Street art in Zaragoza is helping to revive forgotten neighbourhoods.
Here’s why you should schedule the extra stop when travelling the popular Spain train route and experience what it feels like to stumble upon a Spanish secret.
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All the Things to do in Zaragoza
La Despensa de Montal restaurant in Zaragoza.
Visit Ajafería Palace – UNESCO World Heritage Zaragoza
Zaragoza is synonymous with gastronomic, cultural expression. Much like art, people reinvent old recipes and add modern twists to traditional establishments and food customs. So where’s the best place to eat in Zaragoza?
El Salvador Cathedral was built upon the site and structure of the main mosque of the old Muslim city. Today, Mudejar design can be found on the outer wall of the parish chapel, and the Church of Mary Magdalen is Mudejar in style with a tower and intricately patterned tiles.
Still, there’s a lot of Roman Zaragoza on show. The Caesaraugusta Theatre Museum (Museo Del Teatro De Caesaraugusta) is one of the largest theatres of Roman Hispania that once held 6,000 spectators, and you can view ruins from a market at the Caesar Augustus Forum Museum. Even an 80-metre long section of the old Roman city walls stands crumbling in front of a modern apartment building.
Detailed artworks on tall apartment blocks in Zaragoza – part of the urban regeneration drive, of Festival Asalto
See More Mudejar Art in the City
Zaragoza’s oldest sweet shop, Fantoba which opened in Zaragoza in 1856.
Mudejar art on the Church of Mary Magdalen in Zaragoza.
The Alma del Ebro sculpture at Zaragoza Expo Zone
Climb the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar
Since its inception in 2005, the city has been filled with over 70 artworks using murals, graffiti, templates, posters and installations as the medium of expression by local artists and groups. You can embark on a self-guided walking tour to find them all using the handy online map (a printed version is also available).
Wander Plaza del Pilar – Spain’s Largest Square
Mixing old and new with artistic flair is very much a part of the food scene in Zaragoza. Here’s where you can sample the best of tradition.
Find Remnants of Roman Zaragoza
Part of the neverending indulgence of the Tapas Workshop at La Zarola.
I have a whole Spain by train AVE guide, with suggested routes and top tips for travelling around the country, but here are some quick fix tips for planning your rail adventure.
It provides one of the best-elevated views over the multi-domed dreamscape and a better perspective on the artistic Plaza del Pilar and its water features.
Take a Walking Tour of Zaragoza Street Art
The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar lines the Plaza del Pilar.
By 1118, Ajafería became a Christian Palace and the residence of Aragonese monarchs, who added extra layers and extensions to the existing design, as did the Catholic monarchs with the Throne Room in 1492.
Go to the Otherwordly Zaragoza Expo Zone
A typical side street in Zaragoza’s El Tubo district is filled with the best places to eat and drink.
Zaragoza’s restaurant and culinary establishments pride themselves on local produce. The love for tapas lines every corner and alley, such as the El Tubo district known for attracting the hungry crowds and Plaza de Santa Marta for café culture.
Visit the Goya Museum – The Artistic Son of Zaragoza
Beyond Ajafería Palace, you can still find Mudejar art details on historic structures around the city.
Eat Your Way Through Zaragoza
The modern Goya Museum in Zaragoza, creating a spotlight of his works.
Native to Aragon, Mudejar art blends Islamic and Christian elements from a time during the 12th and 17th centuries when both faiths coexisted. A core part of Zaragoza’s architectural heritage, the sheer amount of Mudejar art earned it a UNESCO World Heritage title, with the Ajafería Palace being the most symbolic.
Food Workshops in Zaragoza – The Art of Cuisine
My two favourite designs are the Alma del Ebro sculpture outside the Congress Palace, which was made especially for this International Exhibition by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa and the Bridge Pavilion designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.
- Attend a tapas workshop at the modern gastronomic space La Zarola, helping to cook up half a dozen dishes. It’s like being at the house of a friend.
- Enjoy a masterclass of Jamon carving by Félix Martínez, who owns the award-winning restaurant La Jamoneria. You’ll be taught how to carve Jamon while sampling perfected slivers of Jamon alongside a tapas and wine menu.
- Indulge in candied fruits and chocolates at the vintage 1856 confectionary shop, Fantoba. Its old wooden shelves stacked floor to ceiling with boxes, bottles and old trinkets takes you back to that time.
Things to Know About Travel to Zaragoza
- Tarragona to Zaragoza is a mere 1 hour and 30 minutes journey on the train, landing you right between Madrid and Barcelona. Zaragoza is 90 minutes from Madrid by train and just under two hours from Barcelona.
- If you are looking to visit many museums and monuments and make use of public transport, consider getting the Zaragoza Card. From €20 for 24 hours or €23 for 48 hours, you’ll have access to all major sites, buses and tram lines, and discounts for listed shops and restaurants.
How to Get to Zaragoza
Book a Renfe Train Ticket in Spain – AVE Guide
We were able to wander beyond the opulent centre of Zaragoza, where there is an interesting contrast in its abundance of street art. It’s all a part of an annual urban regeneration drive, Festival Asalto (the International Festival of Urban Art), bringing an artistic new life to forgotten neighbourhoods.
- You can book tickets via the Renfe website in English, and specific high-speed network tickets. All tickets have to be pre-booked (payable by Visa, Mastercard and Paypal), since you can’t turn up on the day and book at the station.
- The AVE trains have nine classes if you count the overnight trains with sleeper/bed options, but there are two main ones to consider – Turista (a second class option with 2 x 2 seating rows) and Turista Plus, which is a little more spacious (with 2 x 1 seating rows). I travelled to each destination with a Turista ticket – comfortable and great value for money.
- If you want to book a multi-stop trip, consider getting a ‘Spain Pass’, so you can travel using just one ticket for the AVE and other long-distance trains. You must reserve a seat before every trip, as limited space is assigned for Spain Pass holders.
The Art of Travel in Zaragoza, Spain – A Guide to World Heritage, Legacy and Urban Revival.