Let me introduce you to the town of Amposta, by borrowing some words from Nobel prize winner, Ernest Hemingway: “I was watching the bridge and the African looking country of the Ebro Delta and wondering how long now it would be before we would see the enemy...” This is an excerpt taken from his short story – The Old Man at the Bridge, which he wrote about an experience in Amposta, during the Spanish Civil War, in 1938.
Hemingway was dazzled by this scenery of the Ebro at dusk. It’s not a surprise; the scenery that evoked these feelings in Hemingway, shifts gracefully through different phases, that depend on the light, the mood of the weather and, I think, our own mood as well. The contemplation this scene triggers, the Ebro and the bridge are majestic, magical and mystical.
Apparently the Hollywood team that chose locations for the film Sahara, also agreed with Hemingway.
As The River Ebro Weaves It’s Way….
The river Ebro weaves its way under the spectacular, historic bridge of Amposta, otherwise known as the Pont Penjat, which translates simply into the Suspension Bridge. The gateway to the Delta de l’Ebre, Amposta, has a population of over 21,500 and is the capital of the county (comarça) of Montsià . In fact some historians support the theory that Amposta was the capital of the Ibera/Hibera territory before the Roman conquest. Today it’s a busy town which makes a good holiday destination for those who want to explore the Delta de l’Ebre, visit Tortosa and other towns close by, but enjoy the culture and history of an important Catalan town.
Unspoilt Beaches Close By, Culture, History & Gastronomy
Although the town of Amposta is not on the beach, the land within its municipality is, and in fact there’s a good selection of unspoilt beaches within a short drive from Amposta. Of course if you want to tumble out of bed onto the beach, this is not the place for you – but if you want a good choice of restaurants, cafés, bars with a generous dollop of culture and history, then Amposta may be for you.
If like me, you sometimes prefer the freedom of staying in an apartment, then one of the first things you’ll want to do is go to the Amposta municipal market. Well, even if you don’t actually “need” to shop for food, this is the hub of the town, and actually a fine building, with lovely stained glass windows, which feature scenes from the Delta de l’Ebre. You won’t want to miss it. Tuesday is “mercadillo” day, so the weekly market is also happening, as well as the daily municipal market.
Enjoy The Simple Things In Life
Sometimes it’s the simple things that strike you, and yesterday when I was in Amposta, I saw what looked like an English couple sitting down in the midday sun. They were probably around 60 years old, and they had kind of melted into their surroundings – in fact, they didn’t look unlike a couple of cats basking in the sun. No worries, no stressful thoughts, just lapping it up and enjoying a drink, with all the time in the world. This is often the biggest pleasure we have when we travel to warmer countries, so sometimes going here and there to see monuments becomes less important.
Explore Amposta’s Heritage
That said, Amposta is an easy and relaxing town to explore. So if the mood does take you, you can wander around the town to see the remnants of its castle, La Muralla Iberica (Iberic Wall) La Muralla Andalusina (Andalusian Wall), el Pas de Ronda (Ronda Pass), its fine Cultural Centre, the steam engine chimney, modernist buildings, the church, museum and the town council building. Or just go and stand on the bridge and take in the expansive views over the River Ebro. Within a short distance from the town, you can see the well preserved Torre de Carrova (Carrova Tower), Bou Garden, plus a range of attractions in the Delta de l’Ebre.
Amposta Brief History
According to some historians, Amposta may have been the capital of Ibera/Hibera before the Roman conquest. Certainly around the castle area there is an abundance of archaeological remains, but the dispute about which town was capital is not resolved, and it’s between Amposta, Tortosa and Sant Carles de la Rápita. During the Second Punic War (also known as the Hannibalic War or the Carthaginian War) in 215 AD, Amposta allied with the Carthaginians but the victorious Romans destroyed the town. Inhabitants fled and with them so did part of the town’s history. The Ilercavona culture was absorbed by the Roman culture.
It was by the Carrova Tower that the Romans made their settlement, plus they also set up an inn for security, which was on a terrace of the River Ebro, in the old part of what is now Amposta. This is actually how the town got its name, as the Latin for this inn over the river was – Amni Imposita – which turned into Amposta.
When the Arabs arrived they also set up a fort on the same site. In 1095 and 1097, the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer III failed in his attempts to seize Amposta, however with the help of his cousin, Count Artau II de Pallars, he conquered the area and also Tortosa, so he rewarded him with these lands. Later, in 1149, his son Ramon Berenguer IV awarded Amposta Castle and the lands around it, to the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. This was a time of great prosperity.
In 1280 it passed to the Crown. Amposta’s importance diminished, and on the 2nd October 1465 the castle underwent a siege, during the Civil War, being taken eight months later. However it had been seriously destroyed. The city entered a period of decline and was destroyed by Turkish and Barbary pirates, who were plundering the coastline during the 16th century.
From the 17th to 19th centuries, a slow recovery took hold. In 1860 cultivation in the Delta to grow rice began, plus other industries were growing in Amposta, such as rice and oil mills, and construction. By the early 20th century the population of Amposta had reached 4000 inhabitants. Development continued, interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, when on the 10th March 1938, the suspension bridge was destroyed by Italian aircraft. The city was taken, on 18th April 1938, by the army led by General Rafael García Valiño.
Things To Do
Pont Penjat Amposta – Amposta Suspension Bridge
For a number of years, Amposta’s suspension bridge was a pioneer of it’s kind here in Spain. Work was instigated by the then mayor, Joan Palau, and took four years between 1915 to 1919. Inaugurated in 1921, the bridge replaced old boat steps that had previously been the only means to cross the River Ebro.
It spans 134 metres and has two 24 metre high pillars, but in 1938 was destroyed by Franco’s troops. On 4th October 1947 it re-opended, in 1966 it was fully renovated and also underwent renovation from 2007 to 2009.
The engineer, José Eugenio Ribera, was a leading supporter of using reinforced concrete in bridge construction, however he opted for the metal cables system, because of the challenging conditions of the terrain Ribera’s mother was from Tortosa, and he had designed the Reina Victoria Bridge, Madrid, and the Kursaal, San Sebastian.
As well as being a remarkable engineering and architectural sight, the Amposta bridge is the town’s most distinctive and important symbol. It spans the spirit of Amposta’s vast communications and its role as nexus between different regions. The bridge that connects cultures – Amposta was the capital city of Catalan Culture in 2006. When Hemingway was in Amposta, it was only a few weeks after Franco’s airforce had destroyed the symbolic bridge. He wrote the short story – The Old Man at the Bridge.
El Castell d’Amposta – Amposta Castle
Just after the bridge on the right hand side, you will see the signs
Here you can see the remains of Amposta Castle, which was built in the 10th century by the Moors, on the site of a previous Iberian settlement. It enjoyed great prosperity for a period from second half of the 12th century, but went into decline from 1280. In 1466 it was destroyed, by the troops of Joan II. In 1983 the city bought the grounds and today you can see the remains of important walls, the fine Cultural centre and library, which are on the remains of the castle, and a steam engine chimney. Also as you enter the area, the Esardi Escola d’Art i Disseny (Esardi School of Art and Design) is on your left, which is a fine building that opened in 1984.
Torre de Carrova – Carrova Tower
4km from town on the road to Tortosa
The Carrova Tower is an interesting example of the type of medieval defense towers which were built along the river Ebro. There’s a pretty picnic area, plus you can see the Ullals, which are small protected ponds.
Centres Of Interpretation
Centre Cultural Amposta i Biblioteca Sebastià Juan Arbó
At the location of the remains of the Castle
Opened on the 5th May 1995, the library has been named after the author Sebastià Juan Arbó (1902 – 1984), from Sant Carles de la Rápita, who moved, aged eight, to Amposta. He’s the best known writer from the county of Montsià , and won the Fastenrath Prize for Terres de l’Ebre in 1935. In 1947 he published Tino Costa, his most important work, which was eventually made into a television series.
Ermita Santa Maria del Montsià Amposta – St. Mary’s Hermitage of Montsia
Located on a small hill under Montsianell, this is of relatively recent construction, and like many hermitages has great views from it.
Museo de les Terres de l’Ebre – Museum of the Lands of the Ebro
Carrer Gran Capità 34, Phone: 977 702 957 – Website: www.museuterresebre.cat
Regardless of whether you like visiting the inside of museums or not, you should at least see this from the outside. Outside is simply sculptured with a central pond and fountain, some trees and play areas for children – very civilised!
Created in 1984, it underwent a substantial expansion project in 2011, giving it a total of 3000m2, broadening its scope to explore new possibilities and become a platform for citizen initiatives. The Museum manages and preserves the largest collection of archaeology, nature and ethnology of the Terres de l’Ebre. It also offers tourism and education services.
Parc Natural Delta de l’Ebre – Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park
“It is clear that all areas have their own particularity and beauty, but the contrasts we have here for creating audiovisual material, makes for a very, very interesting territory. Both wildlife and landscape. I think it’s a pretty unique space.” Amposta born film director, Sant Valldepérez.
Many people are drawn to this area because of the Delta, and some may stay in the smaller towns in the park itself, whereas others may choose stay in Amposta, Tortosa, Sant Carles de la Rapita and Les Cases d’Alcanar, or places a little further afield.
The Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park has a unique, magical landscape. As it’s flat, it is perfect for those who enjoy cycling, which in my humble opinion is a wonderful way to absorb its immense personality, as is horse riding. The European Commission has designated it as an EDEN (European Destination of Excellence), because of its commitment to sustainable tourism.
You can read a full feature about it, by clicking on Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park.
Although Amposta is considered to be a gateway to the Delta de l’Ebre, it is also within reasonable travelling distance to Els Port Natural Park. You can go to the fine city of Tortosa, which is quite close. For more information follow the link Els Port Natural Park
Amposta Carnival – Before Lent
More information about the Amposta Carnival
Market Square Festival Amposta
Click on the link for more about the Amposta Market Square Festival
Artichoke Festival Amposta – Around 21st February
Read more about it here
Amposta Mercado Municipal – Municipal Market Amposta
Avenida Alcalde Palau 68 – Opening Hours – Monday to Saturday – 08.00 – 14.00
In the location where there had been a soap factory and rice dryers, the municipal market of Amposta was built in 1947. The architect, Francisco Juan Barba Corsini, who was responsible for the Amposta market, also created some of the most innovative residential buildings in Spain, during the second half of the 20th century. The area where you can see the market was also a place where recreational traditional games were played, such as bowling. The building is a striking structure, of one nave, with covered porches and large windows which feature beautiful stained glass, with images of flora and fauna from the Delta de l’Ebre.
Weekly Market Amposta
Every Tuesday the weekly market in Amposta takes place in the streets outside the Municipal Market. It is a very good size market, with plenty of variety.