Difference between revisions of "Zaragoza"
Revision as of 13:06, 17 March 2009
Zaragoza is a warm and inviting city strategically located between Madrid and Barcelona. The city welcomes visitors with its rich culture, shopping, eating and sightseeing. Its more than 2000 years of history makes the city one of the greatest historical and artistical legacies in Spain. It is situated in Aragon, one of the previous kingdoms of Spain.
You can get by frequent trains from both of Spain's major international airports in Barcelona and Madrid. Zaragoza is served by a high speed train line called AVE that reaches Madrid in approximately 1 hour 30 minutes (depending on the speediness of the train) and Barcelona in approx. 1 hour 45 minutes. There are up to 19 trains a day in each direction for Madrid and 12 for Barcelona. For more information on schedules and prices, visit the website of RENFE . You can get 60% discount if you book 15 days in advance. Regular rates start at about 50 EUR to Madrid and Barcelona.
A cheaper way to get to Zaragoza from Barcelona is using the "Regional Express" - a slow train going on an ancient track, stopping at every small village and some those post-industrial ghosttowns, and really astonishing landscapes. The ride takes 5 hours, costs 22 eur.
You can reach Zaragoza either from Madrid or Barcelona in 3:45 hours. The coach company is ALSA  and the single ticket costs around 13 euros. It is also well communicated with other main capital cities, such as Valencia and Bilbao. There is possibility of getting to Zaragoza from France by bus. The main lines travel from Lourdes, Tarbes, Pau and Oloron.
For bus schedules from Barcelona, also try Barcelona Nord .
Zaragoza Airport is located 10 km from the city centre. Recently in March 2008 the new terminal building was finished. Passengers can travel from the airport to the city centre via a local bus service, it costs around 1.70Eur. Buses coincide with airplane arrivals, and will take you to the city centre via the football ground and university. Alternatively a taxi will cost around 25-27Eur and take approx 20 mins.
Ryanair is one of the main carriers here, with journes from Brussels, Milan, London and Rome. There are also daily connection flights from Madrid and Barcelona, as well as charter journeys to the city.
Car rental facilities are available on the airport, train stations and other main travel sites. Always be sure to have a street map handy or a GPS!
Speedways are free in the journey from Madrid, which takes somethign round 3:30 hours. From Barcelona, however, highways are charged; the cost is around 30 euro.
When to Visit
Signs of the city’s founding, when the city was named after Emperor August, are still visible and can be enjoyed by tourists even today. 2,000 years later, the architectural remains of large public buildings indicate Caesar Augustus’ influence over the city. Today you can still admire the city’s Forum, Thermal Baths, the River Port or the Great Theatre, archeological remains which reflect the splendour of the city as it was during the Roman Empire.
Later on, during the Moslem occupation of Spain, Zaragoza was the capital of a kingdom in which art, music, and science formed the cornerstones of life in the Court. From this period, you can still see the Aljaferia Palace, a marvellous example of Moslem art, which has been witness to Zaragoza and its rich history – right up to the present day. From the early days of Christianity, Zaragoza still possesses a multitude of indicators that tell us something of the grandeur of the city: thanks to the Mudejar, the show of tolerance whereby different cultures were able to live side by side, and World Heritage, you can still enjoy beautiful enclaves such as the San Salvador Cathedral (the Seo) or the San Pablo church. From the period of Renaissance, there is a multitude of palatial houses which tell us of the sumptuousness of Saragossa in the 16th Century. Museums, such as the one dedicated to sculptor Pablo Gargallo, or exhibition halls, such as the monumental Lonja, are archetypal of Aragonese Renaissance art.
But Zaragoza is known worldwide as the home to the magnificent Pilar Basilica, heir to a tradition which is over 2,000 years old, and a destination for Christian pilgrims of all denominations.
It is probably best to buy a bus card in order to get around in Zaragoza. It costs seven euro (there is an initial card fee of two euros, so when charging it next time will just cost 5 euros) but is much cheaper than buying an ordinary ticket due to it is possible to take all the transportation lines in one hour; A simple ticket costs 0.85 euros. These cards can be bought at any tobacco store. The city is small enough that the bus system is very easy to learn and it provides a cheap way to get from point a to point b. Another plus to the buses is that most of them come at either 5 or 10 minute intervals.
If the bus is out of the question and your feet are much too tired to walk, there are always plenty of taxis waiting to take you where you want to go. You don't need to worry about the taxis charging more than they ought to. Zaragoza is known for very honest people. Still, it will cost quite a lot more than the trusty bus. Taxi cab operator phone numbers are advertised in many hotels, but it is best to come prepared with some Zaragoza Taxi phone numbers before you go.
Sightseeing bus is another option. They provide more than just a great way to travel around the city, available to all pockets. It costs 7 Euros (free if you have the Zaragoza card) and the ticket can be used the entire day.
It is strongly recommended to buy the Zaragoza Card, which provides, from 7.66 euros per day:
Go to the International Exhibition , that includes more than 3,400 acts from more than 350 companies and artists, and which lasts from June 14 to September 14 2008. The ticket price for an adult is 35 EUR for one day.
There are a few interesting shops where you can buy souvenirs.
Nevertheless, Zaragoza is not only a home to culture: it is also well known for its impressive cuisine, thanks to a long culinary tradition which fuses together traditional and modern tendencies. You can enjoy the results of this fusion at any of the large number of restaurants, cafés and bars to be found in the city, which has meant that “tapeo” (going for tapas) is now considered a must-do on the Zaragoza social calendar. You can get food from any part of the world as well, but make sure you try some specifically real Spanish food and from the region.
Probably one of the most famous meals in Spain, Zaragoza is well known because of its many tapas bars. The best place to eat some is the old city, commonly called "Casco viejo" which is a bunch of small streets similar to the Zoco.
One excellent choice is in Calle de los mártires which two are three different "Tapas Bar" in which you can only eat one tapa. In the first one the mushroom and close to it the Taberna de Doña Casta, the "Huevos rotos con foi" which is mainly smashed fried egg with fries and foi or jamón serrano. Plaza Santa Marta is located in the old city as well; it's a little bit more expensive but the quality deserves. Never forget asking for a "Tabla", which is mainly a wooden plate in which different tapas like cheese and sausages are served; The plus is that you get a free bottle of red wine.
The most famous dishes like in other places from Spain are the tapas, little appetizers that are often served at bars and small cafes before a main meal. Make sure to visit "El Casco Viejo" and its numerous places to have tapas.
Sea food tapas are not that common, but if you know where to go they can be very good and cheap. Casa de Mar, located in Eusebio Blasco Street, is a local favorite. Cheap crayfish, cuttlefish and a great cold white wine. A four person meal with two bottles of wine costs less than 12 euros each.
Cuisine of the Zone
Some of the best known regional specialities are: Bacalao al Ajoarriero, cod-fish with garlic and eggs, Huevos al Salmorejo, eggs with a sauce of asparagus, Longanizas y Chorizos, highly appreciated kinds of sausages, Ternasco Asado, roasted young lamb, Pollo al Chilindrón, chicken in a sauce of cured ham, tomatoes, onions and paprika, Cordero a la Pastora, lamb Shepherd's style, Lomo de Cerdo a la Zaragozana, cutlet, Migas a la Aragonesa, a dish made of crumbs scrambled with an egg and chorizo. People even eat rabbits stewed in rabbit blood. Meat is very popular. Also, bread is a basic element of meals.
Make sure you try borrajas, a vegetable which can only be found in Aragon. It is usually eaten with olive oil.
Melocotón con vino, peaches in wine, is also a good option, though sometimes it is hard to find a restaurant serving this dessert.
The excellent wines of the region, Somontano, Cariñena, Borja, Paniza, Lecera and Valle de Jalón, are a perfect company to the recipes mentioned above.
Zaragoza is well known as the city of Spain with the greatest number of bars and pubs per inhabitant.
Remember that Zaragoza is a popular tourist place and business city, so it is recommended to book in advance.
Zaragoza has hundreds of options for accommodations - from 4 star hotels, through apartments and hostel beds. You can end up paying anything from 15-200 euros per person, per night. All places are rather nice but of course quality is not for free.
Nice and not that expensive:
Following places are located in the Huesca province, not more than t20 hours by car and in the middle of the Pirenees. Charming places in the middle of the nature.