If you are looking for a destination that combines history, culture, gastronomy, and art, look no further than Zaragoza, the fifth-largest city in Spain and the capital of the Aragon region. Zaragoza is a city that will surprise and delight you with its rich heritage, vibrant atmosphere, and friendly people. Here are some of the reasons why you should visit Zaragoza on your next trip to Spain.
Zaragoza is home to some of the most impressive monuments in Spain, reflecting its diverse and fascinating past. The most iconic landmark is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, a stunning baroque church that stands on the banks of the Ebro River. According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint James the Apostle on this spot in the first century AD and left a pillar as a sign of her presence. The basilica was built around this pillar, and today it attracts millions of pilgrims and visitors every year. You can admire the magnificent frescoes, sculptures, and altarpieces inside, as well as the views of the river and the city from the towers.
Another must-see monument is the Aljaferia Palace, a fortified palace that dates back to the 11th century when Zaragoza was under Islamic rule. The palace is a masterpiece of Moorish architecture, with exquisite arches, courtyards, and carvings. It later became the residence of the Catholic kings of Aragon, and the seat of the Spanish Inquisition. Today, it houses the regional parliament of Aragon and is open to the public for guided tours.
Zaragoza also boasts a remarkable Roman legacy, as it was founded by the emperor Augustus in the first century BC. You can explore the remains of the ancient city at four museums: the Forum Museum, the Theatre Museum, the River Port Museum, and the Thermal Baths Museum. These museums display the archaeological findings and offer interactive exhibits and audiovisual shows that recreate the life and history of Roman Zaragoza.
Zaragoza’s Art and Culture
Zaragoza is the birthplace of one of the greatest Spanish painters of all time, Francisco de Goya. You can admire his works at the Goya Museum, which showcases his paintings, engravings, and sketches, as well as his influences and contemporaries. The museum is located in a beautiful Renaissance palace and also features temporary exhibitions and events.
Another cultural highlight of Zaragoza is the Origami Museum, the only one of its kind in Europe. The museum displays amazing creations of paper folding from around the world, ranging from animals and flowers to geometric shapes and abstract forms. You can also learn about the history and techniques of origami, and even try your hand at making your own.
Zaragoza is also a city that celebrates its traditions and festivals with passion and joy. The most important event of the year is the Fiestas del Pilar, a 10-day celebration in October that honours the patron saint of the city. The fiestas are filled with music, dancing, parades, fireworks, and religious ceremonies, attracting thousands of locals and visitors alike. Another popular festival is the Carnival, which takes place in February or March, and features colourful costumes, masks, and street performances.
No visit to Zaragoza would be complete without sampling its delicious cuisine, which reflects the diversity and quality of the local products. Zaragoza is famous for its tapas, small dishes that are served in bars and restaurants, and that can be enjoyed as a snack or a meal. You can find a variety of tapas, from cheese and ham to seafood and vegetables, and taste the flavours of Aragon and Spain. Some of the best places to enjoy tapas are the historic El Tubo district, the lively Plaza Santa Marta, and the modern Plaza San Francisco.
Zaragoza also offers a range of traditional dishes, such as migas (fried bread crumbs with garlic and sausage), ternasco (roasted lamb), and borrajas (a local vegetable cooked with potatoes and eggs). For dessert, you can try the frutas de Aragon (candied fruits covered in chocolate), the adoquines (hard candies shaped like bricks), or the guirlache (a nougat made with almonds and honey). To accompany your meal, you can sip on some of the excellent wines from the region, such as the Somontano, the Cariñena, or the Calatayud.
Zaragoza is a city that has something for everyone, whether you are interested in history, culture, art, or gastronomy. It is a city that will charm you with its beauty, its atmosphere, and its hospitality. Zaragoza is a city that deserves to be discovered.