For those of you who don’t know, Zaragoza is a city located in Aragón halfway between Madrid and Barcelona *and* Valencia and Bilbao. (Four hours from each of these cities.) It’s one of the biggest cities in Spain, but it doesn’t have the fame as many other cities. It seems to serve as nothing more but a quick stop to bigger destinations, which is not fair at all to the city or province. The city has many things to offer without all the hustle and bustle, and for those wanting a city break without a bunch of annoying tourists wearing socks with sandals, Zaragoza is the place for you.
Aragón is the comunidad autonoma that once was part of the Kingdom of Aragón that merged with Castilla when its king Ferdinand II married Isabel. Don’t remind the Catalans this, but Catalunya (and Valencia and the Illes Balears)) were once part of the Kingdom of Aragón and their flags stem from the old Kingdom of Aragón flag.
Zaragoza also likes to name streets for films and video games. Where else could you have a tram stop named for The Wizard of Oz (El mago de Oz?)
My first time actually visiting Zaragoza was in February 2010. I had been through it a couple of times before on the bus from Madrid to Barcelona, but this was the first time I went specifically for Zaragoza. I was impressed. The best part is the Basilica de Pilar, the gigantic church that can be seen from afar. There are also Roman ruins that were just discovered in the 1970s. The city was named for Augustus Caesar. There is also the cathedral La Seo nearby, the river Ebro with several bridges, the Expo from 2008, and El Tubo, the best place in the city for tapas. I only spent one day and one night here, which is enough to see everything. It was a cold day (Aragón is known for wind and it has several of those modern gigantic windmills that make Quixote’s windmills in La Mancha seem miniscule.)
My second trip to Zaragoza was in October 2012 for the Pilares Festivals, which will be talked about more in the upcoming Spanish Festivals Part II blog.
And I just finished my third visit to Zaragoza in 2014. It seems I’m going here every two years. This time I was able to find out how nice the people of Zaragoza really are. My friend from Madrid says they are “bordes” (rude, rough and tough), but I found them to be quite friendly, welcoming and genuinely good people. They represent Spain well.
I also got to visit Calatayud, the second largest city of Zaragoza, this visit. It’s well worth the visit with several castles, old churces and amazing views.
There are a few Meravelles that I still have yet to discover in Zaragoza, such as Monosterio de Piedra and Sos De Rey Catolico, which I’m going to have to have a car to visit. But for now, I will leave with the wonders that I *have* seen.
Set Meravelles de Zaragoza
1. Basilica de Pilar
2. Festival de Pilares
3. Puerto de Venecia (the largest shopping centre in Europe?)
4. Roman ruins in Zaragoza
5. Cathedral La Seo
6. El Tubo for Tapas