A Week In Zaragoza

Not somewhere I’d thought about visiting, Zaragoza never featured on any must-see list I had stashed away. Husband had been a few times on business, when he needed to make a trip the week before Easter and we realised Son was off school we decided to join him. Husband had often declared how much he liked Zaragoza, and that, together with the fact our time there would coincide with the Holy Week or Santa Semana processions meant I was getting keener by the minute.

I do admit to having to look up exactly where we were headed on the map – I knew Zaragoza was somewhere vaguely north in Spain, lesson learnt I found it in the north east of Spain mid-way between Barcelona and Madrid in the ancient land of Aragon. It tends not to be on the main tourist trail but having been there now, I can safely say I do not understand why that should be. It is cosmopolitan and buzzing but with history galore – Catherine of Aragon and her father Ferdinand both came from this area and it was Ferdinand’s marriage to Isabella, the Queen of Castille and Leon that led to the unification of Spain.

03.30.005 - Zaragoza

We flew budget airline into Barcelona and drove 190 miles west for 3 hours to Zaragoza. Not a particularly interesting journey but it did give us a feel for this flat, dry province. Zaragoza though straddles the Ebro – supposedly Spain’s greatest river – in a fertile plain.

03.29.004 - Zaragoza Bull

Founded by the Romans in 14 BC, the Roman street plan still defines the heart of the city and we saw remains of the forum, baths and theatre. It is not all about them though, the city has been a capital for Moors and Medieval kings and we found a stack of Moorish, Romanesque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau architecture.

03.30.045 - Roman walls

The city was bustling and had the most wonderfully wide boulevards. We found not one but two cathedrals – this is still a pilgrimage centre after the legend goes that the Virgin Mary appeared to St James on the banks of the river and ordered a church to be built here.

03.30.008 - Pilar

03.30.069 - La Seu

The whole place felt very contemporary but at the same time had a sense of timelessness. Around the narrow streets of El Tubo is an area filled with tapas bars and it just feels like proper real old Spain. The food was delicious too – the tapas is incredible and the wine equally great. Apparently Aragon has some of the best vineyards in Spain.

03.30.072 - Zaragoza

We all loved this small and walkable city stuffed to the brim with bars and restaurants. The basilica is drop dead gorgeous and if you want to escape all the hustle and bustle there are walks along the banks of the tranquil river. Our week was spent browsing in the shops, visiting the churches and admiring the architecture, taking in those incredible processions and basically stuffing ourselves with tapas, churros and ice-cream. Low prices and incredibly few tourists made this a gem of a place to spend Easter week.

03.30.031 - Pilar

03.30.086 - Zaragoza

63 thoughts on “A Week In Zaragoza

  1. I’ve only ever done coastal Spain – the horridly tourist bits around The Med. I’d love to return and experience proper Iberia! 🙂

    • Zaragoza would be a great place to start for sure – we just loved it, such a beautiful city with so much history – completely different to those touristy places and at Easter time it is really extra special.

  2. Zaragoza is one of the most beautiful cities in my country! Glad you visited and liked it! The photos are beautiful!
    Btw, the road between Barcelona and Zaragoza is not the most beautiful (you have to travel though the Monegros desert…). Madrid-Zaragoza is more beautiful and if you make a little detour, you can visit the lovely waterfalls of the Monasterio de Piedra :)!

    • We just loved the city and everything about it, from the cathedral to the tapas to those Easter processions, it is such an incredible place. We didn’t mind the drive from Barcelona really – just a bit tired from a super early morning flight!! We did actually make the journey to the Monasterio de Piedra and loved it there too – I will blog about it eventually, it’s so lovely I couldn’t not!!

      • Glad to read that! Easter in Zaragoza is unique and very beautiful indeed! I’ve been in the Easter celebrations in Madrid, Cartagena and Sevilla and Zaragoza’s impressed me a lot!! And the Monasterio was one of my favourite places when I was a little girl 🙂
        I’m looking forward to seeing your photos from the Monasterio then!! 🙂

  3. Looks like a beautiful place to visit, I’ve been to Madrid and southern Spain but never ventured that far north – looks like another place to add to the places-to-visit list 🙂

    • It is such a stunning city, very beautiful with loads of history and that tapas scene is just amazing. Buzzing and a lovely place to explore – we just loved everything about it.

  4. Zaragoza is a great place! We only had a couple of nights there, but could easily have stayed much longer. It definitely deserves to be more well-known as a spot to visit

  5. Thanks for this post! Im also going to Zaragoza in August (yes, I’ll probably melt under the sun on that period!) as I’m going to visit my boyfriends village, Ainzon… I can’t wait to taste the tapas and wines from there, he talks about them all the time!😄

  6. Looks lovely. I’ve been fascinated by Catherine of Aragon, poor woman, since I was a teenager. The first historical biography I ever read was of her so she set me on a path for life.

  7. I’ve been to most places in Spain in my backpacking days but have missed Zaragoza! What a shame, seems exactly like a place I love. Most of my most preferred places there are in fact less known…

    • It’s mid way between Barcelona and Madrid so you could choose either but still have a bit of a drive to reach Zaragoza. There is a high speed train from Barcelona which looks great but we wanted a car to be able to explore a little around the city too. I think you can fly from Stansted direct to Zaragoza but then you have the trek down there if you live up north!!

    • I know exactly what you mean, I’d heard of it but it meant nothing to me and I could never have picked it out on a map. So glad we got to go there, it is a hidden treasure.

  8. I’ve never heard of this place but it looks beautiful. I love places that aren’t the typical touristy places, where the crowds are not the focus of life. We need more places like this. Nice post, Joy.

  9. Joy, I have to admit that I had never heard of Zaragoza and had no clue what country you were going to until I read! What a gem, love when you find places that are not overloaded with other tourists!

  10. A beautiful city Joy, I was pleased when you explained where it was, I’d not heard of it before now, but certainly it’s somewhere I would now consider visiting. Most areas of the world that are away from the main tourist routes tend to be far more interesting and enjoyable to visit, and that certainly appears to be the case for Zaragoza 🙂

    • The centre is really beautiful Susan – we were really taken aback at what a lovely place this was, streets made for strolling, set on a river and that gorgeous church – it’s a shame the outskirts were so misleading!!

  11. Sounds a fascinating place Joy! The history is so interesting and the bars and tapas sound a great way to spend a week’s holiday! Have never been to Spain though Monsieur has many moons ago (he stayed in a small village near Leon in a mountainous area) and Mlle has ben to Barcelona, Valenica and San Sebastián. Zaragoza sounds well worth a trip!

    • We’ve been to various places in Spain down the years Rosemary and always enjoyed it there. Never been to San Sebastian though, one of our friends has recently and it is definitely sounding more than interesting to me!! This was an unexpected trip for us, never planned to visit or had any desire to go to Zaragoza, we just tagged along on a work trip but it blew me away. Full of history and culture, great food and those incredible processions – I would definitely recommend it!! Hope you’re having fun on your travels..

      • Sounds a wonderful spontaneous spur of the moment trip Joy! San Sebastián really appeals to me as well – have seen a few tv programmes on it and Mlle loved it! You’re in the basque region there too and it sounds very interesting – beautiful harbour and fantastic food amongst other things. I’m now up in Yorkshire – lots of family stuff going on but my dad and I had a great day out in York yesterday in spite of the freezing cold ( sleet showers all day and bitter north wind!). Had a lovely few days in London last week with Mlle and going back down there end of this week and then on to the continent. Have put up quite a few Instagram photos (link on side of my blog and no need to have an account to access them). Thought that was easier that writing up blog whilst away. Am able to get on to WordPress via the app on my iPad but it’s not always very user friendly! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend 😃

  12. I read your Zaragoza posts backwards – I am soooo looking this up now! I seriously would be happy to spend a week here – I love ‘old’ Spain and the food – those hams looks amazing!

    • The food here was extra specially superb – known for its tapas there are stack of places and it seemed like the locals eat out most evenings – though why wouldn’t you if you had choice like that!!

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