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"Saragossa" redirects here. For other uses, see Saragossa (disambiguation).
This article is about the city in Spain. For other uses, see Zaragoza (disambiguation).
Ebro River

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 41°39′N 0°53′W / 41.650°N 0.883°W / 41.650; -0.883Coordinates: 41°39′N 0°53′W / 41.650°N 0.883°W / 41.650; -0.883

Country Spain
Autonomous community Aragón
Province Zaragoza
Comarca Zaragoza
Districts Actur, Casco Antinguo, Centro, Delicias, Universidad, San José, Las Fuentes, La Almozara, Oliver-Valdefierro, Torrero-La Paz, Margen Izquierda, Barrios Rurales Norte, Barrios Rurales Oeste, Valdespartera, Arcosur
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Body Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza
 • Mayor Juan Alberto Belloch (PSOE)
 • Total 1,062.64 km2 (410.29 sq mi)
Elevation 199 m (653 ft)
Population (1 January 2010)INE
 • Total 702,090
 • Density 660/km2 (1,700/sq mi)
Demonym zaragozano (m), zaragozana (f)
Time zone CET (GMT +1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (GMT +2) (UTC)
Postcode 50001 – 50019
Area code(s) 976
ISO 3166-2 ES-Z

Zaragoza (Spanish pronunciation: [θaɾaˈɣoθa]), also called Saragossa in English,[1] is the capital city of the Zaragoza province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It is situated on the Ebro river and its tributaries, the Huerva and the Gállego, near the centre of the region, in a valley with a variety of landscapes, ranging from desert (Los Monegros) to thick forest, meadows and mountains.

On 1 September 2010 the population of the city of Zaragoza was 701,090,[2] within its administrative limits on a land area of 1,062.64 square kilometres (410.29 square miles), ranking fifth in Spain. It is the 35th most populous municipality in the European Union. The population of the metropolitan area was estimated in 2006 at 783,763 inhabitants. The municipality is home to more than 50 percent of the Aragonese population. The city lies at an elevation of 199 metres (653 feet) above sea level.

Zaragoza hosted Expo 2008 in the summer of 2008, a world's fair on water and sustainable development. It was also candidate for the European Capital of Culture in 2016.

The city is famous for its folklore, a renowned local gastronomy, and landmarks such as the Basílica del Pilar, La Seo Cathedral and the Aljafería Palace. Together with La Seo and the Aljafería, several other buildings form part of the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Fiestas del Pilar are among the most celebrated festivals in Spain.


Roman Caesaraugusta

The Sedetani, a tribe of ancient Iberians, populated a village called Salduie, Salduba in Roman sources. Later on, Augustus founded there a city called Caesaraugusta to settle army veterans from the Cantabrian wars. The foundation date of Caesaraugusta has not been set with total precision, though it is known to lie between 25 BC and 12 BC. The city did not suffer any decline during the last centuries of the Roman empire and was captured peacefully by the Goths in the 5th century.

Moorish Saraqusta

In 714 the Berbers and Arabs took control of the city, renaming it Saraqusta (سرقسطة), a corruption of the original Roman name. It later became part of the Emirate of Cordoba. It grew to become the biggest Muslim controlled city of Northern Spain and as the main city of the Emirate's Upper March, Zaragoza was a hotbed of political intrigue. In 777 Charlemagne was invited by Husayn, the Wali (governor) of Zaragoza, to take the submission of the city but having marched an army to the city gates he found Husayn to have had a change of heart and was forced to give up after a month-long siege of the city, facing Basque attacks on his rear guard on his withdrawal. Four years later Emir Abd ar-Rahman I sent an army to reestablish firm control over the city. Husayn's family rebelled again in 788, and the head of the Banu Qasi was killed trying to put down the insurrection. Subsequent rebellions were launched there by Matruh al-Arabi (789), Bahlul Ibn Marzuq (798) and Amrus ibn Yusuf (802), who reached an accord with the Emir and retained control of the city. In 852, control of the city was awarded to Musa ibn Musa of the Banu Qasi, but following a defeat at Christian hands in 861 he was deprived of the city by the Emir, only for it to be retaken by his son Isma'il a decade later. Muhammad ibn Lubb ibn Qasi rebelled against the Emir in 884, and according to chronicler Ibn Hayyan he sold Zaragoza to Raymond of Pallars, but it was immediately retaken by the Emir and in 886 was given to the Banu Tujibi. In spite of a 17-year siege by the Banu Qasi, the Banu Tujibi continued to hold the city, growing in power and autonomy, until in 1018 they broke from Cordoban control and founded an independent Taifa state.

Taifa of Zaragoza

Main article: Taifa of Zaragoza

From 1018 to 1118 Zaragoza was one of the taifa kingdoms, independent Muslim states which emerged in the eleventh century following the destruction of the Cordoban Caliphate. During the first three decades of this period, 1018–1038, the city was ruled by the Banu Tujibi. In 1038 they were replaced by the Banu Hud, who had to deal with a complicated alliance with El Cid of Valencia and his Castilian masters against the Almoravids, who managed to bring the Taifas Emirates under their control. After the death of El Cid his kingdom was overrun by the Almoravids, who, by 1100, had managed to cross the Ebro into Barbastro, which brought Aragon into direct contact with them. The Banu Hud stubbornly resisted the Almoravids and ruled until they were eventually defeated by them in May 1110.

The last sultan of the Banu Hud, Abd-al-Malik Imad ad-Dawla, the last king of Zaragoza, forced to abandon his capital, allied himself with the Christian Aragonese under Alfonso the Battler and from that time the Muslims of Zaragoza became military regulars within the Aragonese forces.

Aragonese era

In 1118 the Aragonese conquered the city from the Almoravids and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. After Alfonso's death without heirs in 1134, Zaragoza was swiftly occupied by Alfonso VII of León and Castile, who vacated it in 1137 only on condition it be held by Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona as a fief of Castile.

Zaragoza was the scene of two controversial martyrdoms related with the Spanish Inquisition: those of Saint Dominguito del Val, a choirboy in the basilica, and Pedro de Arbués, head official of the inquisition. While the reality of the existence of Saint Dominguito del Val is questioned, his "murder" at the hands of "jealous Jews" was used as an excuse to murder or convert the Jewish population of Zaragoza.[3]

Zaragoza suffered two famous sieges during the Peninsular War against the Napoleonic army: a first from June to August 1808; and a second from December 1808 to February 1809 (see Agustina de Aragón, Siege of Saragossa (1809)), surrendering only after some 50,000 defenders had died.[4]

Modern history

Despite a decline in the outlying rural economy, Zaragoza has continued to grow. During the second half of the 20th century, its population boomed as a number of factories opened in the region. In 1979 the Hotel Corona de Aragón fire killed at least 80. The armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization ETA from northern Spain has been blamed, but officially the fire is still regarded as accidental. ETA carried out the 1987 Zaragoza Barracks bombing in the city which killed eleven people, including a number of children, leading to 250,000 people taking part in demonstrations in the city.


Population, in thousands, can be seen here: ImageSize = width:650 height:300 PlotArea = width:450 height:230 left:180 bottom:35 AlignBars = late

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Historical population of Zaragoza
Year 1991199620012004200520062008
Population 594 394601 674610 976638 799647 373660 895682 283
  • Historical Series of population: National Statistics Institute of Spain (INE)
  • Dates 2006 City council of Zaragoza.


Zaragoza has a semi-arid/desertic climate (Köppen climate classification BSk),[5] as it lies in a wide basin entirely surrounded by mountains, but shows characteristics of a Continental Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) such as drier summers and winters, and wetter springs and autumns. The average precipitation is a scanty 310 millimetres (12 inches) with abundant sunny days, and the rainfall centers in spring. There is drought in summer. The temperatures are high in summer reaching up to 40 °C (104 °F).

In winter the temperatures are low (usually -4°C to 10 °C) either because of the fog (about 20 days from November to January) or a cold and dry wind blowing from the NW, the Cierzo (related to other northerly winds such as the Mistral in the SE of France) on clear days. Frost is common and there is sporadic snowfall. You must be aware because cierzo makes thermal sensation much worse, reaching thermal sensations as low as -15°C on cold spells.

Climate data for Zaragoza
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 6.4
Average low °C (°F) 2.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 22
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 4 4 4 5 6 4 3 2 3 5 5 5 50
Mean monthly sunshine hours 133 165 210 221 263 295 337 311 231 192 148 116 2,614
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología[6]


In addition to the advantageous geographic situation, an Opel factory was opened in 1982 in Figueruelas, a small village nearby. The progressive decline of the agrarian economy turned Opel into one of the main pillars of the regional economy, along with Balay, which manufactures household appliances; CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A.), which builds railway engines for both the national and international markets; SAICA and Torraspapel in the stationery sector; and various other local companies, such as Pikolin, Lacasa, and Imaginarium SA.

The city's economy benefited from projects like the Expo 2008, the official World's Fair, whose theme was water and sustainable development, held between 14 June and 14 September 2008, Plataforma Logística de Zaragoza (PLAZA), and the Parque Tecnológico de Reciclado (PTR). Furthermore, since December 2003, it has been a city through which the AVE high-speed rail travels, which consolidates its role as a communications hub. Currently, Zaragoza Airport is a major cargo hub in the Iberian Peninsula, behind only Madrid, Barcelona, and Lisbon.

Zaragoza is home to a Spanish Air Force base, which was shared with the U.S. Air Force until 1994.[7] In English, the base was known as Zaragoza Air Base. The Spanish Air Force maintained an F/A-18 Hornet wing at the base. No American flying wings (with the exception of a few KC-135's) were permanently based there, but it served as a training base for American fighter squadrons across Europe. It is also the main headquarters for the Spanish Land Army, hosting the Academia General Militar, a number of brigades at San Gregorio, and other garrisons.


Zaragoza is linked by legend to the beginnings of Christianity in Spain. According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared miraculously to Saint James the Great in the first century, standing on a pillar. This legend is commemorated by a famous Catholic basilica called Nuestra Señora del Pilar ("Our Lady of the Pillar").

The event, called "Las Fiestas del Pilar", is celebrated on October 12, which is a major festival day in Zaragoza. Since it coincided in 1492 with the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, that day is also celebrated as El Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus Day, literally Hispanic Day) by Spanish-speaking people worldwide.

"El Pilar" lasts for nine days, with all kinds of activities: from the massively attended Pregon (opening speech) to the final fireworks display over the Ebro, there are bands, dances, procession of gigantes y cabezudos (carnival figures made of papier mache), concerts, exhibitions, the famous "vaquillas" bulls and the bull festival. Some of the most important features are the Ofrenda de Flores (flower offering) to the virgin on the 12th, when an enormous cloak is made of the flowers.


Education in Aragon starts when children are 6 years old at Primary School. From 11 to 16 pupils have to go to Secondary School (E.S.O or "Educacion Secundaria Obligatoria). These two periods are compulsory for all students. After that, those who wish to continue their studies can take "Bachillerato". This is the last stage before going to the university. "Bachillerato" lasts two years in which you can choose subjects to prepare for the course of your choice at University. There are four options to take: sciences (chemistry, biology,...), technology (physics, technical design), social sciencies (economy and maths) or Greek and Latin and arts (music, drawing, dance...)

When students finish "Bachillerato", they have to do global exams in order to get a good mark to enter university. This set of exams is called P.A.U. ("Prueba de acceso a la universidad").

The University of Zaragoza is based in the city. As one of the oldest universities in Spain and a major research and development centre, this public university awards all the highest academic degrees in dozens of fields. Zaragoza is also home to the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program, a unique partnership between MIT, the Government of Aragon and the University of Zaragoza.

There is also a private university, Universidad San Jorge, which is located in Villanueva de Gállego, 14 kilometres (9 miles) to the north.


The city is connected by motorway with the main cities in central and northern Spain, including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Bilbao, all of which are located about 300 kilometres (200 miles) from Zaragoza.

The city has a network of buses which is controlled by the Urban Transport Company of Zaragoza (TUZSA). The network consists of 31 regular lines (two of them circle lines), two scheduled routes, six shuttle buses (one free), and seven night buses operating on Fridays and Saturdays.[9] Zarazoga also has an interurban bus network operated by Transport Consortium Zaragoza Area (CTAZ) that operates 17 regular lines.[10]

Zarazoga's bicycle lanes facilitate non-motorized travel and help cyclists to avoid running into pedestrians and motor vehicles. The city council also has a public bicycle-hire scheme; for a small annual charge, people can collect a bicycle from one hire point and ride it to another part of the city, leaving the bicycle at a different hire point.

The first line of the Zaragoza tram (Valdespartera-Parque Goya) is fully operational along the first phase from Valdespartera to Plaza Paraíso. Construction of the second phase (Plaza Paraíso-Parque Goya) began on July 19, 2011, and the works are scheduled to be finished in 18 months, followed by a three-month trial period.

Zaragoza is a part of the Spanish high speed railway operated by RENFE, AVE, which connects Madrid and Barcelona via high-speed rail. Madrid can be reached in 75 minutes, and Barcelona in approximately 90 minutes. The central station is "Intermodal Zaragoza Delicias Station", which serves both railway lines and coaches. In addition to long-distance railway lines and the high-speed trains, Zaragoza has a network of commuter trains operated by RENFE called cercanías.

Zaragoza Airport is a small commercial airport and the home of the Spanish Air Force's 15th Group. It is also used by NASA as a contingency landing site for the Space Shuttle in the case of a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL).


Zaragoza's football team, Real Zaragoza, plays in the Segunda División. One of the most remarkable events in the team's recent history is the winning of the former UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1995. The team has also won the Spanish National Cup "Copa del Rey" six times: 1965, 1966, 1986, 1994, 2001 and 2004 and an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (1964).

Zaragoza's handball team, BM Aragón, plays in the Liga ASOBAL.

Their local basketball team, Basket Zaragoza 2002, is now on the Liga ACB. They play at the Príncipe Felipe with a capacity of 11,000 and their head coach is José Luis Abós and Basket Zaragoza plays in the Liga Femenina de Baloncesto.

Zaragoza was strongly associated with Jaca in its failed bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

A permanent feature built for Expo 2008 is the pump-powered artificial whitewater course "El Canal de Aguas Bravas."

Zaragoza has a lot of facilities to practice sports, you can swim, play soccer, basketball, tennis, etc. for a low price. You can also enjoy other outside sports such as cycling because there a lot of bicycle routes by the river.

Main sights

Near the basilica on the banks of the Ebro are located the city hall, the Lonja (old currency exchange), La Seo (literally "the See" in the Aragonese language) or Cathedral of San Salvador, a magnificent church built over the main mosque (partially preserved in the 11th-century north wall of the Parroquieta), with Romanesque apses from 12th century; inside, the imposing hallenkirche from the 15th to 16th centuries, the Baroque tower, and finally, with its famous Museum of Tapestries near the Roman ruins of forum and port city wall.

Some distance from the centre of the old city is the Moorish castle (or palace) Aljafería, the most important Moorish buildings in northern Spain and the setting for Giuseppe Verdi's opera Il trovatore (The Troubadour). The Aragonese parliament currently sits in the building.

The churches of San Pablo, Santa María Magdalena and San Gil Abad were built in 14th century, but the towers may be old minarets dating from the 11th century; San Miguel (14th century); Santiago (San Ildefonso) and the Fecetas monastery are Baroque with Mudéjar ceilings of the 17th century. All the churches are Mudéjar monuments that comprise a World Heritage Site.

Other important sights are the stately houses and magnificent palaces in the city, mainly of the 16th century: palaces of the count of Morata or Luna (Audiencia), Deán, Torrero (colegio de Arquitectos), Don Lope or Real Maestranza, count of Sástago, count of Argillo (today the Pablo Gargallo museum), archbishop, etc.

On 14 June 2008, the site of Expo 2008 opened its doors to the public. The exhibition ran until 14 September.

Other sights

  • Puente de Piedra
  • San Ildefonso church
  • Santa Engracia Monastery
  • San Nicolás de Bari church
  • Palacio de Larrinaga
  • Santo Tomás de Aquino church
  • San Agustín Convent
  • Church of Santa Isabel de Portugal
  • Casa Solans
  • Palacio de los Luna
  • Arch of Deán
  • Arguillo Palace
  • Casino mercantil
  • Bullring
  • The Giants of Zaragoza
  • Jose Antonio Labordeta Park
  • San José Bajo Arena
  • Casa Rivero Lahoz
  • "Quique" Stadium (Home of El Salvador Football Club)
  • Sanctuary of Mercy Church – Borja (restored Jesus Fresco)


Museums [11] in Zaragoza are:

  • Museum of Fine Arts Zaragoza, with paintings by early Aragonese artists, 15th century, and by El Greco, Ribera and Goya, and the Camón Aznar Museum, with paintings ranging from Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Velazquez and Goya to Renoir, Manet and Sorolla.[12]
  • Centro de Historia (Zaragoza), Pza San Agustín nº2, (Barrio de la Magdalena)
  • Museo Diocesano de Zaragoza – MUDIZ.Palacio Arzobispal. Pª Echegaray y Caballero 102
  • Museo Pablo Gargallo, Pza. San Felipe
  • Museo Pilarista
  • Museo de Tapices de La Seo (Catedral del Salvador)
  • Museo de Zaragoza, Pza. de los Sitios 6
  • Museo Pablo Serrano, Pº María Agustín 20
  • Museo Camón Aznar, C/ Espoz y Mina 23
  • Museo Paleontológico de Zaragoza, C/ Pedro Cerbuna 12
  • Museo Etnográfico de Zaragoza
  • Museo de Cerámica de Zaragoza
  • Museo del Teatro de Caesaraugusta, Calle de San Jorge 12
  • Museo del Foro, Plaza de la Seo 2
  • Museo de las Termas Públicas de Caesaraugusta, Calle de San Juan y San Pedro, 3–7
  • Museo del Puerto Fluvial de Caesaraugusta, Plaza de San Bruno, 8
  • Museo Pablo Serrano
  • Acuario Fluvial de Zaragoza

Twin towns and sister cities

Zaragoza is twinned with:[13]

See also



External links

  • Council of Zaragoza
  • Saragossa Global (English)
  • Saragossa Brand (English)
  • Zaragoza panorama
  • Zaragoza Tourism Board Official Website
  • Overview of the City
  • Complete guide to Zaragoza
  • Interactive Tourist Maps and audio guide about the city of Zaragoza in Spanish, English, French, German and Chinese languages
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