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Flag of Zaragoza Coat of arms of Zaragoza
Flag Coat of Arms
Coordinates : 41°39′N, 0°54′W
Time zone : CET (GMT +1)
- summer : CEST (GMT +2)
General information
Native name Zaragoza (Spanish)
Spanish name Zaragoza
Founded 24 BC
Postal code 50001 - 50018
Country Spain
Autonomous Community Aragon
Province Zaragoza
Comarca Zaragoza
Administrative Divisions 13
Mayor Juan Alberto Belloch (PSOE)
Land Area 1062,64 km²
Altitude 199 m AMSL
Population 660,895 (2006)
- rank in Spain: 5
Density 601.14 hab./km² ()

Zaragoza, also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the autonomous community and former Kingdom of Aragon, Spain. It is situated on the river Ebro and its tributaries, the Huerva and Gállego, near the centre of the region, in a valley with a variety of landscapes, ranging from desert (Los Monegros) to thick forest, meadows and mountains.

According to 2007 data from the Zaragoza council [1], the population of the city of Zaragoza was 667,034, ranking fifth in Spain. The population of the metropolitan area was estimated in 2006 at 783,763 inhabitants. The municipality is home to more than 50% of the Aragon population. The city lies at an altitude of 199 metres above sea level, and constitutes a crossroads between Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and Toulouse (France) — all of which are located about 300 kilometres (200 miles) from Zaragoza.


[edit] History

[edit] Early history

The city used to have the name Salduba or Saldyva, a Punic name of a Carthaginian military post built on the remains of a Celtiberian village, when the Romans invaded the area it fell under colonia of Caesaraugusta, founded under Augustus in Hispania Citerior.

[edit] Arab Saraqusta

In 714 The Arabs took control of the city, naming it Saraqusta (سرقسطة). It later became part of the Emirate of Cordoba, It grew to become the biggest Arab city of Northern Spain. In 777 Charlemagne attempted to take the city but he was forced to withdraw when faced by the organized defense of the city and the Basque attacks in the rear (Chanson de Roland).

From 1018 to 1118 Zaragoza was one of the taifa kingdoms, independent Muslim states which emerged in the 11th century following the destruction of the Cordoban Caliphate. During the first three decades of this period, 10181038, the city was ruled by the Banu Tujib. In 1038 they were replaced by the Banu Hud, who had to deal with a complicated alliance with El Cid of Valencia and his Castillian Masters against the Almoravids who managed to bring the Taifas Emirates under their control. After the death of El Cid his kingdom was overrun by Almoravids and by 1100 Almoravids had managed to cross the Ebro into Barbastro, which brought Aragon into direct contact with Almoravids, The Banu Hud stubbornly resisted Almoravids and ruled until they were eventually defeated by the Almoravids in May 1110. The last sultan of the Banu Hud, Abd-al-Malik Imad ad-Dawla, the last king of Zaragoza, forced to abandon his capital, allied himself with the Christian Aragonese under Alfonso I el Batallador and from the time the Muslims of Zaragoza became military regulars within the Aragonese forces.

[edit] Aragonese era

In 1118 the Aragonese conquered the city from the Almoravids and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. At his death without heirs in 1137, Zaragoza was swiftly occupied by Alfonso VII of León-Castile, who vacated it in 1137 only on condition it be held by Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona as a fief of Castile.

Zaragoza was the scene of two controversial martyrdoms related with the Spanish Inquisition: those of Saint Dominguito del Val, a choirboy in the basilica, and Pedro de Arbués, head official of the inquisition.

It suffered two famous sieges during the Peninsular War against Napoleonic army: a first from June to August 1808; and a second from December 1808 to February 1809 (see Agustina de Aragón, Siege of Saragossa (1809)).

During the Spanish Civil War it was aimed to be taken by the Durruti Column, led by Buenaventura Durruti.

[edit] Modern history

[edit] Demographics

Population growth, in thousands, can be seen here:

Demographic evolution of Zaragoza between 1991 and 2006
1991 1996 2001 2004 2005 2006
594 394 601 674 610 976 638 799 647 373 660 895

[edit] Climate

Zaragoza climate chart (Airport)
Zaragoza climate chart (Airport)

Zaragoza has a mediterranean continental desert climate as it is surrounded by mountains. The average rainfall is a scanty 310 mm with abundant sunny days, and the rainfalls centers in spring. There is drought in summer. The temperatures are high in summer reaching up to 40°C (102°F).

In Winter the temperatures are low (usually 0 to 10 °C) either because of the fog (about 20 days from November to January) or a cold and dry wind blowing from the NW, the Cierzo (related to other northerly winds such as the Mistral in the SE of France) in the clear days, and in some days, other wind called [Tramuntana], which blind from the N, hit Zaragoza.

[edit] Economy

Expo Logo
Expo Logo

In addition to the advantageous geographic situation, a General Motors Opel factory was opened in 1982 in Figueruelas, a small village nearby. The progressive decline of the agrarian economy turned Opel into one of the main pillars of the regional economy, along with: Balay, which manufactures household appliances; CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles S.A.) which builds railway engines for both the national and international markets; SAICA and Torraspapel in the stationery sector; and various more local companies, such as Pikolin and Lacasa, that are gradually making their ways into the international market.

As of 2006, the city's economy is benefitting from projects like Expo 2008 (the next official World's Fair, with the theme of water and sustainable development, to be held between June 14 and September 13, 2008), [2], Plataforma Logística de Zaragoza (PLAZA), Parque Tecnológico de Reciclado (PTR), as well as being on the route of the AVE high-speed rail route since December 2003, which consolidates the city role as a communications hub.

Zaragoza is home to a Spanish Air Force base, which was (until September 1992) shared with the U.S. Air Force. In English, the base was known as Zaragoza Air Base. The Spanish Air Force maintained an F/A-18 Hornet wing at the base. No American flying wings (with the exception of a few KC-135's) were permanently based here, but it served as a training base for American fighter squadrons across Europe. It is the main headquarters for the Spanish Land Army, hosting the Academia General Militar, a number of brigades at San Gregorio, and other garrisons.

[edit] Culture

View of Zaragoza by Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo.
View of Zaragoza by Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo.

Zaragoza is linked by legend to the beginnings of Christianity in Spain. According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared miraculously to Saint James the Great in the 1st century, standing on a pillar. This legend is commemorated by a famous Catholic basilica called Nuestra Señora del Pilar ("Our Lady of the Pillar").

The event, called "Las Fiestas del Pilar", is celebrated on October 12, which is a major festival day in Zaragoza. Since it coincided in 1492 with the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, that day is also celebrated as El Día de la Hispanidad (Columbus Day, literally Hispanic Day) by Spanish-speaking people worldwide.

"El Pilar" lasts for nine days, with all kinds of acts: from the massively attended Pregon (opening speech) to the final fireworks display over the Ebro, there are bands, dances, procession of gigantes y cabezudos (carnival figures made of papier mache), concerts, exhibitions, the famous "vaquillas" bulls and the bull festival. Some of the most important features are the Ofrenda de Flores (Flower offering) to the virgin on the 12th, when an enormous cloak is made of the flowers

[edit] Education

The University of Zaragoza is headquartered in the city. As one of the oldest universities of Spain and a major research and development center, this public university awards all the highest academic degrees in dozens of fields.

[edit] Transportation

The city is connected by motorway with Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao and Toulouse — all of which are located about 300 kilometres (200 miles) from Zaragoza.

The Zaragoza Airport is a very small commercial airport used by a couple of airlines like Iberia Airlines or Ryanair, which operate routes across varied destinations like Frankfurt, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Paris and Toulouse. It also is the home of the Spanish Air Force 15th Group, as well as being utilized by NASA as a contingency landing site for the Space Shuttle in the case of a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL).

Zaragoza is also connected to the Spanish High Speed railway (Renfe's AVE), by the Madrid-Barcelona line. By using this means of transport, Madrid is reachable in 1 hour 15 minutes, and Barcelona in aproximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

[edit] Sport

Zaragoza's football team, Real Zaragoza, plays in the Primera división. 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 a Fairs Cup (1964).

Zaragoza's handball team, CAI BM Aragón, plays in the Liga ASOBAL. Their local basketball team, CAI Zaragoza, is now on the LEB league.

Zaragoza was strongly associated with Jaca in its failed bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics. It would have hosted the Opening and Closing ceremonies (at La Romareda stadium), as well as most of the ice events venues.

[edit] Places of interest

Near the basilica on the banks of the Ebro are located the city hall, the Lonja (old currency exchange), La Seo (literally in Aragonese language, "the cathedral") or Cathedral of San Salvador, a magnificent church built over the main mosque (partially preserved in the 11th century north wall of the Parroquieta), with romanesque apses from 12th century; inside, the imponent hallenkirche from 15-16th centuries ,the baroque tower, and, finally, with its famous Museum of Trapestries. Near, the Roman ruins of forum and port city wall.

Near this area is a tapas zone called El Tubo and a nightclub district called El Casco Viejo. Other nightclub districts are La Zona ,El Rollo and "el ambiente" (the scene) for gay people.

Outside View of the Aljafería
Outside View of the Aljafería

Some distance from the centre of the old city is an expansive Moorish castle or palace called the 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 are built in 14th century, but towers can be old minarets of 11th century; San Miguel of 14th century; Santiago (San Ildefonso) and Fecetas monastery are baroque with mudejar ceilings of 17th century. All churches are Mudéjar monuments of that comprise the World Heritage Site

Other important sights are the stately houses and magnificent palaces in the city, mainly of 16th century: palaces of condes de Morata or Luna (Audiencia), Deán, Torrero (colegio de Arquitectos), Don Lope or Real Maestranza, condes de Sástago, condes de Argillo (today Pablo Gargallo museum), archbishop, etc.

The most important Zaragoza museums are the Museum of Fine Arts, with paintings of early Aragonese artists, 15th century, and of El Greco, Ribera and Goya, and the Camon Aznar Museum, with paintings ranging from Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Velazquez and Goya to Renoir, Manet and Sorolla.

Zaragoza is linked by Renfe's AVE high-speed rail service to Madrid and to Barcelona (via Lérida), since 20th February 2008.

[edit] Sister cities

The following cities are twinned with Zaragoza:[3]

[edit] See also

[edit] Monuments

Carmen Gate
Carmen Gate

[edit] Notes

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Pre-Spanish Rulers of Zaragoza
Banu Tujibi
Al-Mundhir I ibn Yahya al-Tujibi - Yahya ibn al-Mundhir - Al-Mundhir II ibn Yahya ibn al-Mundhir - Abd Allah ibn al-Hakam al-Tjibi
Banu Hud
Al-Mustain I, Sulayman ibn Hud al-Judhami - Ahmad ibn Sulayman al-Muqtadir - Yusuf ibn Ahmad al-Mutamin - Al-Mustain II, Ahmad ibn Yusuf
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