5 Things You Can Do In Zaragoza In One Day
by April Felicia Cedillo Fojas
Zaragoza is definitely one of my favorite cities to visit because of its beautiful architecture, its deep history, and its food. In comparison to the other well-known cities of Spain, such as Barcelona and Madrid, Zaragoza is quite different. I found it to be quieter and more mellow, at least in the area that we were in. We stayed in a very cozy hotel called Hotel Sauce, the people there are very friendly and the staff treat each other like family, they also sell some very good marmalade (I will leave their details below in case you are curious). The people of Zaragoza, in general, were very friendly. I don’t think I remember a single place we went to where the people weren’t kind. If you were to ask me, Zaragoza should be on your itinerary. If you’re going to Barcelona from Madrid or vice-versa you could stop by Zaragoza since it’s right in between these two cities. Ideally, it would take you a day or two to see the highlights of the city. I’m here to tell you the 5 things you can do in Zaragoza in just one day!
1. Visit the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar
The Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is one of the oldest and largest basilicas in Spain and in the world. The basilica was the first thing I saw entering Zaragoza, I remember feeling jetlagged and incredibly sleepy at the time but the moment I saw it’s beautiful Baroque architecture overlooking the Ebro River I was in complete awe and was incredibly amazed by it. If you think it’s facade is great wait till you see its interior. The main altar of the basilica is grand and very intricate. You will also see the Holy Chapel of Our Lady, which in my opinion was the most beautiful chapel I have ever seen, it is made of marble and covered in bronze. There are also several other chapels within the basilica dedicated to different saints with beautiful artwork. Entrance to the basilica is free, however, keep in mind that there are certain rules to be followed within the basilica. You are not allowed to take pictures. Moreover, just like any other Catholic church, it is expected of you to dress appropriately, although from my experience they will not stop you from entering the basilica or call you out for wearing a sleeveless top or shorts, it is better to be respectful of the solemnity of the basilica.
2. Tour the Aljaferia Palace
At first glance, the Palacio de la Aljaferia may seem boring and dull, but its interior architecture and design is incredible. When you get to the center of the palace you will see a beautiful garden with orange trees aligned in perfect symmetry. Symmetry and intricacy were prevalent characteristics of Moorish architecture which was showcased in most of the rooms. Every inch of the palace is full of Aragon history. Although some rooms were not as well-maintained as the others, the government is trying their best to preserve as much of the old architecture as they can. The palace is now being used by the government for conferences and such.
3. Learn more about Zaragoza’s history at the Roman Theatre
By visiting the Museo del Teatro Romano de Caesaraugusta you will learn a lot about the history of Aragon. The museum is full of information about the history of this Roman Theatre. You might be thinking, what is so special about these ruins? Well, this Roman Theatre has a deep history. It does not only talk about the Roman origins of Zaragoza but also about the several other historical events that occurred on this very site after the Romans up until the 1970s. Every hour there is a film viewing that will tell you all about its history. There are three other ruins connected to the Roman Theatre. They can be found around Zaragoza, namely the Roman Forum, Fluvial Port, and Thermic Baths. When you buy your tickets, you can either choose to go to just one of the ruins or all of it, but visiting all of them will take a couple of hours.
4. Eat at a local favorite, El Fuelle
Don’t know where to eat for lunch? Try Restaurante El Fuelle. El Fuelle was suggested to us by the receptionist at Hotel Sauce. According to him, El Fuelle is one of the locals favorite restaurants, it was very evident as to why that was. El Fuelle had very good service and even greater food. A lot of families came to eat here and not too many tourists. They serve good authentic Spanish food, but the real prize was the steak. Oh, the steak. They cooked their steaks perfectly. Every time I think of Zaragoza all I can think about is the amazing steak that I had in El Fuelle. It can be quite pricey but, trust me the food here is worth every cent!
5. Looking for a quirky place to eat and drink? Try out Mercado Gastrinomico
Address: Calle Mártires, 3, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain
Mercado Gastrinomico is a great place to eat and drink! Yes, you can drink here, but don’t worry it’s still a family-friendly establishment, no need to worry about any children you may be traveling with. Mercado Gastrinomico is one of the most interesting food establishments I have ever been too. It is very lively and colorful here. Many groups of friends and families come here to eat. You will be given a list and a map of all the food stalls. My advice, try to look for a table as soon as possible as the place fills up fast and make sure that you’re hungry because there is so much food here! Their tapas are really good! I will never forget the large plate of paella that was supposedly a “half-serving” but fit in a big platter good for 2-3 people, there was also this tapas that we ordered that had some sort of meat, honey, cranberries and an entire block of goat cheese on top! The best part about this place is that the servings are so big and they aren’t so expensive, so you really get your money’s worth!
Zaragoza has so many more highlights, but since we are focusing on things that you could do in just one day I only chose these 5 that I highly recommend based on my own experiences that I know and am sure you can do all in one day. For information on the hotel that we stayed in, and which I also highly recommend here are the details:
Name: Hotel Sauce
Address: Calle Espoz y Mina, 33, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain
Phone: +34 976 20 50 50