The open air city museum
The 5th in size from the Spanish cities, Zaragoza has its particular charm, partially by its history, partially by its development over time.
Situated on the old settlement of Caesaraugusta, name received in the honour of Cesar Augusto in 14 B.C., it is often recognised in history as Saraqusta, due to the Arabic influences. A weekend might not be enough to discover in details all its beauties resulted from the mixture of the different influences that arrived to the area. Let’s see some of them:
The Catedral-Basilica de Nuestra Señora de el Pilar raises its towers on the riverbank of Ebru. It is the biggest Baroque temple in Spain and its inside hosts priceless works of arts of different artists such as Goya and Francisco Bayeu (both born in the area of Zaragoza). The construction of the temple started at the end of the 13th Century. Various buildings were added until the 1961 so you can easily find different expressions of architectural styles. Its insides are pretty much a museum–alike exhibition and it worth the visit even if you’re not very religious or a big fan of churches.
The other cathedral, La Catedral del Salvador (La Seo), has a mixture of Romanic, Gothic Mudejar (Muslim-Christianised architectural style) and Baroque, another beauty on inside. Same as the basilica, this also has a huge variety of artworks done by famous painters and sculptures.
El Palacio de la Aljaferia, an Arabic fortified palace built in the mid 11th Century was used as the summer residence of the Hudies kings. Important to mention is that after the plans of this palace, the great palace of Alhambra (Granada) was further built in the 14th Century.
The Muslim inscriptions and building usage, mixed with the Christian influences and strategic position give this place a particular influence on you while listening to its stories. Today, the palace is open for the public visit, as well as in one of its sides hosts the Aragonese Parliament, in resemblance to the palace’s history when Los Reyes Catolicos used this place for government issues.
We’ve seen Zaragoza’s belen (Christmas scene), a painting exhibition and Goya’s Museum, which dear for me to say, you should put it on your list, the old Roman walls and the old center in its whole.
Our last stop was at the Roman treasure. The Museum of the Public Termae of Caesaraugusta hosts the remaining of the Roman public bath complex from the 1st Century BC. The bath was in the middle of Caesaraugusta, between the forum and the theatre and had the typical areas of changing rooms, warm and cold rooms or a physical activity room. The museum nowadays offers the visitor the chance to understand into deepness the Roman lifestyle.
Our Zaragoza adventure finished with a country music concert in the basement of the hostel we were sleeping in. Interesting atmosphere with obvious fans of country music with jeans, hats, cowboy boots and all that danced on the rhythms of this Barcelona band that sang for us that night.
Goodnight, Zaragoza, good to be back, Murcia!