Zaragoza is a city in the north-east of Spain, which is located on the banks of the Ebro River and is the capital of the autonomous region of Aragon. Zaragoza is the fifth largest city in Spain and has a rich centuries-old history. We offer you a selection of the best sights of Zaragoza with a photo and description that will help you not to miss the most important tourist places of the city.
In the 1st century BC, during the colonization of the Iberian Peninsula, a new settlement was founded on the site of what is now Zaragoza by the Romans. It was called Colonia caesaraugusta or Colony of Emperor Caesar Augustus. Hence the modern name of the city. By the way, among the sights of Zaragoza there are also ancient ancient Roman monuments. In the years 712-713, Zaragoza was conquered by the Arabs and was conquered by the Spaniards only in 1118 during the Reconquista.
1. Cathedral of Our Lady of Pilar
The most impressive attraction of Zaragoza, for which many dream of visiting this city, is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Pilar (Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar). This is the main temple of the city and one of the largest baroque cathedrals in Spain. Its length reaches 130 meters in length and 67 meters in width. The building of the Cathedral consists of 4 towers and 11 domes, so it impresses with its monumentality and grandiose size. The basilica is considered the first shrine in Christian history, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the center of the cathedral is a statue depicting Mary with a baby in her arms.
Several centuries earlier, a Romanesque-style church was built on the site of the Cathedral in honor of the liberation of the city from Muslims by the troops of King Alfonso I, but it was destroyed by fire in 1434. The construction of the modern temple building began at the end of the 17th century and continued for 200 years. In this regard, the architecture of the basilica includes elements of several directions: Rococo, Baroque and neoclassicism. The cost of visiting the Cathedral is 2 euros, a ticket for visiting the towers is 3 euros.
2. Pilar Square
Pilar Square (Plaza del Pilar), on which the Cathedral of Our Lady is located, is one of the busiest tourist spots in Zaragoza. This square is also called the city hall, as public performances are often held here. In Pilar Square, in addition to the Basilica, there are the Town Hall, the Cathedral of San Salvador (more on this below), city courts, the monument to Francisco Goye, and the Exchange building (La Lonja de Zaragoza), built in the first half of the 16th century as a place for trade activities.
In Pilar Square, there is another interesting attraction of Zaragoza - the futuristic fountain-waterfall Ispanidad (Fuente de la Hispanidad). The fountain was built in honor of the community of Hispanic countries, which is called Hispanidad. The fountain shape is a map of Latin America. At the top, the waterfall forms a map of the Yucatan Peninsula and Central America. The waterfall flows into a small pool that mimics the shape of South America and Tierra del Fuego.
3. Alhaferia Palace
Another unique symbol and the most important attraction of Zaragoza is the Alhaferia Palace (El Palacio de la Aljaferia). The exceptional significance of the palace is that it is the only architectural structure that has been preserved since the reign of the Muslim emirates of Typhus. The fortified palace of Alhaferia was built in Zaragoza in the second half of the 11th century at the initiative of the emir Ahmad al-Muqtadiir as a residence. This palace (called the Happiness Palace at that time) reflects the prosperity and splendor that was achieved by the emirate of Typhus during the period of political and cultural prosperity.
Over the centuries of existence and change of rulers, the Palace of Alhaferia has undergone many reconstructions. Significant restoration work was carried out in the second half of the 20th century. In 2001, Alhaferia Palace was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cost of visiting this attraction of Zaragoza is 5 euros.
4. Cathedral of San Salvador
The Cathedral of San Salvador (La Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza) is the second cathedral of the city in importance, but the first in antiquity. The second name of this historical landmark of Zaragoza is La Seo Cathedral. It was built on the site of the ancient Roman square to replace the oldest mosque, the minaret of which was converted into the main tower of the cathedral. The temple began to be erected in the XII century in the Romanesque style, it underwent numerous rebuilds over several centuries and was only completed in 1704, when a baroque spire was installed on the cathedral tower.
The architecture of the cathedral absorbed a wealth of styles from different eras, including Baroque, Gothic, Mudejar. The main building material was brick, which was especially popular in Aragonese architecture. The Cathedral of San Salvador is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A temple visit costs 2 euros.
5. Pedestrian street Calle Alfonso
Alfonso Street (Calle Alfonso) is the main pedestrian street of Zaragoza, which is located in the historical center of the city near Pilar Square. The street stands out for its beautiful historic buildings, modern fashionable shops, small tourist shops and cozy atmospheric cafes. This attraction of Zaragoza is not some unique object, but definitely this street has its own charm.
Alfonso street offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Basilica del Pilar, so you can take very spectacular photos of Zaragoza from here. The street was built in 1865 in order to improve the urban landscape, and now it is the main front street of Zaragoza.
6. Museum of the sculptor Pablo Gargallo
The Pablo Gargallo Museum (Museo Pablo Gargallo) is a monographic museum dedicated to the work of the famous Aragonese sculptor Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934). It is located not far from Alfonso street, in the building of the palace of Count Argillo, which was built in 1661. The palace has an open central courtyard, ground floor with an internal gallery and several rooms where the most important part of the exhibition takes place. The museum opened its doors in 1985.
The museum houses more than 170 works by an outstanding sculptor, including paintings, sculptures and numerous working documents. Among the exhibits is the famous Prophet, located in the courtyard, as well as two riders made for the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona in 1929 as a greeting to visitors.
7. Stone bridge of Zaragoza
Another important historical attraction of Zaragoza was the stone bridge in the center of Zaragoza (Puente de Piedra), which runs through the Ebro River, the most full-flowing river in Spain. Its second name is the Lion Bridge, as columns with statues of bronze lions symbolizing the city are erected on both sides of the bridge.
They tried to build the bridge at the beginning of the XII century, but construction began only in 1401 and was completed only after 40 years. Due to floods and other cataclysms, the bridge was reconstructed many times. Zaragoza's stone bridge is a great place for walking, as well as colorful photographs against the backdrop of the sunset and the wide Ebro River.
8. The central market of Zaragoza
The central market of Zaragoza (Mercado Central de Zaragoza) was designed in 1895 by the Aragonese architect Felix Navarro Perez. It was supposed to replace the traditional open-air market, which was located on the market square. Its construction was completed in 1903, and in 1978 the Central Market was classified as a national historical monument.
The Central Market building is made in a modern neoclassical style with a glazed facade and two arched entrances on the sides. Inside you will see counters with a variety of meat, fish, seafood, local fruits and vegetables. Food prices can not be called affordable, this place is designed more for generous tourists. It is likely that the exterior design of the building will impress you much more than directly the trading floors.
9. The Roman Walls of Zaragoza
The main ancient sights of Zaragoza include the Roman walls (Muralla Romana de Zaragoza), which refer us to the era of Ancient Rome. During this period, Zaragoza was a thriving colony of Emperor Augustus, Caesaraugusta , from which came its current name. The Roman walls of Zaragoza were built between the first and third centuries AD, its length reached 3,000 meters and included 120 defensive towers. At that time, stone walls completely surrounded the city and protected it from enemies.
To date, only a small part of the wall has been preserved, but even this allows you to touch an ancient history. The longest section of the wall, whose length reaches 80 meters, is located on Avenida de Cesar Augusto. The wall ends at the Torreon de la Zuda tower, another notable Zaragoza landmark that was part of the city fortification. The tower offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city.
10. Roman theater
The Roman Theater (Teatro romano de Zaragoza) is the oldest attraction in Zaragoza, the age and value of which is quite comparable to the Roman wall. The theater was built in the first half of the 1st century AD, during the Roman Empire. The ancient theater accommodated about six thousand spectators; the Marcellus Theater in Rome was used as a model during construction. It is certainly inferior in scale to the ancient Italian buildings, the more the building is barely preserved.
Until the third century, the Roman theater was used for its intended purpose, but gradually fell into decay, and the building materials began to be used for the construction of other architectural structures. Over time, the theater was covered with other buildings, and was discovered by archaeologists only in 1973.
11. Aquarium of Zaragoza
River Aquarium (Acuario de Zaragoza) - this is another popular attraction of Zaragoza, which is worth paying attention to. It was opened in 2008 for the world-wide international exhibition and became the largest river aquarium in Europe. The architect of the building was Alvaro Planjuelo. The area of the aquarium is 8.000 m2, it contains 120 freshwater species of animals (more than 1200 individuals). The central reservoir is 9 meters deep and more than 47 meters long, making it the largest freshwater aquarium in the world.
The Zaragoza aquarium includes 5 largest river ecosystems: the Nile (Africa), the Amazon (South America), the Mekong (Asia), Murray (Australia), Ebro (Spain). The popularity of this attraction of Zaragoza is growing annually. For example, the number of visitors in 2016 reached 85,000 - against 40,000 in 2012. The cost of visiting the aquarium of Zaragoza is 16 €.
12. Entertainment center Puerto Venice
One of the most striking and interesting sights of Zaragoza is the entertainment center of Puerto Venecia. This is not just a banal shopping complex for shoppers. Puerto Venice is a huge entertainment park, which includes shops, restaurants, attractions, playgrounds, a cinema and even a picturesque lake.
Puerto Venice has more than 156 shops and 40 restaurants. This is a great place where you can have fun and rich time with the whole family. The complex is popular among both tourists and local residents, in 2014 it was visited by about 18 million people. By the way, near the entertainment center of Puerto Venice there is a small amusement park in Zaragoza (Parque de Atracciones de Zaragoza).
13. Church of San Pablo
Another important tourist and historical attraction of Zaragoza is the Church of San Pablo (Iglesia de San Pablo), which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is called the third cathedral of Zaragoza. The church was built in the first half of the XIV century, but over the next two centuries the temple underwent a consistent expansion and reconstruction. This was due to population growth in the vicinity of San Pablo, where the church was located. Already in the Middle Ages, as many people lived here as in the historical center, surrounded by a wall.
The Church of San Pablo combines the architectural styles of Gothic and Mudejar. Initially, the church consisted of a polygonal nave, which was surrounded by chapels on both sides. In the 15th century, two additional naves were added, and until the 20th century the church continued to be reconstructed. The main altar made by Damian Forment in the 16th century stands out in the interior. The cost of visiting the temple is 2 euros.
14. Basilica of Santa Engrasia
The Basilica of Santa Engracia (Basílica de Santa Engracia) was built between 1891 and 1899 on the site of the Catholic Monastery of Hieronymity, which was destroyed during the siege of Zaragoza in the early 19th century. The monastery, in turn, replaced the ancient Roman crypt, where the remains of Saint Engrasia and other great martyrs of the third and fourth centuries were kept, executed for faith by order of the emperor Diocletian. Due to its sad history, this magnificent historical landmark of Zaragoza sometimes leaves a painful impression on tourists.
The Santa Engracia Basilica is one of the earliest and most outstanding Renaissance architectural works. It consists of one nave and two side chapels, the facade is made in the Baroque and Mudejar style. In the crypt of the Basilica of Santa Engrasia, two early Christian marble sarcophagi of the 4th century are found, found on the site of an ancient necropolis. The remains of St. Engrasia are placed in a simple chamber urn to protect the ancient relic from theft or desecration.
15. Francisco Goya Museum
The Francisco Goya Museum (Museo Goya / Museo Camón Aznar) is a museum of fine arts in Zaragoza. The museum houses more than a thousand paintings, of which the most significant half are exhibited in a permanent exhibition. Most of the paintings are from the heritage of the outstanding professor, academician, critic and collector Jose Camon Aznar from Zaragoza. If you like museums, then this attraction of Zaragoza is definitely worth a visit for cultural enrichment.
The museum was opened in 1979 and is located in the Renaissance palace, built in the historical center of Zaragoza. Museum exhibits are distributed on three floors. The cost of visiting the museum is 4 euros.
16. Natural Park of the Monastery of de Piedra
If you plan to devote more time to sightseeing in Zaragoza, then be sure to visit the Monastery de La Piedra. It is located 120 km from the city, but this place is worth your attention. The monastery de la Piedra (Monasterio de Piedra) was founded in 1194 by thirteen Cistercian monks. It is a national monument of Spain and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Aragon.
But the status of the most beautiful sights of Zaragoza, this place received due to the picturesque natural park near the monastery (Parque Natural del Monasterio de Piedra). The Piedra River forms a unique landscape with many waterfalls that attract tourists to enjoy the real miracle of nature. The highest waterfall in this park was the Cola del Caballo waterfall, whose length reaches more than 50 m. The park also has several caves discovered by the founders of the park.
Zaragoza attractions on the map
In order to travel in comfort, be sure to save yourself a map of the sights of Zaragoza with ready-made marks of interesting places to see.
If you are interested not only in the sights of Zaragoza, but also in the main tourist places of other Spanish cities, we recommend that you see: