A Walk in Zaragoza
Most people go to Zaragoza (well, we did . . ) for the factories; as well as being the capital of Aragon, the town has grown to become one of Spain’s biggest manufacturing hubs. On first glance, it might seem like any other Southern European city. But from the moment you disembark at Delicias railway station, a vast terminal covered with a spectacular geometric roof, it’s clear this isn’t just any old industrial metropolis.
Instead, Zaragoza is a wild mixture of centuries and styles. The skyline is dominated by the grand baroque basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, bombed three times during the Civil War (two of the unexploded mines are still on display); in the plaza outside, a Miesian monument to the city’s most famous son, Goya, faces the Fuenta de la Hispanidad, a roaring waterfall which spills into a giant pool shaped like South America. Just beyond, a trail of crumbling Roman walls leads uphill to the elobarate Art Nouveau market hall, and to the old Moorish palace of Aljafería - today home to the Aragonese parliament.
The city is also littered with plenty of spectacular modern structures, from Zaha Hadid’s undulating bridge (one of the remnants of the city’s 2008 Expo) to Carme Pinos’ CaixaForum - a building designed to feel like a city in itself, with sunken auditoriums and floating meeting spaces twisted round a dramatic open undercroft. Next door, the abandoned Seventies railway station at El Portillo looks like something out of a Wes Anderson movie. And even in Zaragoza’s narrow, twisting back streets, a vibrant tradition of graffiti art (from political statements to technicoloured tags to multistorey fine-art illustrations) surprises you at every turn.