It’s a busy year this one. After two citytrips and a backpacking trip for more than three weeks I still hadn’t had enough of the travelling microbe. Or maybe I did, but the trips was already booked ;-).
I want to go to Spain at least once a year. That way I could practice my Spanish. This year we decided to go to Zaragoza. The choice wasn’t so hard to make. We wanted a direct and cheap flight from Brussels to a city that I hadn’t seen before. Et voila! Zaragoza it was.
Zaragoza is the capital city of the Comunidad de Aragón. It’s located in the northern part of Spain, more or less on the same line of Barcelona, but more inland. We went there in the end of September/ the beginning of October and the weather was still great, around 28-31°C.
We stayed for three nights in the Río Arga hotel. The location of the hotel was great, near the center of the city and not so far from the tapas district neither (yummy for the tummy). Other aspects of the hotel could be better. At night we could hear the other guests coming in, so earplugs are necessary. Breakfast wasn’t great either. One tip: go early enough to avoid noisiness and too much people in a small room :-). If the breakfast isn’t included in your stay, don’t have it in the hotel. There are plenty of places in the direct neighborhood of the hotel to enjoy a nice breakfast.
We arrived around 9h in the Zaragoza airport. We took the bus towards the center of the city. I think there’s only one bus you can take from the airport. It was € 1.85 per person (way cheaper than the € 20 for a cab :-)) and we just got off at the last stop of the bus. After that we had to walk a few minutes to get to our hotel. We could start visiting the city at 10h30… so it really didn’t take a lot of time.
We started our trip by having breakfast at Pan y más. After that we jumped into a few stores – to buy some necessaries – before starting our trip around the city. We passed by the Iglesia de Santa Isabel do Portugal while getting towards the Mercado Central, where we walked around for a bit. Meat, cheese, vegetables and fruit, fish and squid, … I think we know where all the restaurants buy their food.
After that we passed by the statue of Caesar Augusta near the Murallas to get to the main square of Zaragoza: the Plaza del Pilar. It’s also the place where locals and tourist come to hang out, as it is one of the biggest pedestrian areas in Europe. Walking around the square you can find a lot of sightings. Let’s start with the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. Inside the basilica you can’t take any pictures, although that doesn’t stop anybody from taking them, except me. You can also find the Acensor del Pilar there. That’s an elevator that takes you to the top of one of the churchtowers where you can enjoy a nice view over the city, the Ebro and the basilica.
Near the basilica you have the Torréon de la Zuda and a church. Between the Tower and the Basilica you can find the Fuente de la Hispanidad, which represents the map of Latin-America. At the other side of the Basilica you can find La Lonja (the place where they used to trade all the goods that were coming in from the harbor) and the Ayutamiento (city hall) of Zaragoza.
After that we went to the Tubo District, also known as the tapas district, to eat some tapas before resting and taking a siesta. Our daily routine here, as everything was closed between 14u-16u/17u. In the afternoon we walked towards the Iglesia de Santa Maria de Magdalena and from there we walked back towards the Catedral de San Salvador (La Seo). You could visit the church, but I don’t like paying to enter a church (except the Sagrada Familia or the Notre-Dame de Paris) – but the cathedral in Zaragoza wasn’t an exception. So we didn’t enter. We also couldn’t take any pictures – so why pay ;-)?
Around 17h we could visit the museums of Caesaraugusta. There are four main museums: you have the Roman Forum, the old Harbor, the Roman Theatre and the Roman Thermes. They are all € 3 or € 4 to enter, but you can also buy a combi-ticket that’s valid for a few months, for € 7. So that’s what we did.
On our first day we visited the Museo del Foro de Caesaraugusta. The remains of most of the ruins can be found under the ground. In this one you could find the rest of the foundations of the Roman Forum, mainly the water canals to make sure that the Ebro didn’t flood the city of Caesaraugusta. The audiovisual we saw, was in Spanish, because we weren’t the only ones there… a bit of a pity that it wasn’t subtitulated in English though, as not everyone speaks Spanish :-). But it looked great, with speeking statues and all ;-).
The second one we visited was the Museo Del Puerto Fluvial de Caesaraugusta, the old harbor of the city. The audiovisual was in English here, as we were the only once to visit the place. Whoop!
We decided to close the day with an evening stroll over the Puente de la Piedra to get a view of the temple from the other side of the Ebro. You can also find the Parque Macanaz there, a small little piece of green near the Ebro.
Our second day we started with the two other museums. First we went to the Museo de las Termas Públicas de Caesaraugsta, where you can find an old swimming pool of the Romans. It’s hard to imagine that the rest of the terms are gone. But they didn’t know for a very long time that there was actually something under the grounds of the city, as the Moors and the other people after them build over the ruins of the Romans. The audiovisual makes the baths come alive again. We were alone here as well, so another museum all to ourselves.
The last museum that we could visit all alone, was the Museo del Teatro Romano de Caesaraugusta. This is the only one that you can see from the outside as well, as the ruins of the theater are the only ones that aren’t buried under the ground.
Next to the latter one you can find the Museo de los Faroles y Rosario de Cristal. It was closed during our stay, because they were preparing for the Fiestas del Pilar (which begin around the weekend of the 12th of October). It’s a museum where they show pieces made out of rose windows.
A bit further away you can find the Parroquia de San Miguel de los Navarros and the Plaza de los Sitios, a nice little park. A bit further away, inside de Ibercaja you can find the Patio de la Infanta. It was built by Gabriel Zaporta, a converted Jude. We walked back to the city center passing by the Basílica de Santa Engracia and the Puerta del Carmen, an old city gate.
After holding a siesta again, we walked towards the Acuario de Zaragoza. The biggest aquarium in Europe and of the biggest in the world. It’s only a half hour walk from the Plaza del Pilar towards the Aquarium.
Today we walked along the Iglesia de San Felipe y Santiago el Menor (yes, another church) and the Plaza de Toros de la Misericordia to the Palacio de la Aljafería. The fortified palace has a free entrance on Sunday (it’s closed in the afternoon). It was built in the Middle Ages with Islamic influences. On some days you can’t visit the palace, because it’s now home to the parliament of Zaragoza. It’s the only monument that remains from the Spanish-Islamic architecture during the reign of the Taifas.
In the afternoon we walked to the Parque Grande José Antonio Labordeta. The park lies close to the university of Zaragoza (also a half an hour walk from the Plaza del Pilar). It’s the biggest park of the city and a lot of people visit the place, not only to catch Pokémon during these dangerous times, but also to walk around, hang out, pick nick and so much more.