I am going to spend this Christmas in Tarragona and, even though you don’t know me, I am one of those people that they say lacks all the Christmas spirit, until I see the kids overjoyed with the presents that they want to ask the Three Wise Men or Santa Clause for, and it is at this very moment when I go through a metamorphosis that leads me to love my fellows from afar and count well the coins I have in my purse so I don’t overspend my tight budget.
I would like to recover the thrill of Christmas. I would like to spend Christmas in Tarragona. I’ve been told that there is an ice-rink in Plaça Verdaguer (from the 25th of November to the 8th of January), where families go with the kids to laugh at them every time one of them falls on their bottom and then they hug each other to heal the bruises.
I would like to see the re-enactment of the first Christmas in history, to see if my own being is moved, because this will be carried out in the city under the name of Anno Domini, with performances on Saturday the 17th and Sunday the 18th of December for just 10 Euro. It will be shown in Tarragona’s archaeological walkway, which seems to be a place full of the city’s history, and I will take advantage of it to forget my own personal past and take a step back to open my mind as to how I would have survived if I had had to live in Anno Domini. Maybe my story would be more similar to “Life of Brian” by Monty Python.
I would like to pull the “Nose Man’s” nose. And you would ask; what? Who? Yes! Every year, on the 31st of December, the Nose Man comes out, a mythological Catalan character that has as many noses as the days in a year and, because it is the 31st, he only has one nose left and he can easily blend in with everyone else… and that… gets up my nose.
I would like to see how those trying to be brave jump into the sea on the last day of the year just to get a little participants’ medal for the last dip of the year, lying to their families and friends saying it wasn’t so hard and encouraging them to share their daring and the likely emergence of the feared flu.
I would like to spend Christmas in this city where Their Majesties the Magic Kings arrive by sea at one of the most important ports in the country. Where they then parade with their pageboys and helpers throughout the city, handing out sweets. I want to have a battle during the parade with all the grandparents carrying umbrellas, which they use to mark their territory and then turn them inside-out to catch an enormous amount of sweets for their grandchildren and relatives, caught up in the Christmas spirit that the little smiles in their homes have rekindled in them. And in that way I will let myself get carried away with everything the city offers me and, finally, recover the thrill. And finish by saying that Tarragona, I like it.
THE WHOLE Nadal a Tarragona 2016 (PDF) PROGRAMME
Text: Sara García León
The Tarragona City Hall, through the area of Historic Heritage, has prepared a programme of activities to celebrate the XVI anniversary of Tarraco being declared a World Heritage Site. After this declaration, made on the 30th of November 2000, came the declaration of Intangible Cultural Heritage for the human towers and for the Mediterranean diet. Moreover, Tarragona is also included in the World Heritage for its eastern coast cave paintings. Therefore, Tarragona is a truly privileged city in acknowledgments towards its extremely rich historic heritage in the broadest sense of the term.
It is therefore right that we celebrate it and that we do so with a programme that, from the 30th of November to the 4th of December, will have diffusion, participation, accessibility and reflection upon the value of heritage and its cultural, recreational and social nature as its main themes.
We begin with the presentation of the app, Tarragona Accessible, an accessible guide created by the Group of Spanish World Heritage Cities, which is an advance on the way to having heritage and tourism for everyone. On the same day, the city will award the Tarraco Prize in recognition of the tasks carried out regarding the conservation, preservation and diffusion of Tarragona’s world heritage, a new award that comes about with the intention of placing value on the efforts made by the people and entities who work for our heritage. In the participation section, we would highlight the presentation of the conclusions reached from the Civic Tarraco participative project and the start of a new participative process regarding the uses of historic heritage, which will begin with a debating session on the 2nd and in which we can participate either in person during the session or through the Internet with the Messagenes platform.
The celebration continues on the 3rd and 4th with the events of a more diffusive and recreational nature, with open day sessions throughout Tarraco’s archaeological sites, historical re-enactments beside the monuments themselves, guided visits and an open day session at the new area that can now be visited inside the Cathedral: the Exedra Romana room.
We would encourage you to have a look at the events programme and to enjoy these days of celebration, but to also have a spirit of reflection about the responsibilities and the importance of conserving and diffusing the deep cultural and social meanings entailed in our heritage. In short, a programme that is open to everyone, for both our citizens and for visitors who, we are sure, will make an even greater contribution to the appreciation of our cultural heritage, which is a true symbol of identity for the entire region. We therefore invite you to participate and to enjoy our, your heritage.
We are set in the Rome of the 70dc, which is bursting with excitement by the news coming from the overseas. Titus Flavius Vespasian, the Emperor Vespasian’s son, has beaten, after seven years of war, the so-called revolt of the Jews. After this triumph, he devastates and plunders the second temple of Jerusalem, and in its place he installs the Legio X Fretensis headquarters. There is honour and money for the needing coffers of the Empire’s capital. With their work done, the accomplishment and the highest honours, Titus Flavius sails from Alexandria to Rome where his father prepares a godly welcome.
Those of you who will be in Tarragona’s amphitheatre on Friday the 5th or Saturday the 6th of August will be able to enjoy a live show related to the historical re-enactment of ‘A Triumph in Rome: The celebration of a military victory‘ which is going to be starred by local groups as Projecte Phoenix, Nemesis Arq and Thaleia accompanied by the principal research music group, the Italian Ludi Scaenici. ‘A triumph in Rome‘ is the main novelty and the highlight of this edition of Tarragona Living History.
But what was the Triumph about? The Triumph was the solemn arrival of a victorious general in Rome, who wanted the country to reward their efforts, recognize and prize their achievements. It is itself a religious festival, an official act of thanksgiving to the Maximum Optimal Jupiter winner, the patron of the city.
However, the survival of this triumph is still alive in our culture. Isn’t Barça’s parade a triumph, when it wins the Champions League? Even the popular procession of Santa Tecla’s festivities is an evolution of the Roman triumph.
Did you know that there is a documented list of triumphs, from the archaic age until the 19 BC?. This list, called fasti Triumphalis, was exposed to the travellers on one of the walls of the region (Maximum Pontiff’s home). The list is still being preserved today in the current Palace of the Conservatives at the Capitoline Museums of Rome.
The triumphal parade (the pump):
What was it like, the triumphal pomp? Did it follow any guidelines at all?
On the day agreed by the Senate or the Emperor, the victorious general, who had been waiting (sometimes for months) at Campus Martius with his army, entered Rome which had been embellished with all the traditional ceremony’s elements. The parade began entering Rome by the so-called Triumphalis door, the position of which is unknown, but that would probably be the oldest door in the city. Then the procession continued to the Circus Flaminius, Boari Forum, the Circus Maximus, the Via Sacra, crossing the Roman Forum and ended up at the Capitol in front of the temple of Jupiter.
Every single spot in the city: the streets and squares, were decorated with garlands, the temples were open and all the platforms raised towards the sky, clambered by columns of incense.
The Delegation was headed by many senators and judges who were representing the Senate and Rome’s inhabitants, who thus followed a band of trumpets. Then, there came the wagons –carrying spoils and the booty taken from the enemy–. This demonstration of strength and power was accompanied by banners with a list of the cities and territories which had been conquered, followed by wreaths bearers and gold bidders offered to kings and peoples allies.
The following Command in the parade were the bulls and animals which had to be slaughtered. Bulls should be white or with a white spot on their heads. They wore golden horns and a triangle representing an eagle, the Jupiter’s symbol. And, after the animals, there were the enemy leaders and other prisoners who, once arrived at the Capitol, were executed the first ones, and sold as slaves the second ones.
Then there came the lictors with the fasces, the vase bearers, some ‘pebeters’ with their perfumes, and musicians, who preceded the car of the winner –drawn by four white horses–. This one was dressed up in palmate tunic (a purple tunic with golden palm patterns) and the toga picta (a golden geometric gown with stars). On their heads, they wore a laurel wreath (the symbol of Mars) on their left hands, they carried a branch of laurel, and on their right hands a sceptre with an eagle, the symbol of Jupiter. Their faces and hands were painted orange, after the colour of the original terracotta statue of Jupiter and the immortal’s colour. All this was known as the ‘’ornatus jovis’’ or as the ‘’ornatus triumpahlis’’; and once the pump was returned to the temple of Jupiter, it was safely kept.
The soldiers closed the pump with its distinctive decorations and laurel wreaths on their heads. The legionnaires went on shouting: Io triumphe! (Here the victory!).
Once the pump was over at the Capitol, the victor sacrificed the victims (bulls) and then a banquet was offered to their guests, one for the senators and magistrates, and another for their soldiers, friends and the inhabitants in general. While the festival initially lasted one day, to increase the spoils of the war, the victor could extend general celebrations.
The victory that will be recreated on the 5th and the 6th of August at Tarragona’s amphitheatre does not refer to anything in particular, although a large part has been taken from the Arc de Triomphe –built in honour to the emperor Titus for his victory over the Jews and the texts of Flavi Josep (“The Jews’ war”)–. Will you dare to miss it?
PROGRAM OF TARRAGONA HISTÒRIA VIVA
Do you like castells? Would you like to know how a castells colla (group) is set? How about taking part on a guided tour that would take you round the main castells sceneries in Tarragona from the very origin? A brand new edition of the “Tarragona, Ciutat de Castells” festival is back –until 2 October, when “Concurs de Castells de Tarragona” competition (aka “Biennal de Castells”) takes place–. This a pioneering idea born back in 2013 with the intention of getting the city known on an international level –making the world of castells more accessible to those citizens and tourists not belonging to a local colla–, but also capitalizing one of the main cultural and tradition-related appeals of our country: castells, declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The 2 most successful activities –performances on Wednesdays and guided tours into the colles’ premises– will once again become the main attraction of this 2016 official programme. Thus, on every Wednesday of July, August and September, users will have the opportunity to admire single performances by the 4 main local colles: Xiquets de Tarragona, Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona, Xiquets del Serrallo and Castellers de Sant Pere i Sant Pau. The events will take place at 20h, in Pla de la Seu or Plaça de les Cols, just opposite the Cathedral.
In the same way, Tuesday evenings will provide those willing to know even more about this activity exciting guided tours into the premises of both Xiquets de Taragona and Colla Jove Xiquets de Tarragona during their rehearsal sessions, but also to the main castells-related spots in the city. All guided tours will start at 20h and will last 2 hours.
Do you see yourselves as one of the first Early Christians of Tarraco sneaking across the streets in Part Alta afraid to be discovered? Are you keen on finding out the way prostitution was structured back in the Roman period? Would you like to attend a supper and a medieval concert with music instruments of that time? And how about enjoying a history re-enactment event in the Amphitheatre of Tarraco about a military victory of the ancient Rome?… Between 15 July and 3 September, it’s time for a brand new edition of the Tarragona Historia Viva festival, which includes history re-enactment shows in some of the main local monuments declared as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, such as the Amphitheatre, the Roman Circus, the walls or the Aqüeducte de les Ferreres. Of course, summertime in Tarragona is much more than superb weather, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, walking about or trying the best gastronomy; summertime in Tarragona will bring you back in time while learning about singular stories that will definitely move you.
For instance, you’ll get to know gladiators that would do anything for their own personal glory, or walk around with urban militias that would give their lives to protect the Tarragona of 1800, or get to see, with your own eyes, how the Roman Aqueduct was built.
All the activities will be held on every Friday and Saturday evening, except for music concerts by Ludi Scaenici, one of the most established groups of the Tarraco Viva festival and, surely, the best specialists in sounds and music instruments from the Ancient Rome. Ludi will offer 2 concerts, on Thursday 4 and 11 August.
One of the other main local entities of the Roman world is the also Italian Instituto Ars Dimicandi. They will train those attending in the gladiatorial art, that is the fights, a very appealing and essential show that will certainly demystify everything we’ve seen in Hollywood movies. Ars Dimicandi will perform on 12, 13 and 14 August, on a show slightly different to the one they usually bring to Tarraco Viva. This will be the only foreign participation in the activities catalogue of the Tarragona Historia Viva festival, as most of its re-enactment groups are actually from Tarragona.
In this sense, a particular shows deserves our special attention: a recreation of a military victory of the Ancient Rome, which will be held in the Amphitheatre of Tarraco, on 5 and 6 August. This show, which will gather the 3 local history re-enactment groups (Projecte Phoenix, Nemesis ARQ and Thaleia, with music by Ludi Scaenici) will become of the main attractions of this year’s edition. It is expected to gather up to 400 people in each one of the 2 sessions scheduled, becoming one of the main projects of a festival that will certainly move one step forward this year.
As for pricing, in all cases, it’s 12€ per show, apart from the Gastromusicae –the Medieval music and supper due on 2 and 3 September in Antic Ajuntament–, which will cost 25€. All activities of the Tarragona Historia Viva festival can be followed in both Catalan and Spanish, with English and French commentaries. Tickets, limited to the capacity of the shows, are already available and can be purchased at www.tarragonaturisme.cat/en, in any of the 3 Tarragona Turisme tourist offices (Antic Ajuntament, Rambla Nova and Camp de Mart), and in the very same show premises, 1 hour prior to every show’s start time.
‘TARRAGONA HISTORIA VIVA’ PROGRAM
Doctor Katsuyuki Takenaka, professor of Human Geography at the Department of Foreign Studies at Aichi University, has flown over 13.000km in order to get from Japan to Tarragona and study the interaction model existing between citizens and historical heritage set by Tarraco Viva. Takenaka, who is undertaking an academic research paper, found “universal values represented in a very creative way” in the historical dissemination festival of Tarragona and was surprised about, not just the high level of commitment towards scientific rigour taken by the organisation, but also towards seduction and public engagement. “This is a model that should be taken into consideration in other parts of the world that have ever thought about revitalizing patrimony as collective memory and identity spaces”, says Takenaka.
Katsuyuki, Katsu among his friends, got his specialization by doing some research about the interaction existing between citizens and the physical environment they inhabit. Some years ago, he undertook a study in the Japanese embassy about interior migration in Spain, and it was then that he got to discover Catalonia, a territory he has visited a number of times ever since, specially the Tarragona area, to which he got hooked seven years ago. Experiences and lessons learnt on his trips, he says, have improved his scientific knowledge and allowed him to provide other cultural perspectives rather than the Japanese.
Katsu is not the typical Japanese tourist paying tribute to Gaudi’s brilliance as part of a group. He carries a camera, yes, but he travels alone, learns by himself, and speaks a faultless Catalan, consolidated by sticking his nose in Geography books in Japan and perfected during a stay in Vilafranca. This is not his first time in Tarragona and, if Tarraco Viva wasn’t held during university’s busiest time of the year, he’d manage to come back in future editions. “Tarragona is a city open to contrasts, a node with high capacity of integration. It was built throughout the centuries thanks to cultural fusion, with the harbour as a leverage effect in trade, and working as a meeting point for people from all over the Mediterranean area. Even today, there are many people that were born abroad, but still, the level of cohabitation and social balance is very high”, he states.
He is currently working on a study that will arise different action proposals to restore the use and citizen appreciation of Nagoya’s city canal, which was built a hundred years ago as an industrial transport of goods, but was closed some decades ago.
Katsuyuki got many new ideas in Tarragona. “I incorporate ideas about how people see their city, and how the different patrimonial spaces interact, not just with the personality of every individual, but also with how these end up creating a common identity”, explains. According to this academician, whose research project is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of Japan, “the only way to get an economic advantage from heritage is by making it valuable to those that live around it. Not doing it would lead to trivialisation and loss of interest”.
By means of historical dissemination –by publicly reinterpreting the events and lifestyle of the Romans in emblematic locations of the city– Tarraco Viva intends Heritage to become a driver for social wealth and cultural industry. The target is to complete a large virtuous circle: to generate new resources with this event, so that they can then be allocated to preserve monuments and promote Historical research and dissemination. “Catalan and Japanese people resemble in a way: we both love a job well done; and Tarraco Viva proves that point”, he ends.
“If history was told using dialogs, no one would ever forget it”, wrote the first English Noble Prize, Rudyard Kipling. Tarraco Viva Festival, which is based on this philosophy –telling history using a story–, opens this Sunday under the heading “Roma i Egipte, una fastinació mediterrània” (Rome and Egypt, a Mediterranean fascination). The director of the festival, Magí Seritjol, hints this year’s edition is a statement of intentions of what we can expect in the next years: “We’d like to present, not just the history of Ancient Rome, but the encounter of the two largest classic Mediterranean civilizations”.
Tarraco Viva offers, between 15 and 19 May, a time travel to takes us back to the Roman and Egyptian worlds. Overall, it’s 124 activities, which add up to 436 events, designed with educational purposes in mind. The Praetorium, Amphitheatre, Circus, Forum of the Colony and Walls, will home most of the programmed activities, despite the fact that, as usual, others will take place in towns such as Constantí, Altafulla, Cambrils, Falset or Porrera, to we add which Vila-rodona’s columbarium this year.
The opening ceremony, due on Sunday 15 May in the Sarcophagus room of the Roman Praetorium, will present a debate concerning the relationship existing between these two civilizations that happened to meet in time, with the intervention of several experts in the field: URV’s professor, Joaquín Ruiz de Arbulo; journalist, Enric Calpena; Barcelona Egypt Museum’s curator, Luis Manuel Gonzálvez; URV’s Greek Philosophy teacher, Jesús Carruesco, and the festival’s director, Magí Seritjol, as the debate’s moderator.
Among the different activities programmed, we can find a bit of everything: guided tours, open days to museums, workshops and games, lectures, school activities, audiovisual projections, dramatic readings, concerts, food tastings and successful historical re-enactments. Concerning the latter, there’s two new ones related to this edition’s tittle, whereas others will recreate funerary banquets, feminine prostitution in Rome, gourmets of the antiquity, or the celebrated Ars Dimicandi, with their gladiators shows, or the Ludi Scaenici, which will bring back the Ancient Rome’s music.
The festival will end on Sunday 29, at 6pm, with a spectacular event, due in the Sala August, Palau de Congressos in Tarragona, where users will have the chande to admire the re-enactment performance “Mirades d’Eternitat. Els retrats del Faium” (Eternity gazes. Faium’s portraits).
Pictures: ©Manel R. Granell