The Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is perhaps, along with the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and La Sagrada Famila, one of the most famous and frequently-visited Catholic cathedrals in all of Spain. According to tradition, it traces its founding back to the era of St. James ve saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary instructing him to build a church on the spot.
Since then, the church has undergone an amazing expansion arriving, finally, at the hulking baroque wonder we have before us. Once you enter Zaragoza, you notice it's four towers and massive dome peeking between buildings and along the horizon, calling you to visit. The first thing you notice as you enter are the proportions: it's massive...really, breath-takingly massive. The gargantuan pillars hold up a ceiling covered in giant domes, each one decorated by some of Spain's most famous artists like Goya. Staring down the football-field sized basilica and taking in the domes, the paintings, the geometric tiled floors, and the excruciatingly detailed decoration of the altars and chapels built into the walls is really an impacting sensation.
Make sure to get there early so you can visit the north end of the cathedral as well (they close it off many times in the afternoons) and enjoy the silence, space, and light filtering through the domes and taking the elevator ride to the top of the San Francisco de Borja tower to enjoy the views of the basilica from above.
The Aljafería Palace was probably the best thing I visited in Zaragoza, although its Mudéjar churches and basilicas were great too. This castle-palace was built by the Moors in the 11th century and, along with the Alhambra in Granada and the Mosque in Cordoba, is one of the best examples of Islamic art and architecture in Spain.
The courtyard with its gently tricking waterfalls, creeping ivy, flowers, and Islamic archways, is the definition of tranquility. Later, as you move through the rest of the building, it's like traveling through history. You move through rooms that are Islamic, Mudéjar, Renaissance...all with those mind-boggling ornate ceilings which are so common in Spain.
It's free to visit on Sundays (although you can't visit the administrative part, but who cares?) and if you get there early, you'll beat the tour groups and have the place to yourself. I think this should be your first visit in Zaragoza. You won't regret it!
This is an ideal place to spend a morning, buy some souvenirs, visit the Cathedral, eat at the restaurant Las Palomas (buffet, self-service), sunbathe, take a sightseeing bus, enjoy an ice cream and contemplate the beautiful river running behind the Cathedral.
I went on a photography course in the summer and, one evening, I came across a spectacular scene in the city. I had to capture it with my camera. It happened pretty fast, as few minutes after the sun was gone it was completely obscured. This is the final result, I hope you like it.
La Seo Cathedral is, in my humble opinion, the most stunning cathedral in Zaragoza, even more than the world-famous Basilica de Pilar. It's located at the east end of the Plaza de PIlar, right behind the Roman Forum museum.
Externally, it's geometrically-stunning Mudéjar wall of the Parroquieta gives you an indication of the granduer which lies inside. The whole cathedral is done in white ceilings and columns and there are some of the most ornate and complex chapels I've ever seen. Back in the day, only the wealthy could afford to add a chapel or mausoleum to the walls of the cathedral and it became, I imagine, something of a status symbol. You can see that each family tried to out do the others in terms of beauty, ostentatiousness, and opulence.
There are chapels featuring massive marble sculptures, Moorish tile work, wrought iron, gold leaf, amazing oil paintings, and intricately-designed floral sculptures in stucco. Simply put, it's overwhelming. You can literally spend hours in here going over the details. Even if you're not an architecutre or design buff (which I'm definately not), it's a wonderful place to be. You 100% have to make a visit if you're in Zaragoza.
The stone bridge of Zaragoza is an old bridge, built in the twelfth century, which was built to ensure that at any time of year, people could cross the river Ebro. They began building the bridge we see today in the fifteenth century, but there are older parts. There is also a parapet called San Lazaro, and back then it functioned like a wall that kept river water from flooding the city center.
At that time, the city was just located in the old city center, and people passed the bridge just to go to work the fields that were on the other side, or for traveling. The bridge represented a breakthrough at this time, as it was one of the first permanent bridges in the country, and improved the level of communication and trade, making things much easier for people in the region. It also improved conditions for those in the basin of Madrid and the city of Barcelona. It was built in ashlar stone. They were recently restoring the bridge, so it could only be seen from a distance. With the Cathedral del Pilar next to it, it makes for a very nice view of the city.
The museum of the Theatre of Caesaraugusta, in San Jorge street, next to the exhibition of the Rosario de Cristal, forms part of the Romanic route of Zaragoza, together with the Museum of the Public Baths of Caesaraugusta, the Museum of the River Port of Caesaraugusta and the Museumof the Forum of Caesaraugusta. The entrance costs €2.5 but it’s possible to buy a combined ticket for the four museums of the route for €7 or €5 for students.
You can take photos in the interior, but without flash. Of the museums on the route, this is the largest and the most complete, having three visible floors. At street level there are two rooms with information panels about the evolution of the city and the theatre throughout the years. In the basement you can see various models of the theatre and remains found during the excavations, basically remains of statues. On this floor you can also see an audio-visual presentation, which in this case is projected in a cinema type room, with seats. Also you can get access to the remains of the theatre itself, the most interesting thing in the museum.
It is not as spectacular as the roman theatre of Mérida, but it is quite well preserved. Finally, on the first floor you can see various display cases with ancient coins and various audio-visual explanations, as well as a virtual theatre. Worthwhile visiting this museum.
This museum is located in the Plaza de la Catedral de la Seo, across the square from the Basilica del Pilar, so it's hard to miss. This museum is part of the Roman route that runs through Zaragoza, together with the Public Baths Museum, the River Port Museum, and the Theatre Museum. Admission is €2.50, but you can buy a joint ticket for the four museums for €7 (€5 if you are students). You're allowed to take pictures inside, though not using flash. The museum has three floors, although the ground floor has nothing but the reception. Upstairs, you can see the remains of the ancient Roman forum and the market. On the second floor, models show what life was like in the forum, and there are some windows showing ancient remains, like pottery and pieces of statues. Here you can also enjoy a film that runs for about 10 minutes, showing the arrival of Romans in the city. Definitely worth a visit.
Something that caught my attention is that this bridge had its own website, so I leave it for you here so that you can take a look, it's a bit little curious. Its structure is huge and makes you feel tiny, and yet despite its cost, especially at the economic level, it seems to me more striking than pretty.
The international exhibition was held in Zaragoza with it's main focus being water. The tower photographed is the most representative of the exhibition as it shows the shape of a drop of water as seen from above. Other buildings of interest are the Pavilion of Spain, the Pavilion bridge, designed by the famous architect Zaha Haid, and also Aagón row. The exhibition ends in late September.
The Church of Santa Maria de Magdalena is one of the many eye-catching Mudéjar churches found in Zaragoza, and has perhaps the most aesthetically beautiful Mudéjar tower, complete with geometric brickwork, arched windows, and green and white tile-work reminiscent of Moorish mosque architecture. The structure itself dates back to a 12th century Romanesque church but the current incarnation was completed in the 14th century.
To get there, just head east in the Plaza de Pilar and go behind the Seo Cathedral. You can't miss the tower!
The Caesaraugusta Roman Baths Museum, located between Calle San Juan and Calle San Pedro, is part of the Roman road of Zaragoza, together with Caesaraugusta Theatre Museum, the Caesaraugusta River Port Museum and the Caesaraugusta Forum Museum. Admission is €2.5 but you can buy a joint ticket for the four museums along the route for 7.00€ (5.00€ for students). You can take pictures inside, but no flash. The museum is quite small, so you need just 20-30 minutes to see everything. It has only one room, where you can see the remains of a large pool, a model of Roman baths, and several glass cases which describe the objects that were used in the baths. In this room you can also watch a short show, about 10 minutes long, that offers you a glimpse into the interesting history of the baths and explains how they were used during the Roman period.
The exterior of this church is absolutely stunning. It's a style called "Churrigueresque," a type of Spanish Baroque which emphasized maximum detail in minimum space. It's dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Portugal (also called Elizabeth of Aragon), queen of Portugal ve was canonized in the 16th century.
The most attention-drawing aspect of this church is its imposing facade of columns, designs, and sculptures done is white alabaster and marble. The fact that it's actually in marble and not just carved gives a whole other sense of grandeur to the building.
Zaragoza Aquarium is the largest freshwater aquarium in Europe. It has a huge freshwater tank with 2 million litres of water and a depth of 9 metres. In the aquarium you can learn about the river systems around the world, with one for each continent: Nile (Africa), Mekong (Asia), Amazon (the Americas), Murray-Darling (Oceania) and Ebro (Europe). Although the vast majority of animal species exhibited are fish, you can also see some vertebrates such as reptiles (alligators, snakes, turtles and lizards, etc.), mammals (otter, marmoset), and amphibians (frogs). A great place to visit, really fascinating.
Curious about what to do in Zaragoza? Start by talking a walk right through the heart of the city, crossing the River Ebro by the Roman Bridge visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, without doubt one of the best-known Zaragoza attractions. Inside you can see the venerated image of the Virgin Mary.
Walking through the Old Town, you'll find plenty of stuff to do in Zaragoza. Next to the basilica, you can see the beautiful Seo Cathedral. And do not miss the Palace of Aljaferia, the Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, the Roman Walls and the Iglesia de Santa Isabel de Portugal - all stunning and historical places to visit in Zaragoza.
To recover after a busy day's sightseeing, there are plenty of more relaxing Zaragoza activities. The Tubo district in the city center, found between Martires, Cuatro de Agosto and Estebanes streets, is famous for its tapas bars. Here you'll find more of the top things to see in Zaragoza, like the Church of Saint Gil Abad and the Sastago Palace.
The 2008 World Expo also left other, more modern attractions in Zaragoza, like the Third Millennium Bridge and the Water Tower. And finally, outside the city you can find other things to do in Zaragoza that reflect the history and culture of Aragon. Villages like Muel, famous for its ceramics, Longares, and Fuendetodos, the birthplace of Goya, are some of the most frequent excursions for tourists.