When talking of lesser known communities (comunidades) in Spain, often Extremadura, Asturias, Cantabria
and Murcia come to mind. However, Catalonia, aside from Barcelona being the most visited city in Spain, also holds charming pueblos and cities that are commonly overlooked by tourists and nationals alike.
Tarragona is one of the gems of Catalonia worthy of a weekend getaway, a day trip from Barcelona, or perhaps a Semana Santa escape (for more on "holy week" in Spain, see Cat Gaa's post on Semana Santa in Sevilla over at Lauren's blog Spanish Sabores).
I visited the Roman ruins of Tarraco (Tarragona), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in April of 2011 with my father, as a stopover between Barcelona and Madrid. Aside from the amphitheater you'll also find Roman architecture in the city walls and its gate the Portal de Sant Antoni, the forum, the sepulcher of Scipios and the palace of Agustus. Throughout the ruins and town, you'll noticed references to the Roman, Latin and Phoenician past of Tarragona.
In the medieval district, a Gothic-Romanesque cathedral stands from the 12th century, a Jesuit college later used prison barracks, and near the sunlit blue reflections of the Mediterranean, the remains of the church of the Knights Templar Santa Maria del Miracle.
Strewn about town is new evidence of civilization and conquests, as you'll browse gift shops and specialty stores dedicated to artisans, predominately olive oil (much of it produced in the province) and wine (Tarragona also provides a terrain ample for grape growth).
Castellers, human towers and a symbol and tradition of the Catalan region.
Tarragona, one of the jewels of the Mediterranean coastline.
Inside the Roman amphitheater of Tarraco (Tarragona as it's known today)
Preparing for Semana Santa (Setmana Santa in Catalan); the floats are incredibly heavy, requiring a lot of man power and weeks of practice. Even if you are not visiting the city during Easter, you may catch them roaming the streets in preparation for a flawless procession.
Cathedral of Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain. Climb the bell tower on Saturdays.
Face to face; reach out and touch history in Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.
Window shopping during siesta hours in Tarragona.
Alsa: Daily departures from Barcelona (nord, north station) 8.25€ one-way 15.67€ roundtrip. 1 hour and 45 minutes per direction.
Renfe: Multiple trains everyday from Barcelona Sants Station 6-7.50€ one-way 1 hour 20 mins. If you are in a rush, or prefer the fast train at 31 minutes per trip, prices range from 12.70-31.80€ one-way for tourist class.
Ryanair: Attention!! The 'Reus Barcelona' airport is actually closer to Tarragona (11km) than Barcelona, and is a solid option if you are planning on seeing this Roman city and its ruins in first person.
Centrally located hotels.
Most processions runs from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are also important days to witness cultural happenings throughout Spain.