Zaragoza, stay in Aragon
Zaragoza, the largest city and capital of Aragon, is located on the River Ebro in a vast plain halfway between Barcelona and Madrid.
Situated about the same distance from these two cities and Valencia, Zaragoza has always been a must passageway between Castile and the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. A hub and transit platform for rail transport in the north-east of the peninsula, it is also used for road transport.
The city of the four cultures still bears the imprint of the Romano-Fiber, Muslim, Christian and Jewish civilizations. Some of its heritage legacies are included in UNESCO’s heritage, such as the Roman circus or the Palazzo de l’ Aljafería, an ancient Muslim fortress and many Mudéjar-style churches.
Zaragoza is a pleasant city with many parks and green spaces. Close to the university and a few blocks from the old town, the Parque Grande with its 27 hectares is the most attractive.
The Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Pilar, dedicated to the Virgin of the Pilar, stands on Pilar Square and the banks of the river Ebro. Saint Patroness of Hispanicism, its celebration takes place during a week in mid-October, one of the most important patron saint fiestas in Spain.
Near the banks of the Ebro, in the old town, the Tubo district concentrates part of the nightlife with its tapas bars.
The monuments of Zaragoza
Calle de los Diputados
If this Arab palace in the heart of Zaragoza was designed between the 10th and 11th centuries to be a place of leisure, it also assumed a defensive vocation.
The palace from which remains of the remains of the enclosure are quadrangular in structure. This enclosure is dotted with semicircular towers except for the Trouvère, the Torreón del Trovador, which is rectangular. The tower of the Trouvère is the oldest building in the Aljafería. A defensive tower dating from the late 9th century, it rises on five floors.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 6.30pm, Sunday from 10am to 2pm. From April to October from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm and from 4:30pm to 8pm. Admission: 5 €. Free on Sunday.
Puente de Piedra
The first fixed bridge in Zaragoza, the Pont de Pierre was built over a century, from 1339 to 1437. Seventh bridge to cross the Ebro from the west, it starts from Paseo de Echegaray at the level of Don Jaime 1st street to reach the left bank on Paseo de la Ribeira at the level of Sobarbe street.
Puente del Tercer Milenio
Combining aesthetics and technology, the Third Millennium Bridge is a civil engineering work that was built in 2008 on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition.
With a range of 216 metres, it is the largest suspension arch and concrete bridge in the world. Its 179-metre long apron has 6 traffic lanes, 2 bicycle paths and 2 glazed pedestrian crossings protected from the elements. This is supported by two groups of 32 cables isolating the pedestrian zones of the other lanes.
Access to the west of the city in La Almozara district, just above the Estación de Renfe railway station. Right bank: Avenida Expo 2008, left bank: Calle Pablo Ruiz Picasso.
Lonja of Zaragoza
Plaza del Pinar.
Formerly a high place of Saragossan trade converted into an exhibition hall for the mayor’s office, this market was founded in the 16th century at the request of Don Hernando de Aragon. Designed by Juan de Sariñena, this public building, which is a pure example of Aragonese Renaissance architecture, was intended to provide a civil space for merchants without their transactions passing through the Church’s registers.
Visits: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm. Sundays and holidays from 10am to 2pm. Free admission.
San Salvador Cathedral
Plaza de la Seo, 2.
Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance or Baroque, the Seo as it is called here the cathedral, gathers as many architectural styles as it has undergone transformations.
In the first place it was a Visigothic temple which stood already on the site a century BC.
Then followed a mosque, then in the 12th century a first Christian building was built there on the vestiges of previous constructions. Particularity: its north orientation so as not to coincide with the direction of the Muslim prayers that were carried out there. It is possible to visit inside the cathedral’s treasure, famous for its tapestries.
Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar
Plaza del Pilar Plaza.
A jewel of baroque art, the basilica was built between the 17th and 18th centuries. The image of the Virgin of Pilar is housed in the Holy Chapel built by Ventura Rodríguez. Don’t miss the Renaissance choir and the large alabaster altarpiece.
Classified as a National Monument, the Basilica of Zaragoza is, together with Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, one of the most popular Catholic spiritual destinations in Spain. Goya frescoes can also be admired in the choir and dome.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 6.45 am to 8.30 pm, until 9.30 pm on Sundays and public holidays. Free entrance to the cathedral. Visit of the museum: 2 € visit of the Tower: 3 €.
Museums in Zaragoza
Divided into two sections: archaeology and fine arts, the Zaragoza Museum is located in the former pavilion of the 1908 Universal Exhibition.
The archaeology section exhibits objects ranging from prehistory to the Muslim period. There are bronze plaques with Latin or Iberian inscriptions, a head of Emperor Augustus or architectural remains from the Aljafería Palace.
For the fine arts, the period covered goes from the twelfth century to the contemporary period. It includes Gothic paintings and paintings by Francisco de Goya.
In addition, the museum has two other sites in Primo de Rivera Park: the Antsotana House for ethnology and the Albarrací house dedicated to ceramics.
Access: Plaza de los Sitios, 6. Museum of Ethnology and Museum of Ceramics: Parque Grande de José Antonío Labordeta (Primo de Rivera Park) south-west of the historic centre.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm. Sundays and holidays from 10am to 2pm. Free admission.
Caesareaugusta Forum Museum
Discovery of Roman Zaragoza with archaeological remains from the ancient forum of the city during the time of Emperor Tiberius. The museum also proposes those of a market, pipes and also some walls of shops dating from the reign of Emperor Augustus. An audiovisual device completes this interesting exhibition.
Access: Plaza de la Seo, 2.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm. Public holidays and Sundays from 10am to 2:30pm. Admission: 3 €, reduced price: 2 €.
Diocesan Museum of Zaragoza
The museum, located in the palace of Aljafería, offers a double route to discover the history of both the church of Zaragoza and the most important sites of Aragon.
The first floor of the palace, in addition to numerous images of the Virgin of Pilar, tells the story of the birth of Christian communities in Aragon.
On the second floor of the Mudejar palace, the evolution of the Renaissance and Baroque medieval religiosity is highlighted through works of the diocesan artistic heritage. The third Renaissance floor offers a visit to the Bishops’ Lounge and the throne room, which houses works by famous artists such as Goya and portraits of bishops.
Access: Plaza de la Seo, 6.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 2pm.
Museum of Tapestries and Capitulars of the Seo
Housed in the cathedral of the Seo, the museum houses a collection of tapestries considered by specialists to be the most important in the world.
This collection consists of 63 Flemish tapestries and 6 draperies, some of them Gothic, others Renaissance or Baroque.
In addition to these tapestries from the cathedral’s chapters, the museum also exhibits numerous liturgical objects such as goldsmiths’ pieces, sacred ornaments and reliquary busts.
Access: Plaza de la Seo.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 1.30pm and 4pm to 6pm, Sunday from 10am to 11.30am and 7pm to 6pm. Admission: 4 €, reduced price: 3 €.
Museum Pablo Gargallo Gargallo
Entirely dedicated to the Aragonese sculptor Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934), the museum is housed in a 16th century building. Conceived as a stroll through the sculptor’s work, the visit offers sculptures in different materials, engravings, drawings and biographical documentation of the artist. Among the exhibited pieces:’ The great prophet’, a portrait of’ Kiki de Montparnasse’ or the equestrian figure’ The Olympic Jump’.
Access: Plaza San Felipe, 3.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and then from 5pm to 9pm, public holidays and Sunday from 10am to 2:30pm. Admission: 4 €, reduced price: 3 €.
Caesareaugusta Theatre Museum
The Roman theatre dating from the 1st century was discovered in 1972. In 2002 a museum was designed to trace the history of this monument, one of the best preserved in Zaragoza.
The ground floor offers panoramic views illustrating this history and a summary of the archaeological excavations carried out.
The first floor explains the Roman theatre, its genres and authors through audio-visual aids. In the basement: projection of an audiovisual document, models and scenographies as well as a 3D reproduction.
Several daily environments have been recreated to evoke the Muslim, Jewish and Catholic cultures that have changed the theatre.
Access: Calle San Jorge, 12.
Visits: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 2:30pm.
Institute of Contemporary Art and Culture of Aragon Pablo Serano
Much of the work of Aragonese artist Pablo Serrano is exhibited in this cultural institute. 140 sculptures and drawings enable us to understand the evolution of the sculptor and his message: Man and his roots.
An exhibition of works by his wife, Juana Francés, a collection of contemporary graphic art and paintings by Santiago Lagunas complete the visit.
Access: Paseo María Agustín, 20.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and then from 5pm to 9pm, Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 2pm.
Museum of the Virgin of Pilar
Museum of the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar, it offers a journey through religious art. Housed in the great sacristy are some of the most representative coats and jewels that were offered to the Virgin from the 16th century to the present day.
Sketches of Goya, Mudéjar handicrafts, religious paintings and sculptures from the 16th to 18th century, monstrance or processional images are also on display.
Access: Plaza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 8pm, Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Closed on public holidays and Sundays. Admission: 2 €.
Nuévalos, a small village of barely 400 inhabitants, is nestled on the banks of the Pierdra river and the artificial lake Tranquera formed at the confluence of the Pierdra and Ortiz rivers.
Numerous limestone cliffs from which it is possible to observe birds of prey or rock roosters overlook the Pierdra. Further down, depending on the season, the reeds of Lake Tranquera are home to cormorants, herons, ducks and, just like some parts of the river, places suitable for angling.
In addition to being a good place to relax, the lake has been laid out for various water sports.
A few kilometres from Nuévalos, just above the river, the Cistercian monastery of La Pierdra, converted into a hotel, is one of the tourist attractions of the region. Its astonishing park where rocks, water and vegetation combine harmoniously in a harmonious way are highly sought after.
A little to the north-west of Nuévalos, about ten kilometres away, Alhama de Aragon offers its thermal spa Termas Pallarés.
Location: 110 km west of Zaragoza in the centre-western part of Aragon and the province of Zaragoza (A-2, A-1501).
Fuendetodos is above all the birthplace of Franciso de Goya, whose house can be visited.
Dating from the early 18th century, its interior recreates a contemporary rural residence from the artist’s time. Next door, the engraving museum exhibits a sample of Goya’s work from some of his engraving series: Disasters, Caprices, Bullfighting…
Another curiosity of the place: the village’s coolers: las neveras. These 18th century buildings were used to store winter snow and transform it into ice, which was transported to supply Zaragoza.
On the other hand, Fuendetodos is equipped with a network of a hundred kilometres of marked hiking trails.
Location: 44 km south of Zaragoza (N-330 to Botorrita then A-2101).
The capital of the Jiloca Valley, Daroca, is an ancient border town with a rich artistic and architectural past.
The variety of this architectural and monumental heritage has made it known as the “city of seven times seven”.
Resulting from a mixture of Muslim and Christian influences, its medieval centre, surrounded by three and a half kilometres of ramparts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, is classified as a place of cultural interest.
In addition to the remains still visible from its castle, several other religious buildings: collegiate churches, churches and convents and civilians such as the Jewish quarter and its 16th and 17th century architectural complex dot the area.
Among these churches: Santo Domingo de Silos and San Juan de la Cuesta (12th-13th centuries), whose original Romanesque constructions were completed in Mudéjar style.
Location: 85 km southwest of Zaragoza (N-330).
A city whose history dates back to Roman times, its historic centre preserves buildings characteristic of the Mudéjar period.
Catalayud spreads out at the foot of five castles of Arab origin, one of the oldest defensive systems in Muslim Spain. Of the old fortress of Ayub which gave its name to the town, only two octagonal towers are preserved with sections of the walls that formed the ramparts.
One of the most remarkable Mudéjares buildings in the city is the Santa María Collegiate Church, classified as a National Monument. Built in the 14th century, it combines Gothic-Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque styles.
Location: 90 km south-west of Zaragoza (A-2).
A medieval village, Uncastillo offers a rich and surprising monumental site. Amongst this impressive historical and artistic heritage: its castle fortress with its 11th century keep; of the same period: the Gothic palace of Peter IV, unique in Aragon; the church of Santa María, declared of cultural interest as well as the church of San Juan, which houses murals from the 13th century. In the centre, you can also admire a Lonja, an old trading hall dating from the 13th century.
The surroundings of the village are endowed with hiking trails and in summer, there is a craft fair with stonework, wood, metal and embroidery.
Situation: 110 km from Zaragoza to the north-western tip of the province (N-232 to Alagon then A-126, A-127 and A-1202).
Sos del Rey Católico
A small village nestled on the foothills of the Sierra de la Peña in the historical area of Cinco Villas, its old town is declared of cultural interest.
It is also the birthplace of Ferdinand II, king of Aragon, who later became known as Ferdinand the Catholic.
In the 10th and 11th centuries, its strategic location made it one of the most fortified walls in the region, and some of the towers: Jaca, Nador, Zaragoza and Uncastillo, which marked the entrance to the small medieval town, have been preserved to this day.
Its civil buildings blend Renaissance architecture: Plaza Mayor, Town Hall and Baroque with the Gil de Jaz School. Hanging on the castle: The Romanesque church of San Esteban houses frescoes in its crypt in primitive Gothic style. Next door, the Renaissance palace of Sada houses an interpretation centre recounting the era of Ferdinand the Catholic.
From the castle keep in the northern part of Sos, a breathtaking view of the Pyrenean peaks of Huesca and Navarre province.
Situation: 120 km from Zaragoza, about ten Uncastillo, in the extreme northwest of the province (N-232 to Alagon then A-126, A-127).
At the crossroads of Aragon, La Rioja, Navarra and Castilla y Leon, Tarazona is leaning against the flanks of Moncayo.
An episcopal and Mudejar city, its cathedral where Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance styles meet is one of the most astonishing in Aragon.
The fourth largest city in the province of Zaragoza, its 17th century polygonal arena consists of mansions still inhabited today.
Location: 75 km from Zaragoza in the northwestern part of the province (N-232, N-122).