View of Zaragoza and the Ebro
|Districts||Centro, Casco Histórico, Delicias, Universidad, San José, Las Fuentes, La Almozara, Oliver-Valdefierro, Torrero-La Paz, Actur-Rey Fernando, El Rabal, Casablanca, Santa Isabel, Miralbueno, Sur, Distrito Rural|
|• Body||Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza|
|• Mayor||Jorge Azcón (People's Party)|
|• Total||973.78 km2 (375.98 sq mi)|
|Elevation||243 m (797 ft)|
|• Density||700/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|Demonym(s)||zaragozano (m), zaragozana (f)|
|Time zone||CET (GMT +1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (GMT +2)|
Zaragoza,[a] also known in English as Saragossa,[b] is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It lies by the Ebro river and its tributaries, the Huerva and the Gállego, roughly in the center of both Aragon and the Ebro basin.
On 1 January 2019 the population of the municipality of Zaragoza was 706,904, (the fifth most populated in Spain) on a land area of 973.78 square kilometres (375.98 square miles). 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 about 208 metres (682 feet) above sea level.
The city is famous for its folklore, local cuisine, 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.
The Iberian town that preceded Roman colonisation was called Salduie or Salduba. The Romans called the ancient city Caesaraugusta, from which derive the Arabic name سرقسطة Saraqusṭa (used during the Al-Andalus period), the medieval Çaragoça, and the modern Zaragoza.
The Sedetani, a tribe of ancient Iberians, populated a village called Salduie (Salduba in Roman sources). Later on, Augustus founded a city called Caesaraugusta at the same location to settle army veterans from the Cantabrian wars. The foundation date of Caesaraugusta has not been set with exact precision, though it is known to lie between 25 BC and 11 BC.
In 1018, amid the collapse of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Zaragoza became an independent taifa kingdom controlled by the Tujibid family. Ruled by the Banu Hud since 1039, the taifa greatly prospered in a cultural and political sense in the late 11th century, governed by Ahmad al-Muqtadir, Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud and Al-Musta'in II. It fell to the Almoravids in 1110.
On 18 December 1118, Alfonso I of Aragon 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. The city control was held by García Ramírez, king of Navarra, until 1136 when it was given to Ramiro II the Monk in the treaty signed at the betrothal of Ramiro's daughter Petronila and Alfonso's son Sancho. The wedding never happened, as Petronila ended up marrying Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona. The marriage union was the origin of the Crown of Aragón, and union with Castile would not happen for another 333 years, when King Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife, Queen Isabella I of Castile, each took their respective thrones.
13th century Zaragoza was the scene of two controversial martyrdoms related with the Spanish Inquisition:[clarification needed] 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 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.
Early Modern history
In the context of the 1701–1714 War of Spanish Succession, the city rose in arms in favour of the Archduke Charles, who was proclaimed "King of Aragon" in the city on 29 June 1706, following the uprising of other parts of the Kingdom of Aragon in December 1705. Charles entered the city in July 1706, directing the attack on those places of Aragon that had sided with the Bourbon faction such as Borja or the Cinco Villas. Following the April 1707 battle at Almansa, the tide turned with the Austracist forces fleeing in disarray, and the Bourbon forces commanded by the Duke of Orléans entering the city on 26 May 1707. As he seized control of the kingdom, he began to enact the series of institutional reforms known as the Nueva Planta, abolishing the Aragonese institutions in favour of the Castilian ones. The war turned around again in 1710 after the Battle of Almenar, and, following another Bourbon defeat near Zaragoza on 20 August 1710, Archduke Charles returned to the city on the next day. This was for only a brief period, though, as following the entry of Philip V in Madrid and the ensuing Battle of Villaviciosa in December 1710, the Habsburg armies fled from Zaragoza in haste in December 1710 and Philip V proceeded to consolidate his rule over the kingdom of Aragon, resuming administrative reforms after a period of institutional void.
An important food riot caused by the high price of bread and other necessity goods took place in the city in April 1766, the so-called motín de los broqueleros, named after the repressive agents, volunteer farmers and craftsmen who wielded swords and bucklers (broqueles). The repression left about 300 wounded, 200 detainees and 8 deaths and it was followed by 17 public executions, and an indeterminate number of killings at the dungeons of the Aljafería.
Late Modern history
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, surrendering only after some 50,000 defenders had died.
Railway transport arrived to Zaragoza on 16 September 1861 via the inauguration of the Barcelona–Zaragoza line with the arrival of a train from the former city to the Estación del Norte. The opening of the Madrid–Zaragoza line took place a year and a half later, on 16 May 1863.
The July 1936 coup d'état (with Gral. Miguel Cabanellas, Col. Monasterio, Urrutia, Sueiro, Major Cebollero and Gral. Gregorio de Benito at the centre of the Mola-led conspiration in Zaragoza) triumphed in the city. The military uprising in Africa on 17 July was followed in the early morning of 19 July by the military command, easily attaining their objectives in Zaragoza, despite the latter's status as stronghold of mobilised labour (most of them CNT anarcho-syndicalists but also UGT trade unionists), as the civil governor critically refused to give weapons to the people in time. Many refugees, including members of the provincial committees of parties and unions, would flee to Caspe, the capital of the territory of Aragon, which was still controlled by the Republic.
The rearguard violence committed by the putschists, with already at least 12 murders on 19 July, would only go in crescendo along the beginning of the conflict. Thus one of the two big cities under Rebel control since the early stages of the Spanish Civil War along Seville, Zaragoza profited from an increasing industrial production vis-à-vis the war economy, playing a key role for the Francoist faction as ammunition manufacturer.
Following the declaration of Zaragoza as Polo de Desarrollo Industrial ("Pole for Industrial Development") by the regime in 1964, the city doubled in population in a short time. The increase in population ran parallel to the rural flight and depopulation in the rest of Aragon.
In 1979, the Hotel Corona de Aragón fire killed at least 80. The armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization ETA has been blamed, but officially the fire is still regarded as accidental. ETA carried out the Zaragoza barracks bombing in 1987 which killed eleven people, including a number of children, leading to 250,000 people taking part in demonstrations in the city.
Since 1982, the city has been home to a large factory built by General Motors for the production of Opel cars, some of which are exported to the United Kingdom and sold under the Vauxhall brand. The city took advantage of the entry of Spain into the European Communities (later European Union).
Zaragoza lies in the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula, in the rather arid depression formed by the valley of the Ebro. The Ebro cuts across the city in a west north-west by east south-east direction, entering the municipality at 205 metres above sea level and exiting the municipality at a level of 180 metres above sea level.
The city enjoys a beneficial location at the geographical centre of the rough hexagon formed by the Spanish cities of Bilbao, Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona and the French cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse.
While the river banks are largely flat, the territory flanking them can display a rugged terrain, featuring muelas and escarpments. The surrounding elevations rise up to heights of about 600–750 metres above sea level. The locations near the meanders of the Ebro feature some sinkholes formed upon the subsidence of the gypsum-rich soil, that can form ponds fed from irrigation water. There is also an instance of seasonal endorheic lagoon, la Sulfúrica, in the moors located in the southern part of the municipality.
The Roman core of Caesaraugusta was founded on the right bank of the Ebro, with the north-east corner limiting the confluence of the Ebro with the Huerva river, a modest right-bank tributary of the Ebro. The Huerva runs through the city buried for much of its lower course. Zaragoza is also located near the confluence of the Ebro with the Gállego, a more voluminous left-bank tributary born in the Pyrenees.
Zaragoza has a semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk), as it lies in a wide basin entirely surrounded by mountains which block off moist air from the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The average annual precipitation is a scanty 322 millimetres (12.7 in) with abundant sunny days, and the rainiest seasons are spring (April–May) and autumn (September–November), with a relative drought in summer (July–August) and winter (December–March).
Temperatures are hot in summer reaching up to 44.5 °C (112.1 °F), and in winter are cool, either because of the fog (about twenty days from November to January) or a cold and dry wind blowing from the northwest, the Cierzo (related to other northerly winds such as the Mistral in the SE of France) on clear days. Night frost is common and there is sporadic snowfall.
|Climate data for Zaragoza Airport, altitude 263m (averages for 1981-2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||20.6
|Average high °C (°F)||10.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.6
|Average low °C (°F)||2.7
|Record low °C (°F)||−10.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||21.0
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||4.0||3.9||3.7||5.7||6.4||4.0||2.6||2.3||3.2||5.4||5.1||4.8||51.1|
|Average snowy days||0.7||0.4||0.2||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.1||0.5||2.4|
|Average relative humidity (%)||75||67||59||57||54||49||47||51||57||67||73||76||61|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||131||165||217||226||274||307||348||315||243||195||148||124||2,693|
|Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología|
Zaragoza is administratively divided into 15 urban districts and 14 rural neighborhoods:
The population, in thousands, can be seen here:
According to a survey carried out by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS) in 2019 with a sample size of 300, 51.0% of the surveyed people described themselves as non-practising Catholic, 24.0% as practising Catholic, 6.7% as indifferent/non-believer, 5.0% as agnostic, 4.3% as atheist and 2.3% as "other religions", while a 6.7% did not answer.
In 2017 there were 64,003 foreign citizens in Zaragoza, which represent 9.6% of the total population. From 2010 to 2017 immigration dropped from 87,735 to 64,003 people, a 27% drop. Romanians represent 29.8% of foreigners living in Zaragoza, or 2.9% of the total city population, followed by Moroccans (9.1%) and Chinese (7%).
|Foreign Nationals in Zaragoza in 2017|
An Opel factory was opened in 1982 in Figueruelas, a small village nearby. The automotive industry is a main pillar of the regional economy along with Balay, which manufactures household appliances; CAF, which builds railway rolling stock 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. 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. In English, the base was known as Zaragoza Air Base. The Spanish Air Force maintained a McDonnell Douglas 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 also hosts the main Spanish Army academy, Academia General Militar, a number of brigades at San Gregorio, and other garrisons.
Christianity took root in Zaragoza at an early date. According to legend, St. Mary appeared miraculously to Saint James the Great in Zaragoza in the first century, standing on a pillar. This apparition is commemorated by a famous Catholic basilica called Nuestra Señora del Pilar ("Our Lady of the Pillar").
The Aragonese language, in decline for centuries and restricted mostly to northern Aragon, has recently attracted more people in the region. Thus, nowadays, in Zaragoza, up to 7,000 people speak Aragonese.
The annual Fiestas del Pilar last for nine days, with its main day on 12 October. Since this date coincided in 1492 with the first sighting by Christopher Columbus of the Americas, that day is also celebrated as El Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus Day) by Spanish-speaking people worldwide.
There are many activities during the festival, from the massively attended Pregon (opening speech) to the final fireworks display over the Ebro; they also include marching bands, dances such as "Jota aragonesa" (the most popular dance of folklore music genre), a procession of gigantes y cabezudos, concerts, exhibitions, vaquillas, bullfights, fairground amusements, and fireworks. Some of the most important events are the Ofrenda de Flores, or Flower Offering to St. Mary of the Pillar, on 12 October, when an enormous surface resembling a cloak for St. Mary is covered with flowers, and the Ofrenda de Frutos on 13 October, when all the autonomous communities of Spain offer their typical regional dishes to St. Mary and donate them to soup kitchens.
Holy Week in Zaragoza, although not as elaborate an affair as its Andalusian or Bajo Aragón counterparts, has several processions passing through the city centre every day with dramatic sculptures, black-dressed praying women and hundreds of hooded people playing drums. It has been a Festival of International Tourist Interest since 2014.
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 a French international primary and secondary school, Lycée Français Molière de Saragosse.
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 Buses of Zaragoza (AUZSA). 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, Saturdays and other festivities. Zaragoza also has an interurban bus network operated by Transport Consortium Zaragoza Area (CTAZ) that operates 17 regular lines.
Zaragoza's bicycle lanes facilitate non-motorised travel and help cyclists to avoid running into pedestrians and motor vehicles. The city council also has a public bicycle-hire scheme; the 'bizi zaragoza' - which consists in the payment of an annual charge.
The first line of the Zaragoza tram (Valdespartera-Parque Goya) is fully operational.
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 located in the Garrapinillos neighbourhood, 10 kilometres from the city centre.
It is a major commercial airport, its freight traffic surpassing that of Barcelona El Prat in 2012, and serves as the home of the Spanish Air Force's 15th Group. It was also used by NASA as a contingency landing site for the Space Shuttle in the case of a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL).
Public transportation statistics
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit in Zaragoza, for example to and from work, on a weekday is 48 min. 9% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2 hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 11 min, while 12% of riders wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 4.2 km, while 5% travel for over 12 km in a single direction.
Zaragoza's main football team, Real Zaragoza, plays in the Segunda División. Founded on 18 March 1932, its home games are played at La Romareda, which seats 34,596 spectators. The club has spent the majority of its history in La Liga. 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). A government survey in 2007 found that 2.7% of the Spanish population support the club, making them the seventh-most supported in the country.
Zaragoza's second football team is CD Ebro. Founded in 1942, it plays in Segunda División B – Group 2, holding home games at Campo Municipal de Fútbol La Almozara, which has a capacity of 1,000 seats.
The main basketball team, Basket Zaragoza, known as Tecnyconta Zaragoza for sponsorship reasons, plays in the Liga ACB. They play their home games at the Pabellón Principe Felipe with a capacity of 10,744.
The Spanish Baja or Baja Aragon is a Rally raid event held in the region of Aragon in northern Spain. This event was launched in 1983, and chose the desert of Monegros because of the scenery and availability of service infrastructure in Zaragoza.
There are three Rugby Union teams playing in the regional league:
A permanent feature built for Expo 2008 is the pump-powered artificial whitewater course "El Canal de Aguas Bravas."
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 church built over the main mosque (partially preserved in the 11th-century north wall of the Parroquieta), with Romanesque apses from the 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 the 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 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.
Museums 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.
- Goya Museum Zaragoza
Twin towns and sister cities
Zaragoza has special bilateral collaboration agreements with:
- Avempace (1085–1138), polymath
- Sebastián Pozas (1876–1946), military officer
- Abraham Abulafia (1240–1291), founder of the school of "Prophetic Kabbalah"
- Amaral (band) (established 1992), popular musical band in Spain and America.
- Alonso Fernández de Heredia (died March 19, 1782), Captain General and governor of Honduras (1747), Florida (1751–1758), Yucatán (in modern-day Mexico; 1758–?), the Captaincy General of Guatemala (1761–1771) and Nicaragua (1761–1771).
- José Luis Gil (born 1957), actor
- Luis de Horruytiner (? – ?), governor of Spanish Florida (1633 – 1638), and viceroy of Sardinia
- Rafael Navarro (born 8 October 1940), photographer
- Dino Valls (born 1959), painter.
- Informational notes
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