Tortosa’s rich heritage spans back over more than two thousand years of history. The city has been declared a Historic and Artistic Site.
In ancient times, Tortosa was a Mediterranean city that served as both port and a market for receiving and distributing products from the inland region of the peninsula and from all around the Mediterranean.
When occupied by the Romans, walls were built around the city and it was renamed Dertosa.
In the 8th century, the city was conquered by the Moors and the long period during which the city was under their control had a strong and profound influence on it. In the 11th century, it became an extremely important taifa (Muslim-ruled principality).
The eminence of this taifa came to an end in 1148, when Tortosa was conquered by Ramon Berenguer IV, the Count of Barcelona. The city’s three ports eventually controlled the wheat and salt trade in the western Mediterranean region. The city became a crossroads of the territories that comprised the Crown of Catalonia-Aragon and one of the large cities that was often the site of the Courts of the Crown of Aragon.
The expulsion of the Jews (1492) and, to a lesser extent, the Moors, (17th Century) had a very damaging impact on the economic life of Tortosa.
In the Catalan Revolt known as the Reapers’ War (Guerra dels Segadors) in 1640, the city soon fell into the hands of the Spanish, who were expelled by the French soon afterwards (1650). This was a period of political and cultural decline for Catalonia.
In the War of Succession, when Felipe V took control of the Kingdom of Valencia (18th Century), Tortosa fell with it.
The 19th Century began with the Napoleonic invasion, when a large part of the territory, including the whole of Catalonia, was wrested away from the Spanish Empire and incorporated within the French Empire until 1814.
Despite losing territorial unity, with the capital being moved to Tarragona in 1833 as a result, the century was notable for the continuance and growth of creative activity within the cultural sphere, as well as the impact of the Carlist Wars.
Tortosa was among the cities worst affected by the conflict of the Civil War in 1936, set against the dramatic and bloody backdrop of the Battle of the Ebre.
Still today, the municipality of Tortosa covers a considerable area of 219.6 Km2, although it is no longer one of the largest in Catalonia since the segregation of the towns in the Delta.
The Principality’s main historic town in the south, Episcopal See and the capital of the county of Baix Ebre, the city, which was historically located along the left bank of the river, has now spread out along both banks. On the left-hand side, in the shadow of the Castell de la Suda, there is the historic centre, the Eixample districts and the villages of Bítem and Campredó. On the right, we find the neighbourhood of Ferreries and the villages of Jesús, Reguers and Vinallop.
Key features of the municipal economy include a significant primary sector and the fact that it is a supra-county commercial and service hub.