Zaragoza’s attractions are mainly local architecture with visible Roman and Arabic influences. It is a remnant of the former Roman and Mauritanian rule, which was victoriously seized by Catholic kings, also in the capital of Aragon. The city tempts tourists with wide, well-kept streets and vast squares, as well as numerous monuments, both sacred and the estates of former rulers. It is an ideal place for all lovers of the Mudejar style in construction, thanks to which the city’s buildings have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Zaragoza has a very rich history, which can be seen from the number of places to see and visit. The city also tempts with its cultural offer, especially in October, when fiestas are held here in honor of its patron – Our Lady of Pilar. Then in Zaragoza there are concerts of various music, as well as dance performances, bullfights and, of course, church processions. However, in fact, some events and entertainment take place here all year round.
Attractions in Zaragoza are also remnants of Roman rule, mainly in the form of ruins. Even the very location of the city on the Ebro River makes it attractive in the eyes of visitors. Zaragoza is also considered one of the prettiest Spanish agglomerations. The fantastic local cuisine is also attracted to it, and many local restaurants serve real delicacies. The city is also a good place for fans of visiting museums, because there are many such facilities here.
Sightseeing of Zaragoza
Zaragoza, like most cities, can be explored on foot. The largest and most important monuments are located here relatively close to each other. So only by walking, you can reach most of them. On the other hand, the rest are just as easy to reach by simply using public transport. In Zaragoza, we have a choice of bus lines or trams.
The city is a good destination for a weekend trip. During these two or three days, you can visit most of the attractions and monuments in Zaragoza. Therefore, it is a place for a city break or a short trip abroad. Often Zaragoza is also visited by the way, traveling from Barcelona to Madrid as it is located roughly halfway along the way. The city is so interesting that it is definitely worth staying in.
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The best time to visit Zaragoza is summer, when the weather is the best. Temperatures are moderately high, but not so high as to make walking around the city difficult. So if someone wants cloudless weather, he must come to Zaragoza between June and September. However, there will be definitely fewer tourists in winter, early spring and late autumn, unfortunately then we have to reckon with more frequent rainfall and lower temperatures.
Monuments in Zaragoza
What monuments in Zaragoza are worth seeing and visiting? Let’s check them all out!
Basilica of Our Lady on the column
The largest and most recognizable monument in Zaragoza is the Basilica of Our Lady on the Column – Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. It was erected on the site where a Romanesque church stood until the 15th century. Although the basilica was originally built in the Gothic style with Mudejar elements, today, after many reconstructions, it is an example of rather Baroque architecture. It was built on the plan of a three-nave temple with a wreath of chapels, which has 11 domes and four towers.
The Basilica of Our Lady on the Column is one of the largest temples in Spain. Its name comes from the jasper column on which the Mother of God was to appear to Saint James the Apostle. Currently, it is there that the statue of the Mother of God with the Child, dating from the 15th century, was placed. In addition, inside you can see a chapel covered with frescoes by Francisco Goya himself and an alabaster altar from the 16th century with wooden benches from 1542. There is also a small museum and a treasury that can be visited.
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La Lonja Stock Exchange
The building of the former stock exchange – La Lonja, which dates back to the 16th century, is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in all of Aragon. Its construction lasted exactly 10 years and was initiated by local merchants. The stock exchange was built in the Florentine Renaissance style with a distinct Mudejar admixture. For many years it served as a place where commercial trade negotiations were concluded.
Today, the building of the La Lonja exchange is a kind of gallery and a place where not only art exhibitions, but also other cultural events can be organized. It is worth visiting it from the inside to admire the beautiful barrel-cross vaults, columns built in the Ionian style, or stone bas-reliefs and other ornaments.
Savior Cathedral – La Seo
Another important monument on the tourist map of Zaragoza is undoubtedly the Cathedral of the Savior – La Catedral del Salvador, called by the locals La Seo. It was erected in the 12th century on the site of a great mosque. Due to the many years of construction and numerous subsequent renovations, the cathedral has a very mixed style. You can see in it architecture typical of the Renaissance, Baroque or Gothic, as well as Mudejar accents, so popular in the old days. Even though the body was originally supposed to be typically Romanesque.
The distinctive element in the Savior Cathedral is definitely the soaring, baroque bell tower. It is also worth paying attention from the outside to the neoclassical façade and the typically Spanish wall, built in the Mudejar style. In the middle of the cathedral, on the other hand, you can admire the grille in the presbytery, wooden pews and the main altar richly decorated with carved figures (eg of the Teutonic Knights). In the belfry, on the other hand, you can see a rich collection of tapestries from the 15th to 18th centuries.
Tourist attractions in Zaragoza
Now let’s see what are the biggest attractions in Zaragoza.
The biggest tourist attraction in Zaragoza is the Aljafería Palace – Palacio de Aljafería. It is a former Muslim palace, built in the 11th century, fenced with fortifications. In later years, it was also the seat of the kings of the Aragonese dynasty. To this day, it represents one of the most beautiful Moorish residences in all of Spain. Currently, it is the seat of the state assemblies of the Autonomous Community of Aragon.
The Aljaferia Palace is divided into Palacio Taifal, which is the main part that looks like castles built in the Jordanian and Syrian deserts, and the Patio de Santa Isabel courtyard, which in turn is surrounded by columns and arcades. In addition, a mosque, a garden with fountains and the palace of Catholic kings have survived to the present day. It is definitely worth visiting the Golden Salon (Salón Dorado), which is a palace room lined with marble and decorated with Arabic inscriptions.
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Puente de Piedra bridge
One of the major tourist attractions in Zaragoza is also the stone Puente de Piedra Bridge, which rises above the Ebro River. It was built in the 15th century in the Gothic style, exactly in the place where a structure from Roman times had previously stood. It currently consists of seven arches with a total length of 225 meters.
Today the Puente de Piedra Bridge is only intended for pedestrian traffic. It is worth taking a walk through it both after dark, because it has been attractively illuminated and during the day, when you can see the panorama of the entire city, with the basilica at the fore. In addition, it is worth paying attention to the cross, more or less in the center, decorated with stone lions (symbols of Zaragoza), which is to commemorate the fight for independence.
Camon Aznar Museum
Another popular tourist attraction in Zaragoza is the Camon Aznar Museum. It is an object based on the collection of Jeose Camon Anzar, a historian and university professor, which he donated to the Aragon government. The Camon Aznar Museum is located in a Renaissance palace from the 16th century in Saragossa’s old town. From the outside, the building is distinguished by a pretty facade and a columned courtyard.
Inside, you can admire over 950 collected works of art. Including 14 paintings by Francisco Goya (e.g. portraits of Maria Luisa and Felix de Azara), as well as his engravings. In addition, you can see many avant-garde works, watercolors and drawings, and canvases depicting religious themes from the Baroque and Renaissance, as well as paintings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to contemporary works.
What’s worth seeing in Zaragoza?
Plaza de Pilar
While visiting Zaragoza, it is also worth seeing the most important square in the city, i.e. Plaza de Pilar. It is hard to miss it, because it is right next to the most important buildings in the capital of Aragon, i.e. the Basilica, Cathedral, La Lonja Stock Exchange and the town hall.
However, there are also two very interesting places worth seeing in Plaza de Pilar. The first is a sculpture that depicts a huge globe – Bola del Mundo. The second is the Spanish Fountain (Fuente de la Hispanidad) from 1991. Its shape is very unusual, but seen from a certain perspective it shows the map of Latin America. Additionally, in the evening the Spanish Fountain is nicely illuminated.
Aquarium River of Zaragoza (Fluvial Aquarium)
In Zaragoza, it is also worth visiting the Fluvial Aquarium, which on an area of eight thousand square meters will provide entertainment for the whole family. It is here on two floors that all the biodiversity that occurs in the beds of various rivers is presented. Over 5,000 creatures, inhabiting exactly five continents, await visitors. And so in the Fluvial Aquarium we have a biosphere from five rivers to see – the Nile, Amazon, Mekong, Ebro and Darling-Murray.
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Remains of Roman monuments
Another place that is also worth seeing in Zaragoza are the remains of Roman monuments. Among them, we can see the ruins of Roman fortifications from the 2nd century, as well as what is left of the Roman theater, forum, baths or even a river port. In the city, you can also come across quite well-preserved defensive walls, erected during the reign of Caesar Augustus from the 3rd century, which are as much as 80 meters. Other remains of the Roman rule were placed in the modern building of the city’s Historical Center.
Interesting places in Zaragoza
Parque Grande Jose Antonio Labordeta Park
An interesting place in Zaragoza is the Parque Grande Jose Antonio Labordeta park. It is considered the most beautiful green area in the city, distinguished by its spatial development. In addition to the traditional vegetation, alleys and benches, you can find here numerous fountains as well as monuments, including one of Alfonso the Brave (who beat Zaragoza in 1118). In addition, the so-called Goya Corner and the Botanical Garden are located in the Parque Grande Jose Antonio Labordeta park. During the siesta, the area is practically empty, so you can easily relax in the greenery after a day of sightseeing in Zaragoza.
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Museo de Zaragoza
Another interesting place in Zaragoza is the Museo de Zaragoza. All the collections of this museum are located in four buildings. However, the most important of them is housed in a Neo-Renaissance edifice, designed by Ricardo Magdalena and Julio Bravo, which was erected in conjunction with the Spanish-French exhibition in 1908.
At the Museo de Zaragoza, you can admire a collection of outstanding works of archeology, fine arts, ethnology and ceramics from the Iberian Peninsula, dating from the Lower Palaeolithic to the present day. You can also see works by Francisco Goya or Marian Barbasan, as well as by more oriental artists.