Scaffolders destroy Tarragona’s Roman city wall

by Lorraine Williamson
Roman city wall


TARRAGONA – The ancient Roman city wall of Tarragona, a city in the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia, is the oldest wall from Roman times outside Italy. Part of the wall and its towers and gates are well preserved. 

However, builders recently caused serious damage to the historic monument when installing scaffolding to the Roman city wall for restoration work. The Minerva Tower and the relief depicting this Roman goddess of wisdom have been destroyed. This is reported by the Catalan news site Porta Enrere. Moreover, the municipality of Tarragona has confirmed this. 

To secure the jetty, no fewer than twelve holes were drilled in the tower. One of them ended up in the relief. Both the tower and the relief are of great cultural-historical value. They are among the oldest Roman remains on the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, the scaffolding company has admitted the blunder.

Crime against historical heritage 

However, the city council does not understand how such an experienced, specialised company could have made such a mistake. The holes in the Roman city wall are 10cm deep and have a diameter of 15mm. 

“We are appalled and will take all necessary measures against this gross negligence. It is a crime against the historical heritage,” said Hermán Pinedo, Councillor for Cultural Heritage at the Municipality of Tarragona. 

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“The company has apologised. We appreciate the gesture, but we can’t let this pass us by. Therefore, we are currently investigating the possibilities for legal action,” the councillor added. 

Furthermore, it is not clear why there was no supervisor on site when the scaffolding was erected. However, an internal report should show this. 

Fortunately, recovery is possible 

The municipality immediately entered into discussions with the Territorial Services of the Generalitat, the Restoration Centre of Movable Property and the Archdiocese. The latter is the owner of the tower. “Fortunately, we see opportunities to repair the damage,” said Pinedo. The anchorages have since been removed and an additional structure has been installed to support the jetty. 

Consequently, it has now also come to light the state of maintenance of the tower is worse than expected. “Some serious flaws,” according to Pinedo. Incidentally, these defects are completely unrelated to the erection of the scaffolding. 

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