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isaacmolina Zaragoza - A travel report by Isaac
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Zaragoza,  Spain - flag Spain
4885 readers

isaacmolina's travel reports

A little known Spanish jewel

  33 votes
You will be charmed when discovering historical Zaragoza and its people. In Zaragoza you will experience the genuine Spanish hospitality. This report is dedicated to Dani Serralta, best Spanish Globo traveller, who is now in Africa overland. BRAVO DANI!

View of Central Basilica from Alfonso I street
View of Central Basilica from Alfonso I street
Zaragoza was called in the Celt and Iberian times Salduba and was founded on the banks of the Ebro River, which was navigable until the Mediterranean Sea in the Romans times, but today owing to the many dams, is not possible anymore. Romans came and gave the name of Caesar Augusta, which was shortened to present Zaragoza. Moors invaded it until our King Alfonso I El Batallador expelled them forever in the XII century. There was a time when the Corona de Aragon (Aragon Crown), which capital was Zaragoza, dominated the whole Mediterranean Sea and many territories in France and Italy, apart from the today's Spanish autonomies of Valencia, Catalonia and Balearic Islands. By population Zaragoza is the fifth city in present Spain. One of its heroes is the Spanish Jeanne D’Arc: Agustina de Aragon, who has a central square named after her. She was so brave that started fighting against the Napoleonic troops that invaded our country from 1808 until we completely expel them back to the other side of the Pyrenees in 1814. But unlike Jeanne D’Arc, she lived 71 years receiving a Kings pension of 100 reals yearly. Zaragoza is famous for its MUDEJAR style, a unique and impressive architecture in the world, which is a mixture of Mauritanian and Spanish styles combined. Many of its buildings observe this style: the old cathedral, University, our arena for bullfighting, or the Main Post Office. Aragon’s people even have a local language, called Habla, mostly spoken in the north, around the Pyrenees, which sounds a little like the valenciano, the catalan and the balear, But the Aragon people use the language only for communication and not for politics. Aragon does not have good roads or railway communications with France; they are still fighting to get a train connexion with Toulouse, which was interrupted several decades ago. That is bad for their economy and the reason why the few tourists who visit this town will be more than welcome

Favourite spots:
Full view of the Basilica from River Ebro
Full view of the Basilica from River Ebro
While in Zaragoza you should visit one of the holiest places in Spain: the Basilica del Pilar, a place for pilgrims, like Fatima in Portugal or Lourdes in France. According to the legend, Saint James, the Apostle of Jesus, came to Spain and preached Christianity. Virgin Mary appeared and requested him to erect a Basilica in Caesar Augusta (Zaragoza). First it was a simple temple and in 1685 it was rebuilt in its present form. Inside you will admire frescoes by Francisco de Goya and other artists, a huge altar of alabaster from the XVI century and many evidences of miracles occurred in that Basilica, such as the well known Milagro de Calanda (Calanda Miracle), when a young man from the Teruel village of Calanda, whom had just being amputated his leg, was staying in his bed when appeared the Virgin Mary together with two Angels; she talked to him and suddenly the leg started to grow again. You can take a lift to the top of one of his towers to enjoy amazing views of lovely Zaragoza.

What's really great:
Aljaferia castle, today the Junta of our Aragon Government
Aljaferia castle, today the Junta of our Aragon Government
The Aljaferia was a fortress/ palace consisting on a walled quadrilateral architecture bordered by 12 cylindrical tours plus a rectangular Homage Tower. In its south eastern side was the mihrab, with a caliph horseshoe form. It was erected in the XI century during our historical period of the “Taifa Kingdoms” by the muslim kings of Zaragoza. In those times it must have been one of the most sumptuous buildings in Europe. When Zaragoza was re-conquered by our King Alfonso I El Batallador, it was used by him as residence and enlarged with adjacent buildings. Our Catholic Kings (Isabel of Castilla and Fernando of Aragon) used it as the Royal residence, then it became a jail in Inquisition times, and during one of our frequent civil wars in the XIX century the chapel was destroyed. It was also a kind of military quarters. Today is the seat of the Junta de Aragon Government. They accept tourists with a determinate schedule; inside there are lovely gardens and richly ornamented Arab rooms.

Zaragoza market where you can buy Aragonese fruits covered with chocolate
Zaragoza market where you can buy Aragonese fruits covered with chocolate
There are many tourists’ attractions in Zaragoza. Just the lovely park Primo de Rivera is worth a whole morning. Besides the Basilica del Pilar is the fascinating Seo, or the Cathedral de San Salvador, although you will have to pay if you want to enter in the time when there are no religious ceremonies. Inside you can visit the Hall of Treasures. The Navigation Museum, showing how the Romans came by boat to Zaragoza (Cesar Augusta) from the Mediterranean, is next door to the Seo, and the visit is very didactic. The Museo de Goya is free of charge and the two stories building contain many original Goya. Its address is Plaza de los Sitios 6, Zaragoza 50001. Phone (976) 222181, or 225282. Fax 976/222378. Email
It is open every day except Mondays from 10 to 14 and from 17 to 20 hours. Free of charge! Apart from Goya paintings there is section of archaeology in the ground floor.
Ah! And do not forget to visit the Central Market, besides the statue of Cesar Augusto!

Pension Gil is on the right of the bridge over River Ebro
Pension Gil is on the right of the bridge over River Ebro
There are several 3 stars hotels in the same Plaza del Pilar, the neuralgic centre of Zaragoza, its soul and the most historical part.
I went to Zaragoza for a concert of Bunbury together with friends and we had no much money, therefore we stayed in Pension Gil, Calle San Juan Bosco 12, Telephone (976) 557526.A single is 15 euros and a double 25 euros. We were satisfied; the Pension (hostel) Gil is clean and centrally located, in the historical part, without lift, and the owner, a helpful lady, gave us a lot of tourist information. If you can afford a 3 stars hotel, then I suggest you HOTEL RAMIRO I, which is super, just in the same Plaza de la Basilica. We asked for the price: 55 euros a double, including breakfast. Address is: Coso 123, Zaragoza 50001, Phone 976/298200, Fax 976/398952.
Outside of the town oz Zaragoza there is Youth Hostel for backpackers with dormitories where you can prepare your food, but been the Pension Gil so cheap and centrically situated we did not go there.

African tourist playing JOTA alone in Plaza Pilarica
African tourist playing JOTA alone in Plaza Pilarica
In Zaragoza there are clubes to watch the beautiful JOTA, which after the Andalusia Flamenco is the most attractive and gorgeous dance in Spain. The dancers play castanuelas and dress with traditional colourful and beautiful clothing, like in Goya times (XVIII century style). The rhythm is very contagious. Aragon artist Francisco de Goya painted many frescoes (as sketches for carpets) representing this nice dancing, that you can watch in our Museo del Prado, Madrid. You can order a group of Jotas in a restaurant for a special party of familiar event. In the Club Nautico they play jotas very often for weddings. The musicians play percussion and rope instruments, the singers sing “coplas”, many of them are humoristic, and the rest are dancers who play castanuelas and perform gracious small jumps. In the Mexican Yucatan, Merida for instance, they have also a dance which origin is the Aragon’s Jota: Danza del Panuelo (Handkerchief Dance) or Jarana Yucateca.

Besides this Goya monument is the pubs area called Turbon
Besides this Goya monument is the pubs area called Turbon
There is an Aragon singer, called Bunbury, who composed the best musical group of Spain: Heroes del Silencio. Now he sings alone and lives in Zaragoza. If you are lucky you can assist to one of his concerts in Palacio Principal hall (Main Palace) or sometimes in the many pubs of Turbo area.
Although Zaragoza is not Madrid, nevertheless there is an area with great ambiance until well into the sunrise: Turbon area. My favourite place for nice pubs is in Calle Alfonso I, a pedestrian and lovely street in Zaragoza, just in front of the Basilica, where there is a charming pub looking like having being built in the XIX century, with pleasant atmosphere, where they serve delicious Irish coffees and cappuccinos with a large variety of pastries and ice creams.
Vertical Tavern in Calle Latassa number 53, has a typical Spanish ambiance, with modern music, billiard, and you can order tapas. Their web is:

With my friends in Club Nautico before the concert
With my friends in Club Nautico before the concert
For restaurants my first choice is the “Club Nautico”, just in front of the Pilarica, by the River Ebro, name that derives from Ibero, the first Spanish ethno that together with the Celts formed “Celtiberia” in our Peninsula, the present Spain and also Portugal, which formed a single country until the Portuguese preferred to get definite independence from Spain in 1640. This Club Nautico has also an Officers Club in the basement, where from time to time gather the Generals and high Officials of the Spanish Army.
You have to try the Ternasco which is a delicious entrecote. Aragon fruits are dried pears, peaches, cherries, etc., covered with chocolate. They are delicious and cheap; just for 3 or 4 euros you will be given a 300 grams bag! And try Carinena wine, very similar to the famous Rioja wine.
You have several more restaurants in the Plaza de la Pilarica. In the corner with the street Jaime I there is a self service (eat as much as you can) inexpensive, which offers excellent food.

Other recommendations:
The Holy Grial is in this Cathedral in VALENCIA. Not anymore in Jaca
The Holy Grial is in this Cathedral in VALENCIA. Not anymore in Jaca
Jaca is the jewel of the Pyrenees Mountains. It is situated in the North of Zaragoza, in the Aragon province of Huesca, near France. It is a well known ski resort and was candidate to organize the Winter Olympic games of 1994, but we lose (The winner was Lilihammer).
Jaca was the old capital of Aragon before Zaragoza, and its cathedral was erected in the XI century.
The Pyrenees Mountains of Aragon are the most beautiful and spectacular in Spain and France. In the Aragonese Pyrenees lays the highest peak (3404 metres) called Aneto in Spain and Nethou in France.
One of the Camino de Santiago (Saint James pilgrimage) starts in Somport, north of Jaca, where we have a shelter for pilgrims. Then the Camino pass near the cradle of the Kingdom of Aragon: the startling monastery of San Juan de la Pena (rock in English), which is a must for every pilgrim and tourist alike and, according to the legend, it contained in the past the Holy Grial, which is now in Valencia Cathedral.

Published on Saturday December 24th, 2005

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Wed, Feb 21 2007 - 03:43 PM rating by travler

I learned a lot from reading your report and looking at the pictures. The holy grail is every where from Ethiopia, France, England and here!!!

Mon, Jan 22 2007 - 04:00 PM rating by mrscanada

I've been to Spain but not here. Next time I go I must see the "holy grail".

Sat, Jan 07 2006 - 08:45 AM rating by magsalex

Excellent report

Sat, Jan 07 2006 - 12:59 AM rating by jarome

G'day Issac,
This is a really good and informative report. Well done.

Fri, Jan 06 2006 - 03:39 AM rating by bhairavee

It was great going through such a informative report.
wish you a happy new year 2006.

Wed, Dec 28 2005 - 02:41 AM rating by mkrkiran


Thanks for bringing the report with such interesting read


Tue, Dec 27 2005 - 01:32 PM rating by eirekay

Isaac, thank you for another beautifully written report! I enjoy all the historic details and great photos!

Mon, Dec 26 2005 - 06:09 AM rating by davidx

I hadn't any great desire to see Zaragoza - until reading this. Wonderful.

Mon, Dec 26 2005 - 12:07 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report

Sun, Dec 25 2005 - 12:04 PM rating by rangutan

A fantastic report on an important historical site.

Sun, Dec 25 2005 - 04:41 AM rating by daniserralta

Hey Isaac!
Bueno, primero darte las gracias por dedicarme este report, es una inesperada alegria y un orgullo que haya gente al otro lado de la linea que se acuerde de mi de forma tan imaginativa.
Muchas gracias.
Especialmente un report sobre Zaragoza, donde tengo muy buenos amigos con los que tengo la deuda pendiente de un dia ir a la fiesta de la pilarica. quien sabe? quizas el anyo que viene?
Muy buena informacion (Aunque como seguro comprendes no comparto alguna de las opiniones expuestas.) ;) que sera muy util para futuros viajeros a Aragon.
Hasta pronto y un saludo desde algun lugar de Africa!!

Sat, Dec 24 2005 - 07:18 PM rating by gloriajames

Hiya Isaac!!
Beautiful enticing report!
Well done,

Sat, Dec 24 2005 - 04:48 PM rating by downundergal

Another information filled report. Well done!

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