In pre-Roman times modern-day Tarragona was inhabited by Iberians. Its Phoenician name of Tarcon was corrupted by the Romans into Tárraco.
The Roman city of Tárraco was the oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula and later became a major administrative and mercantile city in Roman Spain.
Current research tends to assume that Julius Caesar, after defeating Pompeius in the Battle of Munda, named this population a Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tárraco around the year 45 BCE.
Augustus made Tárraco the capital of Citerior Hispania in 27 BCE. After political reforms, it became the capital for Hispania Tarraconensis province.
Excavations have revealed parts of the Roman settlement from the foundation of the city in the Republican period (3rd century BCE) to the Early Christian Era.
The archaeological ensemble of Tárraco is one of the largest archaeological sites of Roman Hispania preserved in Spain today. Many of the Roman remains are fragmentary but nonetheless present a vivid picture of the grandeur of Tárraco as a Roman provincial city.
In 2000 UNESCO declared Tarragona a World Heritage Site based on two Criterion:
Criterion (ii): The Roman remains of Tárraco are of exceptional importance in the development of Roman urban planning and design and served as the model for provincial capitals elsewhere in the Roman world.
Criterion (iii): Tárraco provides eloquent and unparalleled testimony to a significant stage in the history of the Mediterranean lands in antiquity.