It’s the fifth-biggest city in Spain
OK, so you’ve definitely heard of Spain’s biggest cities – Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville, but have you heard of Zaragoza? Zaragoza is in fact Spain’s fifth-largest city, even bigger than more popular places such as Bilbao or Malaga, although it’s rarely talked about and is visited by few international tourists compared with the others.
It’s the capital of the region of Aragón
Zaragoza is the capital of Spain’s autonomous region of Aragón, which used to be its own kingdom. This means that it’s home to lots of grand monuments, palaces and houses. A few of these places include the Moorish Aljafería Palace, the grand Museo de Zaragoza and the intricately decorated Casa Solans.
It’s home to some of the best Moorish architecture outside of Andalusia
Spain is filled with magnificent pieces of Moorish architecture – vestiges from the 800-year rule the Moors had over much of the country. Most of these grand palaces and fortresses, however, are located in the south of the country – in Andalusia. The best example to see outside of Andaulsia is Zaragoza’s Aljafería Palace. Built during the second half of the 11th century, it’s filled with ornate Arabic arches and intricate carvings. Today, it’s the house of the parliament of Aragón, but can be visited on a guided tour.
It’s one of the best places to see works by the artist Francisco de Goya
The famous Spanish artist Francisco de Goya was born in the small town of Fuendetodos, around 45km south of Zaragoza. Because of this, the city of Zaragoza is one of the best places to see works by the artist. To see some of the best, visit the Collection Ibercaja Museum Zaragoza Goya, which houses 15 of his most important works.
The city has over 2,000 years of history
Zaragoza has over 2,000 years of history, and has been been ruled by the Romans, the Moors and the Christian kings – each one leaving their mark upon the city. Today, you can see remains of Zaragoza’s history in the Roman ruins of the Teatro Romano, the Aljafería Palace, the Mudejar-style churches and the baroque Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.
There are fascinating places for day trips nearby
There are many places located within an hour of Zaragoza, which make for great day trips. These include the abandoned ghost town Belchite, the Piedra Monastery, the Mudejar town of Tarazona and and the Reserva Natural de los Galachos de la Alfranca. Check out our article on the best day trips from Zaragoza to learn more.
It has a unique cuisine
Aragón, like many regions in Spain, has its own cuisine, which is different from other areas. Aragonese cuisine features lots of types of hearty stews, packed with both meat and vegetables, as well as quality produce from haricot beans, to onions from Fuentes, and asparagus from the banks of the River Ebro. It’s also known for its various types of fruit. Dishes to try in Zaragoza include pork loin sausage, cured ham from Teruel, cod al ajoarriero and lamb.