Zaragoza is the center of the province of the same name in northeastern Spain. This is an ancient beautiful city, where there are many beautiful palaces and even more cathedrals.
Who and why goes to Zaragoza
Zaragoza, founded during the Roman Empire, was conquered by the Arabs in the 8th century and turned it into an outpost of the struggle against the Christian kingdoms. It remained under the control of the Muslims for a long time and passed to the Aragonese state only in 1118. After the unification of Spain in the 15th century, the city became part of a large country and received a new impetus for development.
The turbulent past of Zaragoza is reflected in historical and cultural monuments. Tourists like characteristic Spanish streets, wide squares, Moorish palaces and Gothic temples. Antique walls, the ancient Roman theater, and the picturesque embankment are popular.
Zaragoza is famous for its bright Christian holidays:
- Holy Week is celebrated with special splendor. All seven days preceding Easter, Christian processions are held in the city to the beat of cymbals and drums.
- No less popular is the feast of St. George (great martyr, patron of Aragon). The day dedicated to him is an official holiday in Zaragoza. It is accompanied by a parade and festivities.
- In October, the festival in honor of the Virgin Pilar starts. For a week, the city turns into a center of religious events and entertainment. As part of the holiday, there is a solemn procession to the statue of the Virgin, a cavalcade led by the National Guard, and a dance competition.
The parks and squares of Zaragoza save you from the heat of the day and allow you to have an interesting time. Fountains, benches, playgrounds with carousels, cozy cafes are installed among the trees. For athletes there are treadmills and exercise equipment.
The rich historical heritage of the city is stored in museums. The collections include ethnographic, archaeological artifacts, medieval works of art, jewelry and weapons.
Connoisseurs of outdoor activities prefer to combine sightseeing with hiking in the surroundings, boating on the Ebro River, sport fishing or rafting.
The main square of Zaragoza, founded in the 16th century, is now used for official events and city holidays. The square area is surrounded by Renaissance buildings, Gothic cathedrals, and churches.
In the middle is a monument to Goya. The figure of the artist is located on a stepped pedestal. The master holds a brush in his hand and looks thoughtfully into the distance. On the west side of Pilar Square is a large fountain depicting a map of Latin America.
The walls built under the Roman emperors once completely surrounded the city and reliably protected it from enemies. Now only a few fragments remain of them. One of them rises along the Avenida de Cesar Augusto — not only walls have been preserved there, but also the remains of defensive towers made of roughly hewn stone boulders. The maximum height of the plot is 10 meters, the width is 7 meters.
A stone bridge
The arched bridge across the Ebro River was built in the first half of the 15th century. The stone structure has been rebuilt several times and is now in excellent condition. At each end of the bridge there are pillars with sculptures of proud lions. In the evenings, bright lights are turned on. The bridge has been redesignated for pedestrian walks — it offers a gorgeous view of the river, the embankment and the historical districts of the city.
Plaza of Spain
The square in the historic center of Zaragoza is of great architectural and cultural importance. It is surrounded by financial and government institutions: for example, the Palace of the Governorate Cathedral and the Bank of Spain.
The pearl of the square is a monument to the Martyrs, made of stone and bronze, designed by Ricardo Magdalena. The monument is a crenellated tower, on top of which stands a winged angel with a cross holding a falling Aragonese. At the foot is a female figure, personifying Zaragoza. In her hands is the crown of Victory and a parchment with a seal.
From the Plaza de España, a network of narrow ancient streets paved with paving stones departs. The popular tourist area is famous for its elite clubs, fashion stores, and antique shops. The central attractions of El Tubo are the old French restaurant “Lac House” and the legendary cafe “La Plata”, where in the evenings they dance cancan and show shows for adults.
The Moorish palace of the 8th century is a bright representative of the Mudéjar architectural style. It was intended for the Banu Hud ruler and has been well preserved to this day. This is a majestic fortress with several towers, surrounded by thick walls. A garden is laid out in the courtyard, there are openwork gazebos and lanterns.
During the reign of Aragon, Aljaferia was the residence of the Christian kings, today it houses the parliament of the region. Some rooms are available for tourists. The tour shows the Throne Room, the main chambers with the coats of arms of Castile and Aragon, as well as the Troubadour tower.
The two-storey town hall of Zaragoza, erected in 1941 in the style of the Aragonese Renaissance, dominates Pilar Square. The large rectangular building is decorated with arched spans and original stucco. The central entrance is decorated with stone statues. Trees have been planted nearby and benches have been installed. Excursions inside are not provided.
The 16th-century mansion on Pilar Square has a rectangular shape and three facades. The outer walls are decorated with a gallery of double arches, openwork windows and correspond to the traditional Renaissance style. The interior decoration is distinguished by gothic notes.
The vaults are decorated with sculptural reliefs, carved ornaments, and stucco. The building, intended for commercial purposes, has long been the main market of Zaragoza. Today, there is an exhibition hall of the city council.
Palace of Congresses Zaragoza
The Congress Palace, Eduardo Ibarra Street, is a spacious house built in 1994. It includes a concert hall as well as auditoriums for meetings and official events. The complex is famous for its exquisite interior and excellent acoustics. The main hall is equipped with video surveillance, simultaneous translation system, LCD projection screens. On the stage of the palace, the chamber orchestra and the choir of the music school regularly give concerts.
Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar
Pilar Square adorns the largest Catholic church in Zaragoza, built in honor of the appearance of the Virgin, which happened 1000 years ago. The sanctuary has four bell towers with pointed spiers. One of them has an observation deck. The central building is crowned with a massive dome with a cross.
Medieval church relics are preserved inside the temple. The main shrine is a jasper column depicting the Mother of God and baby Jesus. The Pilar Museum is located in the Basilica. It exhibits drawings by Goya, church utensils and jewelry.
Cathedral of the Epiphany of the Savior
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Epiphany of the Savior — La Seo — the oldest in Zaragoza. It was founded in 1140 on the ruins of the ancient forum. The building was rebuilt more than once and acquired features characteristic of the Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and Mudéjar styles.
Inside there is an alabaster altar 16 meters high and 10 meters wide, as well as a choir with 117 stone seats. The sacristy is decorated with paintings by Aragonese artists of the 17th century. In total, there are 28 chapels in the temple, each of which stands out for its rich decoration.
Church of Santa Engracia
The basilica was built on the site of the murder of Saint Engracia and her companions, which happened in 303. At first, a small tomb reminded of the tragedy. Later, an abbey appeared, which has survived to this day. The monastery church suffered extensive damage during the Spanish War of Independence and took years to restore.
Now the temple has been restored and attracts tourists with colorful frescoes, stone statues of saints, and beautiful wall paintings. The crypt contains early Christian sarcophagi from the 4th century.
Church of St. Magdalena
The temple of the XIV century is the standard of the traditional Mudéjar style. The building has the shape of a Latin cross with a nave with transverse vaults and a polygonal apse. Side chapels rise between the inner supports. The square high bell tower is decorated with original ornaments, crenellated roof, oval arches and crosses.
In the interior, the altar by Jose Ramirez de Arellano, paintings, as well as a gilded statue symbolizing the Immaculate Conception, have been preserved.
San Gil Abad
The Romanesque early Christian church was destroyed under Muslim rule. A new Mudéjar sanctuary was erected in the 14th century. Its main decoration is a square polygonal tower decorated with oriental ornaments, round arches and windows. Today it is the city’s parish church, which preserves frescoes and paintings by the Spanish artist Ramon Baye.
Pablo Gargallo Museum
In Piazza San Felipe stands the two-storey Aragonese palace of the Counts of Argillo, declared a national monument in 1943. It houses the museum of the Spanish sculptor Pablo Gargallo. The gallery of the palace contains 177 works of the master: marble statues, engravings, pencil drawings, paintings. In the courtyard are two equestrian sculptures, also created by Pablo Gargallo in 1929 for the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona.
Museum of Zaragoza
The largest historical museum in Spain is divided into three sections:
- The archaeological department presents exhibits found during excavations: weapons, jewelry, fragments of ancient buildings, religious objects.
- The art section contains paintings by Spanish Renaissance artists, Muslim paintings, and statues of Roman gods.
- The ceramics room shows how pottery developed in Aragon from the Stone Age to the present day.
The museum also has a restoration department and a library.
The La Seo Cathedral has a tapestry museum for many years. The collection includes products woven 200–300 years ago in famous workshops in Brussels, Tournai, Arras. Three exhibition halls contain fabrics illustrating biblical events, the history of Ancient Rome, and popular myths. Separately sorted heraldic tapestries, sacred ornaments, jewelry, paintings.
José Camón Aznar Museum
The Fine Arts Museum at Los Pardo Palace opened in 1979. The three-story mansion houses thousands of works of art. The basis of the exposition is the collection of José Camón Aznar, which includes works by artists of the 16th-20th centuries.
An extensive section is devoted to the work of Francisco Goya. Among its exhibits: “Self-portrait”, “Maria Luisa de Parma”, “Aesop and Menip”, “The dream of the mind produces monsters.”
The Roman theater in Zaragoza was built during the reign of Emperor Tiberius. The building had a classical form, was lined with marble and accommodated 6,000 people. Over time, the theater collapsed and disappeared from the face of the city. Its ruins, discovered in 1970, are still being studied by scientists.
Unique finds are exhibited in the Museum of the Roman Theater. On the tour you can see marble statues, fragments of columns, theatrical masks, ancient musical instruments. A separate exhibition tells about the construction of the theater and its significance for ancient Zaragoza.
At the initiative of the fire department in Zaragoza, a museum has been opened that will be of interest to the whole family. In an accessible form, he talks about the work of firefighters and how to prevent fires in the house. The permanent exhibition presents fire engines, extinguishing agents, and rescuers’ clothing.
A place of honor is occupied by a collection of plates that are mounted on the facades of houses that are insured against fire. Tourists can study 90 plates of foreign and Spanish insurance companies.
Nature and entertainment
A huge park in the center of Zaragoza is decorated with fountains, marble sculptures and figured benches. Walking paths, jogging paths, and picnic areas are equipped under the trees. There is a Botanical Garden in the park, which introduces coniferous, deciduous trees, shrubs, flowers, medicinal herbs, and spices. On the territory there is a cafe, a playground with carousels. At the entrance there is a pond with a clepsydra — a water clock.
Embankment of the river Ebro
The city is crossed by a small beautiful river. The central promenade is easy to find near the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar. The picturesque coast paved with stone slabs is a suitable place for romantic and family walks. Trees have been planted along the road, benches and fruit stalls have been installed, and cafes are open. People come here to admire the view of the river, take pictures, go rollerblading.
The largest European river aquarium is located in a modern spacious building. It presents the fauna of the Nile, Amazon, Ebro, Mekong, Murray-Darling. Adults and children can see piranhas, giant perches, guppies, aravans, flathead catfish. Crocodiles, snakes, guinea pigs, marsh beavers live in a special zone. Tourists are offered to listen to an interesting lecture, attend fish feeding and attend educational workshops.
Somos el Parque de Atracciones
An amusement park opened in Zaragoza in 1974. There are 40 attractions among the trees. Ferris wheel, Vertical Twister, Pacific Ocean Express, Chains, Ramses, Revolution are very popular. For the little ones there are trampolines, sandboxes, a traditional carousel in the form of animals. Visitors to the park ride boats on the local pond, enter the Cave of Horrors, the Room of Mirrors, and the Magnetic House.
A small but cozy park, stretching along Paseo de Cuellar, is designed for leisurely walks in the shade of trees. Wide alleys are lined with square stone slabs.
In the center is a small square with a monument to Ramon Pignatelli, a Spanish politician who took an active part in creating the project of the Imperial Canal of Aragon. In addition, the park contains a stone bust of José Maria Ferrera and a wall painted by city artists.