Zaragoza

Zaragoza, during the first century BC, was a Roman settlement named Caesaraugusta, which was founded over an older site on the banks of the River Ebro. The remains of a forum and part of the walls are left from this time. After occupation by the Moors in the 8th century and reclamation by Christians in the 12th century, the two religious groups lived harmoniously for centuries thereafter. Hence Zaragoza, capital of the province of Aragon, has splendid intact monuments from both cultures despite the devastation of the War of Independence in the 19th century.

Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar
Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar

Sightseeing in Zaragoza

The Aljaferia – an 11th century Moorish palace chosen by the Catholic Monarchs as their residence and later became the headquarters of the Inquisition.
La Seo Cathedral – beside the main square in Zaragoza. A blend of styles, built in the 12th century over an existing mosque.
Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar – at the opposite side of the main square from the above. Has eleven domes and bright roof tiles. Inside is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, dressed in precious robes that are changed every day.

Francisco Goya

Saturn Devouring his Son, Goya
Saturn Devouring his Son, Goya 1821-1823
The lustre of Zaragoza was greatly contributed to by its distinguished citizen Francisco Goya. Born in Fuendetodos in 1746, he became famous as the official painter of the Spanish Court (his paintings of King Charles IV and his family are well known).

Goya started his career by designing preparatory drawings for tapestries and then took part in decorating the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar in Zaragoza. He distinguished himself by a considerable amount of work, more and more influenced by his private life (he became melancholic and introverted due to his progressive deafness) and by the events of the time (Napoleon’s invasion of Spain). He was impelled to depict subjects burdened with suffering and menaced by dark shadows of foreboding tragedy. Goya subsequently settled in France and died in Bordeaux in 1828.