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Zaragoza

Audioguide of Zaragoza

What to see in Zaragoza

It is terrible to be forced to kill so many brave people”. They are the words written by a French officer after the Siege of Zaragoza in the War of Independence. The man, who already knew a lot about battles and similar nonsense, claimed never to have seen anything like the resistance of that heroic city which immediately entered history and inspired songs, monuments and dozens of literary works.

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It is terrible to be forced to kill so many brave people”. They are the words written by a French officer after the Siege of Zaragoza in the War of Independence. The man, who already knew a lot about battles and similar nonsense, claimed never to have seen anything like the resistance of that heroic city which immediately entered history and inspired songs, monuments and dozens of literary works.

All that happened between 1808 and 1809, Zaragoza was left almost completely destroyed and covered with corpses. But it would rise again, as it corresponds to a two-thousand-year-old city which had been going through rough times since ancient times. So old that it is difficult to know the origins of the town.

A few centuries BC, there was an Iberian settlement in here, but, as always, the chronologies are far from clear until the Romans arrived and planted their flag. In this case, it was no less than the emperor Caesar Augustus himself, who founded a colony on that old Iberian settlement and occupied it with veterans of the legions who had been fighting for Spain. It seems that the divine ruler didn’t feel like overthinking about names and called it Caesaraugusta, and let the centuries do their work of linguistic erosion. What he really cared for, it was to control the Ebro Valley and make the most of this peninsula that gave slaves, minerals, wine and oil to Rome.

After the Roman Empire disappeared, you can imagine what happened: first, Swabian and Visigoths, and after Islam, advancing from the bottom of the map and occupying the city in 714. Zaragoza was in one of those huge border territories called “marks”, and it managed to maintain its importance despite Muslim domination. It would even become the Taifa of Saraqusta and live splendorous years between fortifications and palaces such as the ones the Arabs built like no others.

But the Christian armies were pushing their way in, and in 1118 Alfonso the Battler arrived to conquer the place. Given the new situation, many of the Muslim settlers packed their bags and left for al-Andalus, with the result of Zaragoza losing a bit of its demographic strength. However, by the fifteenth century, it had already recovered the twenty-thousand inhabitants of earlier times. From then on it kept growing and growing until it reached up to fifty-five thousand, just before the Napoleonic troops arrived. And after the French bombs, bayonets and typhus it was left with only twelve thousand.

 Today, you can take a long and peaceful walk through this noble city thinking that it took Napoleon a whole year to do it.


Zaragoza

Plaza César Augusto, 1 (Oficina de Turismo)
50001 Zaragoza
(+34) 976 20 12 00

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