Zaragoza & Aragón
BEST PLACE & MUST SEE SIGHTS
Choose your path. The province of Zaragoza is a group of territories whose privileged have enabled them to learn and benefit from all their cultures. Snaking through land which changes skin from wooded mountains to valleys, the river Ebro is the backbone of the province of Zaragoza. This river has watched various different cultures come and go, leaving the enduring legacy of historical monuments. In Zaragoza there’s no time to get bored because there’s always something enjoyable to do. How about a stroll around the remains of the Roman city?
Beside the enormous stones of the sturdy walls, the statue of the emperor Augustus looks over the city that he founded. At the other end of the Plaza de las Catedrales is the underground Museum of the old Roman Forum and close by, next to the River Ebro, is the Museum of the old Roman river port. In the old quarter, you can visit the Museum of the Public Baths and nearby, that of the Museo del teatro, one of Hispania’s biggest auditoriums.
But if Zaragoza flourished in Roman times, it would do so again under Moorish rule. In the 11th Century, Zaragoza became the political and cultural capital of a prominent taifa (Moorish principality) of Al-Andalus. You can see this for yourself walking through the patios of the palace of La Aljafería, one of the crowning achievements of hispano-islamic art and currently the seat of the Aragon Regional Government. The beautiful interlace and mulitfoil arches of its patio de Santa Isabel combine with the murmur of the water and the aroma of oranges, transporting you to the world of Thousand and One Nights. In the silhouette of the old city, a group of Mudejar towers stand out: San Pablo, la Magdalena, San Gil and San Miguel, all UNESCO World
Heritage sites. The distinguishing features of this style are also stamped on many of the surrounding villages: Alagón, Utebo, Monzalbarba, Peñaflor, La Puebla de Alfindén and Alfajarín, amongst others.
The city’s prosperity during the Renaissance is evident in the buildings which take you by surprise as you turn every corner in the historic quarter. La Lonja and palaces such as Sástago, los Luna, Montemuzo, Torrero, Morlanes and above all the spectacular Patio de la Infanta are examples of this thriving period in the city’s past.
Who hasn’t heard of Goya? Zaragoza is the perfect place to get a close view of his works, such as the frescos decorating some of the domes and supports of the Basilica del Pilar and the murals in the nearby Carthusian monastery of Aula Dei. The Museum of Zaragoza has devoted one of its most important sections to his works, and in the Ibercaja Camón Aznar Museum you can see his series of etchings and an interesting collection of paintings. There is also a portrait of Fuendetodos painted by the artist in the Diocesan Museum.
One of the best ways to enjoy Zaragoza’s super atmosphere is to take a tour of its varied and delicious culinary specialities. The area most famous for its tapas is in the old quarter, in particular the area of el Tubo and the plazas of Santa Marta, San Miguel and Santa Cruz, where you can nd both traditional es- tablishments with a long history and new places showcasing im- agination and good taste.
But in a city like Zaragoza, it would be unfair to limit yourself to the oldest areas. There are many other districts with a range of atmospheres and di erent things to o er, such as the University area, with its throng of students. Every year in Zaragoza, there are tapas competitions to test the imagination of the chefs and the loyalty of the customers. Thanks to these contests, tempt- ing creations are developed which combine high-quality produce with painstaking presentation.
On the banks of the Ebro rises the unmistakable outline of the Basilica of el Pilar, the quintessential icon of Zaragoza. Spain’s largest baroque place of worship, it is also an important pilgrimage destination, forming part of the Ruta Mariana. And there are also artistic treasures to be found inside: the Santa Capilla, with the image of the Virgin Mary, the alabaster
altarpiece by Damián Forment, the magnificient Coro Mayor (choir) and the marvellous frescos decorating the cupolas, especially the two painted by Goya.
Just a few metres from El Pilar is the splendid Cathedral of San Salvador, La Seo, an eclectic combination of artistic styles, can be found. An outstanding feature of the exterior is the wall of the chapel of San Miguel, a masterpiece of Zaragoza Mudejar and inside is a Gothic main altarpiece of multi-coloured alabaster. Its Tapestry Museum houses an extraordinary and unique collection of Flemish tapestry.
The city’s collection of museums is completed by the Pablo Gargallo and Pablo Serrano Museums, both devoted to contemporary sculpture.
In Zaragoza, Modernist architecture is evident mainly in private dwellings and is particularly noticeable in the decoration of their facades. Good examples can be seen along the Paseo Sagusta and in the main streets of the old town. There are also interesting civic buildings such as the Central Market and the bandstand of the Parque Grande. This park, also known as the José Antonio Labordeta Park, together with the Parque del Agua, are the lungs of the city, where locals stroll and enjoy sporting activities.
Zaragoza is a modern and dynamic city, bustling with economic and social activity. It is also a renowned con- ference location, renovated and improved after the International Exhibition of 2008. The Pabellón Puente, Torre del Agua, Acuario and the Aragon Conference Centre make up its splendid legacy of infrastructures.
In the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees, water and rock have created beautiful scenery which make a perfect place for relaxation and hydro- therapy treatments.
Since ancient times, the spas of Alhama de Aragón, Jaraba and Paracuellos de Jiloca have used their mineralised medicinal waters in the prevention and treatment of pain. Complemented by medical services and facilities, they currently provide a wide variety of specialised treatment. And what’s more, these spas have been transformed into complete relaxation centres where you can take a break from the stresses of daily life. Their marvellous natural surroundings are also perfect for activities such as hiking and cycling.
All in all, modern facilities and a welcoming atmosphere create a tranquil environment which is the perfect setting for thermal treatments.
More Info: www.balneariosdearagon.com
The Piedra Monastery
This old 12th-century Cistercian monastery is located in a park where the River Piedra has spent millennia carving the rock into stunning waterfalls and caves.
This nature park is a fantastical garden created by the river, with a succession of varied and beautiful waterfalls. The Lago del Espejo, cascada Caprichosa, Baño de Diana and Cola de Caballo, a waterfall of 50 metres in height, behind which the spectacular Gruta Iris cave is hidden, will transport you to paradise.
The park is home to dense riverside woodlands and an ecosystem of enormous diversity, with numerous animal and plant species, and a great variety of huge hundred-year-old trees.
You can complete your walk with a guided tour of the 12th-century Cistercian monastery. In high season, you can also enjoy bird of prey exhibitions.