The Moorish castle of Miravet perches prettily next to the River Ebro. The panoramic views from the turrets of the surrounding countryside are matched in quality by the extensive exhibits inside, which give plenty of background about the history of this grand fortress, rebuilt by the Templars in the 12th century. You could combine your visit with a boat trip on the River Ebra for a pleasantly well-rounded day out.
This lovely town is saturated with history, charm and atmosphere. The city is dominated by the Castle of Sant Joan, which dates back to Roman times. There’s also a beautiful 14th century cathedral, as well as a 13th century convent. The town has a number of great Renaissance palaces open to the public which contain artistic pieces to view from that period.
The popular resort of Salou was used as a port by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the town has plenty to intrigue history buffs, including Torre Vella, built in 1530 to protect the town from pirates, but now housing an art gallery. There’s also the 18th century Santa María Del Mar church, built for sailors and their families and decorated with frescos inside.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 12th century Cistercian abbey is a majestic complex of buildings in the foothills of the Prades Mountains. Experts believe it’s architecturally brilliant and it includes a series of additions and alterations over the years, amounting to an interesting record of the potted history of Spain. The complex also contains a series of masterful frescos and sculptures.
You will be transported back to the Middle Ages when wandering about the excellently preserved walls of Montblanc’s Old Town. Don’t miss the Gothic churches of Sant Miguel and Sant Marcel, and Convent de la Serra, which offers excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
A cable car up the mountain of Montserrat, some 1,200 metres high, might seem a trifle adventurous, but it’s worth it when you reach the majestic Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat that nestles among its peaks like a Tolkien fantasy castle. The structure dates back at least as far as the 9th century, and the 12th-century statue of the Black Madonna is its most popular feature as it is believed to have granted countless miracles over the centuries. The views are little short of miraculous too.