Zaragoza, Spain

Back in October I took a trip over to Zaragoza to visit some old friends of mine.  Until that visit my only previous experience of Spain was as a kid on family holidays. As a result of this, most of my previous experiences had unfortunately been spent in package holiday destinations, where there are more British people than locals. I’m glad I took this opportunity to come back as an adult and see a different part of Spain. It really gave me a chance to step out of the tourist zone and see Spain from a different perspective; as a country steeped in history, rich in culture, and one that has left me with a passion to go back.

For those who don’t know, Zaragoza is a small city situated in Aragon, halfway between Barcelona and Madrid. It is a city with over 2000 years of history, and is one of the greatest historical legacies in Spain, which is unfortunately missed by many travellers in their haste to see the big cities. By chance I had arrived during the Fiesta del Pilar, which is a local festival held annually in honour of the Virgin of Pilar. The city comes alive for a week with music, parades, flowers, theatre, and little market stalls during this time, and provided a unique atmosphere for our arrival.

An unexpected treasure that I found whilst in Zaragoza is that the city is littered with Roman ruins. Every day more and more discoveries are made underneath the streets of the city, to such a degree that they are unable to ever build a subway or underground train line. Every time they dig down to make foundations they find another historical site and have to pack up and look somewhere else. As well as these great areas of historical importance, the architecture above ground is also incredible, with the Aljaferia Palace, Basilica de Nuestra Senora, and Pilar Cathedral being particular highlights.

Another great aspect to this city aside from the beautiful exterior was also the great array of tapas bars and local food. Although a little on the expensive side for a student like myself, the price for tapas here was cheaper than anything you would find in the major cities, and the taste definitely didn’t disappoint. I was also fortunate enough to experience local paella, along with my friends and old flatmates Paola, Javier, and Letita, as well as meeting Paola and Javier’s lovely families. It was really cool to meet 3 generations of a real Spanish family, see how they live, and taste some amazing homemade food. It’s just an experience that I couldn’t have had without them, and a great excuse to meet and make lots of international friends!

One thing that I was particularly looking forward to before coming here was seeing a real bull fight. At first I must admit, I was apprehensive. I knew from the beginning that I did not want to attend anything that involved killing the bull or any other animals, however I managed to find a showcase event where they do not harm the animals. It truly was a spectacular event, and I even got featured on Spanish TV in a few close ups in the crowd, which beats my only ever other appearances as the idiot in the background of the news!

There is so much more that I could write about Zaragoza. The great nights out, the artist communities, the friendly locals, and amazing shops, sights, and history, that I would be here writing all day if I was to tell it all. My advice though, for anyone looking to visit Spain, would be not to overlook the smaller towns and cities, with Zaragoza being a prime example of why going off the beaten track can be such a rewarding experience. It was through this visit to Zaragoza that I decided that I would come back this summer and learn Spanish, although not in the city itself, but somewhere on the coast (possibly San Sebastian). It really has left me with new found appreciation of Spain, and what can be discovered when you stray off the beaten track.

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  1. […] photo was actually taken with my camera phone while in Zaragoza. I love the […]

  2. […] Taken with my camera phone at the Fiesta del Pilar, Zaragoza. […]


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