A Historical City that Honors its Past While Building for the Future
Zaragoza, Spain, might not be the first, second, or even third Spanish city that comes to mind, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a city full of exciting activities, hidden gems, and cultural masterpieces.
It’s the fifth-largest city in Spain and lies in the northeast part of the country. It’s a city known for its magnificent architecture and great artists, which means it’s a city that is beautiful everywhere you look.
It was a city formerly ruled by the Romans, then the Moors, so there is a cultural mix to be experienced throughout the city, as well as a rich history.
It lies in the Aragon region, which is known for having its own flavor of food, different from every other part of Spain, with amazing meat dishes prepared such as pork loin sausage, cured ham, and lamb.
Given the Roman and Moor roots, it is a city that has a vast religious influence as well and offers some of the most famous cathedrals in the world.
In this article, we’ll be covering 14 of the landmarks and places that make Zaragoza, Spain not just somewhere that is worth visiting, but somewhere that is worth exploring.
See Also: Amazing things to do in Cuenca, Spain
1. Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar
The amazing cathedral is a sacred and intriguing cornerstone of catholic history. It’s the place where many people believe that the Virgin Mary came to Santiago, or Saint James, on top of a pillar of jasper, thus where it gets its name “Pilar.”
The chapel of the cathedral was centered around this infamous pillar, and the pillar was left untouched as a remembrance of this holy visitation. Aside from the chapel, there are many other churches surrounding it that all congregate to form the basilica.
You can ride a lift to the top of the northwest tower, which will offer you a view of the entire city. On top of the pillar now rests a sculpture of the Virgin Mary and a child, this sculpture was done in gothic fashion. Its name translates to Plaza of Our Lady of the Pillar.
This amazing basilica is not to be missed if you visit Zaragoza, due to its significance to the catholic religion, its history, and its beauty.
General Admission is 2 euros and free for children 10 years and under
2. Aljaferia Palace
Palace was created in the 11th century by the Arab people, and although the palace itself has diminished due to its incredibly long lifespan, the remains of it are still kept in good care.
It serves today as the headquarters of the Aragonese Parliament. It was built for the Taifas Kings and was later on fitted for the Christian Kings through Fernando el Catolico.
It’s a rectangular courtyard with exterior towers that make for a lot of places to explore, in addition to porticoes and reservoirs. It features an impressive Throne Room as well. This palace is worth visiting to delve into the religious backbone of the city.
General Admission is 5 euros and 4 euros for a group (more than 20 people). It’s free for Sunday and for children 12 years and younger.
You can check their opening schedule here
3. Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza
It is the first Christian cathedral located in Zaragoza. It was built in honor of San Salvador and sat where the Roman Temple of the Forum used to be, as well as the Visigoth church and the Higher Moslem Mosque.
It was built with Romanesque fashion and dates back to the 12th century. Additions to the cathedral can be identified since they’re built with bricks as opposed to the original stonework.
In the central apse, there sits a significant sculptural piece that is hidden behind the High Altarpiece. There are Gothic additions to the church from the 14th century as well, including the chapel of San Miguel, which holds the alabaster sepulcher of the prelate and features a giltwood ceiling. This incredible church will give you a glimpse into many different architectural periods.
|Adults||From 18 to 64 years||€ 4.00|
|Teenagers||Under 18 years||€ 3.00|
|Senior||Over 65 years||€ 3.00|
You can check their opening hours here
4. Puente de Piedra
De Piedra translates to “Stone Bridge.” It is the oldest bridge to cross the Ebro River, dating back to 2000 years ago when the city was founded. The bridge spans 225 meters, across seven arches, although one of these arches was buried by the Echegaray and Caballero promenade.
The bridge sits where a similar bridge sat during the rule of the Romans, which served as not only a bridge but also an aqueduct, one of Roman’s premier engineering achievements.
The original bridge is believed to have been built with stone and wooden boards, and it is known that it originally stood in the first century and was critical for Caesar Augustus gaining access to the northeast region of Hispania.
The river is much wider now than it was 2000 years ago, but the bridge still stands. This impressive feat of engineering is not to be missed.
Address: 50014 Zaragoza, Spain
5. Jose Antonio Labordeta Park
It is known as Grand Park, this park is the largest in Zaragoza and features a vast green space of more than 100 acres. It features beautiful green trees, a botanical garden, artistic fountains, and historical monuments.
The Paseo San Sebastian goes by many fountains, manicured hedges, and vivid rose bushes. This is the main avenue through the park and was inspired by the sights in Versailles, France.
There is a massive statue of King Alfonso El Batallador. At the bottom of this statue sits a bronze lion, the signature symbol of the city of Zaragoza. The Rincon de Goya is a pavilion that was crafted in the Rationalist style to pay homage to the first centennial of the passing of the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya.
Not only is this park beautiful and calming just to look at and walkthrough, but it also offers a great look at the history of the city through its statues and monuments and features a wonderful museum and botanical garden.
6. Aquarium River of Zaragoza
River aquarium is unique in that it features aquatic life from the five major rivers of the world: the Nile, the Mekong, the Amazon, the Darling Murray, and the Ebro.
There are many exhibits, and learning opportunities for children, and some of the most impressive animals featured are sturgeons, anacondas, piranhas, otters, crocodiles, and titi monkeys.
In total, there are over 300 species to explore and learn about. The central tank is 40 meters long and 9 meters deep, an impressive volume, and runs through the center of the building.
There is an auditorium where exhibitions and speakers are hosted, and behind this stage, there is an aquarium as well, an impressive backdrop undoubtedly. This unique aquarium is one of a kind and can only be found in Zaragoza.
|Adults||Adults 13 and older||€ 12.00|
|Youth||Youth from 5 to 12 years old||€ 6.00|
|Child||Childe from 3 to 4 years old (under 2 are free)||€ 4.00|
7. Museo Pablo Gargallo
Museum teaches about the life of sculptor Pablo Gargallo. Gargallo was a close friend of Picasso and is known as Zaragoza’s second most influential artist, only behind the great Goya.
The museum is housed in a 16th-century building and features Gargallo’s drawings, sculptures, engravings, cartoons, and interesting information and exhibits that teach about the artist’s life.
Pieces worth mentioning include The Prophet, featured in the courtyard, and two horseback groups made for the Olympic Stadium of Barcelona in 1929, named Olympic Greeting.
The museum grew significantly in 2007 when it was renovated and grew by 40%, adding an entirely new building. The life of this amazing Spanish artist and his works are a pleasure to learn about.
General Admission 4 euros and 3 euros for children
You can check the opening hours here
8. Goya Museum
Goya was a romantic artist that specialized in paintings and prints. He has been determined to be the most significant Spanish artist of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
This museum exhibits 14 of his most noteworthy paintings and the incredible five grand series, engraved by Goya himself. The works range in chronology from his youth all the way to his life in Bordeaux, where he passed in 1828.
In addition to his paintings and etchings, the museum features paintings of Goya done by other famous artists. Goya is one of the most important if not the most important person to come from the city of Zaragoza, and if you’re visiting, you can’t miss out on learning about why he was so revered.
General Admission is 6 euros and 5 euros for groups of 10 to 25 people
9. IAACC Pablo Serrano
It stands for the Aragonese Institute of Contemporary Art and Culture. It features culture from not only Zaragoza, but around the world, and includes pieces by the sculpture that it’s named after, Pablo Serrano.
The museum’s goals are to exhibit contemporary art and culture native to Aragon and teach about the collections. Also, they offer other Spanish and international works, especially other sculptures. They also host observatories that address current events and issues from a diverse set of disciplines.
The museum was renovated and extended to host more activities. This museum is one of the many great opportunities to explore art in Zaragoza.
Free to visit and closes on Monday
10. Monasterio de Piedra
Monasterio de Piedra, or Stone Monastery, is an old Moorish castle donated in 1194 by Alfonso II to a few monks. The spot is a paradise and features incredible gardens.
The main church itself has been damaged beyond repair during secularization under Isabella II, but what remains of this Gothic and Baroque display is still impressive. The remains stand as a symbol of strength against the attempts of secularization.
Nearby is the Piedra River, and a park connected to the monastery features views of incredible waterfalls created by the river, the most notable being the Cola del Caballo, which is 50 meters tall.
There are trails that lead guests through some of these incredible sights, such as a reflecting pool held in a canyon, named “Mirror Lake.” This monastery is not just an incredible display of history and architecture; its also an incredible piece of nature.
Ticket Fees ( You can buy it online)
|Adults||Adults 12 to 64 years||€ 14.40|
|Child||Children from 4 to 11 years old (under 4 are free)||€ 9.90|
|Senior||Senior over 65 years||€ 9.90|
11. Zaragoza Central Market
Central Market is Zaragoza’s best market, and that’s saying something because there are numerous markets in Zaragoza. It also offers a historical aspect and is housed in an incredible space comprised of columns, archways, and naves, which lend similarities to some of the landmark architecture around the city.
It began in 1903, making it the most historic market in Zaragoza. Come here to get any fresh food you desire, including seafood, meats, vegetables, cheese, and baked goods.
12. CaixaForum Zaragoza
CaixaForum is an incredible feat of modern architecture and contrasts with the deep historical architectural roots of the city. The building is impressive since it’s top-heavy. The upper floors span over the bottom floor in cantilever fashion, creating space for people to walk and congregate beneath. This building is one of the purest examples of what modern design is capable of.
General Admission is 6 euros
13. Puerto del Carmen
It is one of the historic city gates of Zaragoza. It’s created in Roman arch fashion, and endured much stress through war, including the “Battle of Sites” during the War of Independence. In spite of this incredible wear and tear, the gate has remained at the intersection of Paseo de Pamplona, Paseo Maria Agustin, Avenida de Cesar Augusto, and Hernan Cortes street.
It is known as the last of the 12 doors because there used to stand 12 of these gates, but now only Puerta del Carmen stands. This gate is a glimpse into what life used to be life when war was imminent, and security was a priority for the city of Zaragoza.
14. Museo del Teatro de Caesaraugusta
It was the only Roman city that bears the name of the emperor in full. Now, in honor of the city founded in 14 BC, there are museums dedicated to the format of the original city, including hot springs, the forum, the river port, and more. The museum pays homage to the original city while also offering world-class theatre performances and exhibits.
|Adults||Adults 12 to 64 years||€ 4.00|
|Child||Children under 7||Free|
|Senior||Senior over 65 years||Free|
How to Get To Zaragoza from Madrid and Barcelona
Madrid: The fastest way to get to Zaragoza from Madrid is via the train, which will cost you anywhere from $30-70 via Madrid-Puerta De Atocha. You can use this link to buy tickets online. The ride will take you about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Barcelona: There is a 501 bus that will take you from Barcelona airport to Zaragoza quickly and for a low fare. The bus ride will be about three and a half hours and will cost you 20 euros. The buses leave from Nord bus station. You can use this link to buy tickets. If you prefer to drive yourself, you can take the AP-2, which has tolls and is more expensive than by bus.
Other Activities in Zaragoza:
Kayaking in Zaragoza: The Ebro River is one of the most well-known rivers in the world, and its heart is in Zaragoza. Paddling the Ebro will take you by incredible bridges, including Third Millennium Bridge, Pavilion Bridge, and Stone Bridge, as well as by Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, and you’ll be departing from the marvelous Parque del Agua Luis Bunuel. Seeing the city from the river is unforgettable.
Midday market and tapas tour: This tour of the city’s unique cuisine will take you through some of the most notable food destinations in the city, including through the central food market, multiple tapas bars, which the city is known for, and amazing wine to top it all off.
Travel to the 11th century in the Pyrenees: This time-traveling trip will offer an exploration of a Syrian church built-in 1050 BP. It will also take you through San Pedro de Larrede, a church only 10 years newer than the Syrian church. The tour will continue through San Juan de Busa, and subsequently through Java and its famous cathedral. You’ll see the old monastery of San Juan de la Pena, enjoy food in front of the monastery, enjoying a view of the fields and woodlands. In addition to history and architecture, the landscapes and views along the way will be breathtaking.
Wildlife & Mudejar art around Zaragoza: This trip will take a total of four hours. It will encompass a 2000-year-old Roman dam, the fabulous paintings of Francisco de Goya (the most famous Aragonian artist), and the village of Mule and the Huerva River, where you’ll be able to witness various beautiful birds. The tour will also include travels to Belchite, two abandoned villages ravaged by the Spanish Civil War, and lastly to an ornithologist reserve and the fountains of Ebro. This trip will take you back millennia and along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy art and nature.
Best Places to Eat in Zaragoza:
Restaurante La Senda: La Senda or “the Path” is a quaint restaurant in Zaragoza that features modern styles of cuisine. The restaurant also has an extensive inventory of wines to pair with their creative modern menu. Their low-temperature egg is what they are most known for and comes topped with onion, ham, mushrooms, and potato ash bechamel.
Taberna El Sardi: This tavern has a welcoming feel to it along with certain compactness that makes it feel more communal. Their menu features traditional Spanish offerings such as picon cheese, anchovies, potes pomace, and more. You can view their raw ingredients in displays to see what great ingredients they make their food from. And every restaurant isn’t a great restaurant until they have great bread, and this one certainly does. In the winter they’ll feature various stews to warm you up. This tavern has it all and on top of it all, you’ll feel at home.
El Calamar Bravo: This place is known for its rivalry with Mejilonera, with the founder of Mejilonera working at Calamar Bravo for a time and then splitting off and creating their greatest competitor. El Calamar Bravo features menu items such as squid sandwiches, chorizo omelets, and incredible tapas of course. The restaurant has moved from its original location, but the squid sandwiches remain just as legendary as they always have. Pair the sandwich with a beer for the best results. You won’t leave disappointed.
El Chiringo: This restaurant offers traditional Aragonese cuisine made with fresh ingredients. These food items include zucchini salad, thistle with almond and shrimp sauce, cod omelets, fresh-caught sea bass, and more. If you’re looking to eat how the people of Zaragoza eat, this is the place to visit. The restaurant simply screams tradition.
Places to Stay in Zaragoza:
Eurostars Zaragoza: This four-star hotel is located in Delicias Station, a perfect central location to see the wonderful city of Zaragoza. Eurostars are known for providing excellent amenities and exquisite hotels. Many of the rooms offer incredible views through floor to ceiling windows and are close to destinations such as the Torre del Agua, Pabelion Puente, and the Expo.
Hotel Rio Arga: This hotel is located in the main shopping district of Zaragoza. The rooms feature private balconies, a perfect addition to enjoying fresh air and views of the street below. The rooms are quiet and soundproof and there are many bars and restaurants nearby in the El Tubo vicinity. It’s located in the Casco Antiguo neighborhood and is near the Zaragoza-Delicias railway station.
Hotel Pilar Plaza: This hotel is located in the central part of Zaragoza in a historic and beautiful building that towers over the open plaza below. The Plaza del Pilar bustles below and features incredible architecture and planning right outside your bedroom window. Perhaps the biggest selling point of all is the view of the Basilica of the Virgin of the Pilar, one of Zaragoza’s most famous landmarks.
Airbnb: As always, Airbnb is an option if you’re looking for places to stay. There is a wide range of places in different locations and at different price ranges throughout the city.
As you can see, Zaragoza is a city that is full of history, architecture, food, and art. It’s a city that has enough to explore without cessation.
Its historical roots and modern touches are equally as impressive, and as a city, it only gets better with age. Take a visit to one of these places, and you’ll be rewarded with a cultural experience, unlike any other.