In the 1st century BC, inhabitants of old Rome established the military colony of Caesaraugusta in honour of Emperor Caesar Augustus.
Surviving from that era are Zaragoza’s Roman theatre, thermal baths and the vestiges of the old Roman wall, which one can visit.
The city was conquered by the Visigoths, and later by the Muslims, who dubbed it “Saraqusta”. It became an important taifa (principality) and the Aljafería palace was built, today housing the regional parliament: las Cortes de Aragón.
In 1118 it was reconquered by Alfonso I the Battler, who made it the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. In the Parque Grande de Zaragoza stands a monument in his honour.
With the Inquisition and the times of the Catholic Monarchs there were uprisings, and the inquisitor Pedro Arbúes was murdered, with blame being laid on the society’s judeoconversos, Jewish converts to Christianity.
In 1746 the painter Francisco de Goya, considered one of the most important Spanish painters in history, was born in the Zaragoza town of Fuendetodos.
During the Spanish War of Independence against Napoleon, the city suffered two sieges and put up fierce resistance, featuring heroic feats such as those of Agustina de Aragón, with José de Palafox serving as Field Marshal of Zaragoza. From that era, the Puerta del Carmen city gate still stands today.
The Catedral-Basílica del Pilar, a Site of Cultural Interest and Historical Heritage, is the largest Baroque cathedral in Spain, built in honour of Our Lady of the Pillar, the patron saint of Spain, who, according to tradition, “visited Zaragoza in mortal flesh”.
Also of note is the Seo del Salvador, or Cathedral of the Saviour. In the mudejar style we find the churches of San Miguel de los Navarros and La Magdalena, among others. Noteworthy civil buildings include La Lonja, in the Aragonese Renaissance style; and the Central Market, built at the beginning of the 20th century.
Renowned Aragonese include, in addition to the aforementioned Goya, the philosopher and writer Baltasar Gracián, the filmmaker Luis Buñuel, and the musicians Enrique Bunbury and Eva Amaral.
In the El Tubo quarter one can enjoy a range of delicious tapas.
On October 12 the renowned Fiestas del Pilar are celebrated, featuring the spectacular offering of Flowers to the Virgin, a massive flower offering in the Plaza del Pilar, with people from all over the world taking part.
After the arrival of the AVE high-speed train in 2003, Expo 2008 was held, which, with water and sustainable development as its central themes, brought about a significant transformation of the city, giving rise to the Torre del Agua, or Water Tower; and the Pabellón Puente, or Bridge Pavilion.