The settlement in Zaragoza goes all the way back to the Romans, and it is now the capital of the region of Aragon. The city has an amazing and complicated history, which makes it a great place to spend a few days.
Spain's largest river, the Ebro, runs through Zaragoza.
One of the best known sites in Zaragoza is the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar. The present Baroque church was constructed between 1681 and 1872.
One side of the Basilica faces the river, while the other faces one of the best plazas we found on our trip (or any other trip, for that matter).
The interior of the Basilica is rather ornate, to say the least. This is just a small side chapel. Unlike many other churches, there is no big, open central area.
Our hotel, the Hotel Alfonso, was in a perfect location for exploring the city on foot, just around the corner from the start of Calle de Alfonso I, a great pedestrian street that leads straight to the Plaza de Nuestra Senora del Pilar and the Basilica. Most of the time we were in town this street was packed with people. It took a brief but heavy downpour to clear it out, but after a bit it was filled with people again.
Zaragoza today is not only the capital of Aragon but also a university city, and it has a really vibrant feel to it. Something I had never seen or heard of before are the Charanga bands that wander the city. A charanga is a small musical group of wind and percussion instruments, and these bands even had their own little groups of fans or dancers wandering with them, along with anyone else who joined in. It looked like everyone was having a great time. We saw at least two of these groups on Saturday night.
The city has excavated and preserved much of its ancient Roman heritage, including an amphitheater that is now the site of a museum.
Aragonese food, like that in the rest of Spain, is great. Here's an Aragonese Salad and Rice with Duck Breast and Mushrooms at El Ciclon.
We also had to eat several of these Jamon (cured ham) sandwiches along the way. They are very simple, just sliced cured ham on bread, occasionally the bread is rubbed with a tomato first, but not always. It seems like we had one almost every day as a late afternoon snack, or sometimes a late evening snack after an earlier dinner. Sightseeing is a lot of work, you get hungry.
Click here to see more images from our visit to Zaragoza, Spain in May.