Costa Daurada is the name given, in the world of tourism, to the stretch of coast lying east and west of the city of Tarragona —and its hinterland—, between Cunit and L’Hospitalet de l’Infant. It has few hills, long beaches of fine golden sand —hence the name “golden coast”— and shallow waters.
The economic and demographic hub of the Costa Daurada is the Tarragona-Reus-Salou triangle, a conurbation at the heart of the natural region of Camp de Tarragona which is subdivided into three comarques: Tarragonès, Alt Camp and Baix Camp. The coastline is completed by a fourth comarca, Baix Penedès. The mountainous hinter-land, arguably one of Catalonia’s most unexplored regions, comprises the small wine-producing, profoundly agricultural comarca of Priorat, and Conca de Barberà, surrounded by hills and bordering on the cereal-growing lands of western Catalonia. Of all these areas, Priorat and Conca de Barberà possibly offer the best prospects for increased tourism.
The growth of tourism in the region owes much to the mild, typically Mediterranean climate, further enhanced by the clear air and vivid blue skies which are the consequence of two winds: the north-westerly mistral or serè, which blows in winter, and the south-westerly breezes, known as the garbí, that keep humidity low in summer and waft away the mist.
The history of these lands —inhabited in ancient times by the Iberians— is closely linked to the splendour of Roman Tarraco, which played a crucial political and religious role in the early centuries of the Christian era. Then came a long period of decadence under the Visigoths and especially after the Islamic conquest. The area was virtually a no-man’s-land for centuries until it was finally recaptured by the counts and bishops of Barcelona in the 12th century. The ancient bishopric of Tarragona was reinstated and became an archdiocese and the metropolitan see of Catalonia. It was also a feudal domain with jurisdiction over the broad coastal plain —Camp de Tarragona— which is hemmed in by the Precoastal range.
Other important domains belonged to the monasteries of Poblet and Santes Creus, the earldom of Prades, the barony of Entença, and the military orders. All played an important part in resettling the land, as happened elsewhere in New Catalonia, the area lying south and west of the Llobregat valley which has retained, over the centuries, a personality quite distinct from Old Catalonia, which took shape hundreds of years earlier.
Seafaring and farming are inextricably linked to the Costa Daurada and the lifestyle of its inhabitants. The world of the sea is that of fishermen and traders, the bold and adventurous, and dreamers of far-off lands. It is profoundly Mediterranean, like the groves of umbrella pines by the water’s edge, or the olive, almond and hazelnut trees, the vines and evergreen oaks. This landscape has been shaped by generations of farmers into terraces that climb up the slopes to the tops of the Prades mountains —clad in chestnut trees, deciduous oaks, dwarf mountain pines and fir trees— or the high, bare plateau on top of the Montsant range.