It’s hard for a Spanish city to hit the headlines when it’s competing with the likes of Madrid and Barcelona. Even Valencia and Bilbao are a tough third and forth to climb above.
But the stunning and warm city of Zaragoza, found right in between the square that is the cities above, might just be the hidden gem of Spain.
Coming with a multi-cultural background that has seen it ruled by Romans, Arabs, the Aragonese and then Christians, it’s not surprise to find out that the city is rich with a great variety of traditions, buildings and people. Modern history was deeply affected by the Spanish Civil War. Zaragoza was one of the most bombed areas and was the home of the famous anarchist militia group the Durruti Column. Nowadays the city has been largely trouble-free, apart from the ongoing and difficult threat from radical groups such as ETA. There a so many things for a visitor to do in Zaragoza you’ll never be bored. Here are just a few selections.
1. Take Part to Las Fiestas del Pilar
Dig out your red checked scarves for a 7-day festival that celebrates the belief that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint James by the Nuestra Señora del Pilar. A whopping 2 million people will be in and around the city during the festival. There are always plenty of bars and restaurants looking lively and entertaining all through the night as well as nightclubs and stages with live music and plenty of dancing. Daily bullfights in the morning always attract the crowds. Largely due to it being open to the public, or rather those brave enough to end up in hospital.
2. Visit the Catedral del Salvador
The Cathedral of the Saviour is found on the Plaza de la Seo, which very appropriately means “see”. There’s certainly something to see when you get there. When the Christians came to town around the 12th Century, they removed the Mosque, which was previously on the site, and built the church you see today. Before the Mosque it was also a Roman temple, so the site has had religious importance for hundreds of years. What might strike you when you enter is the unusual amount of natural light. It’s a bright and warm building with a truly spectacular 15th Century Gothic altarpiece. A beautiful Mudejar wall on the outside provides a window in the past.
3. Visit Aljafería Palace
If the Muslim world was short-changed in history at the Cathedral then they more than make up for it at this place. It’s a sort of cross between a castle and palace but it one of the most important Moorish buildings in the whole of Spain. Even though it is open to tourists and pilgrims, the building is also the site of the Aragonese parliament. One of the highlights include the Troubadour Tower, which was originally built for defence reasons and has many arrow-slits where attacks could be defending with ease.
Top 5 Zaragoza Hotels Recommended by Venere.com Users:
- Hotel Sercotel Oriente
- Eurostars Hotel Plaza Delicias
- Hotel Silken Reino de Aragon
- Hotel Zenit Don Yo
- Hotel Catalonia Zaragoza Plaza
Picture of Palacio de la Aljaferia, Zaragoza, Spain, by Wjotek Gurak