From the south side of the Plaza de la Fuente the Bajada de la Misericordia (Catalan Baixada Misericòrda) and its continuation, the Calle Mayor (Carrer Major), the old main street of the Roman town, ascend to the Cathedral.The Cathedral, mainly built in the 12th and 13th centuries on a site which had previously been occupied by a Roman temple of Jupiter and later a Moorish mosque, is one of the most splendid examples in Spain of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic. On the west front (begun 1278; upper part unfinished) is a deep Gothic doorway with rich sculptural decoration, flanked by massive buttresses, above which is a magnificent rose window. The Romanesque side doorways are also very fine. The oldest part of the Cathedral is the fortress-like apse.
Cathedral - Interior
The interior of the Cathedral creates an impression of great austerity. Over the crossing is an octagonal dome, and in the transepts are fine rose windows of 1574. The choir (14th C.) has carved stalls of 1478-93 and an organ of 1563. To the right of the high altar is the tomb of Archbishop Juan de Aragón, who died at the age of 33. At the end of the south aisle is the pentagonal Capilla de los Sastres (14th C.), with wall paintings and an Early Gothic altar dedicated to the Virgin. The Capilla de Montserrat in the north aisle has a very fine retablo by Lluis Borrasà. There are other richly decorated chapels of various dates and styles.
Cathedral - Retablo
The dominant feature of the Capilla Mayor is the retablo (by Pere Joan, C. 1430), with statues of the Virgin and Child and SS Paul and Thecla.
Cathedral - Cloister
To the left of the Capilla de los Sastres a finely carved Romanesque doorway leads into the Cloister (begun in 13th C.), one of the finest in Spain. The beautifully laid out cloister garth, shaded by trees, is surrounded by large Gothic arches, each enclosing three smaller round-headed arches. In the west wing is a mihrab (prayer niche) from the mosque which once stood on this site.
At the northeast corner of the cloister is the Diocesan Museum, with ecclesiastical vestments, 52 tapestries of the 15th-17th centuries and ancient and medieval sculpture.
Adjoining the cloister the little 12th century church of Santa Tecla houses the Diocesan Museum's collection of gravestones and sculpture.
Palacio Arzobispal (Palau Arquebispal)
To the north of the Cathedral, in the Plaza del Palacio, stands the early 19th century Archbishop's Palace. Adjoining the palace is an old defensive tower, the Torre del Arzobispo, standing on the highest point in the town, on the site of the Roman castrum (fine views). In the courtyard of the palace are a number of gravestones.
Map of Tarragona Attractions