Saragossa is the capital of the Saragossa province of Spain. It is located on the Ebro River and the Huerva River and is also known by the name of Zaragoza. Saragossa covers an area of four hundred and ten square miles and has a population of six hundred and eighty thousand residents. The summers are usually plagued by drought and the average temperature is around forty degrees Celsius. The winters are usually very foggy with temperatures around two degrees Celsius. This city can trace its history back to its incarnation as a Carthaginian military installation when it was called Saldyva. After the Romans invaded the city it fell into the hands of the colonia of Caesaraugusta and was later taken by the Goths in the fifth century. During the eight century, the city was taken by the Arabs who in turn named it Saraqusta. Later on it would come under the control of the Emirate of Cordoba and grew to become the largest Arab ruled city in Norther Spain. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Saragossa was an independent Muslim state. In the twelfth century, the Aragonese took the city from the Almoravids and turned it into the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is a popular attraction in Saragossa. This basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and local tradition holds that it was the first church in history to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Suppossedly, this church was first erected at the dawn of Christianity and is attributed to St. James the greater. The current church was designed in the Baroque style and was built between the seventeenth and nineteenth century. After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, St. James visited Spain to spread the Gospel, but was disappointed because he felt his mission was a failure. In 40 AD, while he was praying, the Virgin Mary appeared to him and presented a small wooden statue of herself, as well as a jasper column, and told him to build a church in his honor. in 41 AD, St. James made arrangements to build the chapel in her honor. After the construction, St. James returned to Jerusalem and was promptly executed by King Herod around 44 AD. His followers brought his body back to Spain and buried him. This first chapel was eventually demolished, but the statue and pillar remained intact under the protection of the citizens of Saragossa. The present church was begun under order of the Spanish king Charles II. The church is three hundred and ninety feet long and sixty-seven feet wide.
Another prominent attraction in Saragossa is La Seo Cathedral. La Seo Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cahedral that is situated on the Plaza de la Seo. The site of this church can trace its history back to a Roman forum that was located there. The forum was not only the commercial and municipal center of Saragossa, but also contained a temple. In the eighth century, Hanas ben Abdallah as San’ani erected the mosque of Saraqusta al Baida on the site. This mosque was demolished by Alfonso I and the site prepared for use as a Christian church in the twelfth century. The church had a basilical floor plan that consist of three naves and a transept. The church also has a reflectory, two cloisters, a nursery and an archive. Construction on this cathedral continued through the thirteenth century. From the thirteenth century through the sixteenth century, Argonese Kings were crowned in this church. Royal weddings, burials and baptisms also took place in the church. In the fifteenth century, the dome of the cathedral collapsed. Benedict XIII ordered a reconstruction of the church. The apses were eleveted, two towers were added and a new dome was constructed. Today, the cathedral contains many chapels. These include Our Lady of the Snows, San Valero, Saint Helen, Chapel of the archangels Michael Gabriel and Raphael, Santo Dominguito de Val, St. Augustine Chapel, Saint Pedro Arbues, St. Bernard, St. Vincent, St. James the Great and Chapel of the Birth of Christ.
Aljafería is a palace that was constructed during the second half of the eleventh century. After the city was captured in the twelfth century by Alfonso I, this structure became the primary residence of the Christian Kings of Aragon. It was also the birthplace of Saint Isabel of Portugal in the thirteenth century. In the sixteenth century, it was renovated into a military installation. Troubadour Tower is the oldest part of the palace. Its has a four side base and consist of five levels, some of which go back to the ninth century. Monasterio de Piedra is another prominent attraction in the city of Saragossa. This complex is not only a monastery, but is also a park and hotel complex. It was built in the twelfth century by Cistercian monks and was dedicated to Santa María la Blanca. The monastery was completed in three stages and the architectural design reflects this. It contains Gothic elements from the thirteenth century, Gothic Renaissance from the sixteenth century and Baroque from the eighteenth century. This entire structure has been declared a very important national monument.
Other attractions to see in the city of Saragossa include Belchite, Calatayud, Daroca, El Ebro, Palacio de la Aljaferia, Museo del Puerto Romano, Museo de Saragossa, River Aquarium, Arco del Dean, Museo Camon Aznar, Canal Imperial de Aragon, Plaza Espana, Calle Alfonso, Caspe, Museo Pablo Gargallo, Castillo de Trasmoz, Arbole Theater, Palacio de los Condes de Morata, Museo de Zaragoza Seccion de Ceramica, La Lonja, Palacio Arzobispal, Museo Taurino, Calle San Vicente de Paul, Ayuntamiento, Antigua Facultad de Medicina, Seminario de San Carlos, Campus Universitario, Murallas Romanas, Club de Golf La Penaza, Colegio Escuelas Pias, Ejea de los Caballeros, Fuente de la Hispanidad, Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Portillo, Iglesia de San Felipe, Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Carmen, Iglesia de San Juan de los Panetes, Edificio Pignatelli and Monumento a Goya. The city is also home to a number of great restaurants, cafes and hotels sprinkled throughout the city.