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Zaragoza is the 5th biggest city in Spain and the capital of the region of Aragon. It is located in northeast Spain, approximately midway between Madrid and Barcelona. Zaragoza city has been mostly untouched by modern tourism, although this may now change with the opening of a new fast rail link to Madrid. Zaragoza has some famous historic attractions, including a palace of Moorish origins and a few ancient churches. Plus there are also plenty of tapas bars, pavement cafes and good restaurants, while the 40,000 plus local students help to give it a lively feel.

The Romans originally founded Zaragoza about 2,000 years ago, and itgets its name from the emperor Augustus. Zaragoza was thenruled over by the Beni Hud kings in the 11th century. Despite hisreputation as a Spanish-Christian hero, the famous El Cid was in actual fact a mercenary who also fought for the Moslem Beni Huds during this era. Zaragoza is also famed for resisting the Napoleonic armies during the sieges of the 19th century.

Most of the Zaragoza attractions, like La Lonja, El Pilar and cathedral La Seo, are found around the beautiful Plaza del Pilar. Between this impressive square and the Ebro River is the massive Basilica del Pilar, which has one big central dome ringed by ten smaller ones, with 4 towers in each of the corners. It was constructed in honour of the Virgin of the Apostle who, according to local legend, supposedly appeared to St James on this very site in 40 AD. The interior of the basilica is noted for the carvings and frescoes, with the undoubted highlight being a collection of paintings by Goya in the central dome. Goya was born in 1746 just outside Zaragoza, in a small village. A few bombs fell on the church in the Civil War but most fortunately they did not explode.

The Gothic La Seo Cathedral was constucted on the original site of the local mosque and the museum has many fine treasures, like the oil paintings, fine tapestries and statues. A short drive from La Seo is the wonderful Renaissance exchange of La Lonja, built from millions of small bricks and the interior is noted for its stone adornments. The Aljaferia Palace, constructed during the early 11th century, is found just to the west of Zaragoza centre. Although it has been altered on many occasions over the centuries, this ancient Moorish palace still has the original mosque and central courtyard. The elaborate ceiling on the first floor has images of the monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.

There are some magnificent vistas of the city from the Puente de Piedra, that spans the Ebro River. Built in about1813, it contains segments of Basque, French and Italian design. Other local attractions in the city include the Puerta del Carmen, once part of the old city walls, and the Arabic Baths dating back to the late 13th century.
For more details and tourism information and accommodation in Zaragoza please visit Zaragoza in the region of Aragon, Spain.

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