Day 7 – Zaragoza City Centre (3/7/18)
(Disclaimer: This trip was almost 6 months ago now. Any “facts” I state from here on in will be worth double checking elsewhere before quoting to anyone)
Day started with visit to Aljaferia Palace in Zaragoza city centre. Can’t remember any exact dates but place was initially built when this are of Spain was under Muslim occupation and has been extended numerous times over the years.
(group photo outside the front)
Almost had a potential issue on entrance to the palace. As I was planning to finish the picnic food from the night before that evening, I borrowed a butter knife from the breakfast bar just so I had something to spread butter with that evening. This meant I had an actual knife on me walking through metal detectors….. Luckily they didn’t pick it up and day continued normally. (Knife stayed in bag all day and was returned to breakfast bar without any issues. With all the knife crime issues around, although it was only a butter knife, it still felt wrong to have this knife in my bag all day…)
The organisers of ISWZ had organised a guided tour of the palace which started in the Muslim-built section. Was all very nicely built with the same architecture stylings expected from Muslim-built buildings of the era with a lot of marble in arches and flooring.
(Wooden floor section used to be a swimming pool. Covered over permanently for health and safety reasons)
(Girl in Ed Sheeran shirt is Irish and goes to uni in Galway. Quite lucky I don’t know the lyrics to that certain song…)
(Small Mosque area within palace)
(Well within palace. Path shown was secret pathway but can’t remember significance)
Built above the Muslim section of the palace is the Christian-Built section, built after Muslim rule ended. Was purposely built on top of Muslim section in show of power over old Muslim rulers. Architecture now very similar to the manor houses in the UK with some very intricate ceilings.
(Picture of picture of design on ceilings beams in previous photo, did try for a zoomed in shot of roof but came out terribly)
Back downstairs, there was a small museum area full of parts of the building they were unable to restore in situ.
(View back across courtyard to the swimming pool/mosque area shown earlier, quite clearly showing more modern Christian palace directly above Muslim palace)
Only half the palace is open to the public usually as the building is still used as the local seat of government and holds the parliament chamber for the Aragon area of Spain. This means there are quite a few government buildings towards the back of the palace closed off to the public and the high security mentioned earlier. We were allowed into the parliament chamber briefly though:
Next up was a guided walking tour of the city centre. Tour started a short walk away from Aljaferia palace so took some photos on route:
Tour started outside this tower.
(Can’t remember significance but think it was part of original city walls. Possibly dates from Muslim occupation of area)
(Statue of Julius Ceasar. Initial foundations for Zaragoza date from Roman times and wall in left of photo is one of few remnants of original roman city walls. On right is central market of Zaragoza, under renovation at time of visit)
(Better photo of central market)
(Group photo! I’m stood behind Tour guide in Ipswich shirt, quite a few group shots were taken that day)
(One of many churches in Zaragoza (Chuch of Saint Isabel of Portugal according to Google Maps. Believe this one is significant as some sort of miracle supposedly happened here, is the end of an Easter parade celebrating this miracle. Think it was something to do with Mary appearing to someone but unsure)
(Local dog jumped into nearby fountain. Wouldn’t have minded joining it in the Spanish heat that day…)
Tour moved on through the city centre to the main cathedral in the city (Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar). This place was huge and had some fantastic detailing inside. Highly recommend a visit to anyone in the area. Unfortunately, there were no photos allowed inside so only got outside shots:
(Another group photo)
Tour moved on towards the other cathedral in the city. Believe Zaragoza is the only city with 2 Catholic Cathedrals consecrated by the Pope!
(Nearby clock tower, in direction of other cathedral)
(another church style building in opposite direction, not sure what it actually was)
(Goya statue (Famous artist who lived and worked in Zaragoza))
(Clock tower again)
(Can’t remember name of this building but all around the top of it are various small statues representative of all people and trades living and working in Zaragoza at the time. This doesn’t show in the photo but all statues are facing forward out from the building except one. This statue is said to the local prostitute at the time....)
(Can’t remember when during the tour this group photo was taken so inserting it here. I wonder where I am in this photo, not exactly clear
Just around the corner from the statue building was this horse statue. Built in honour of a photographer who apparently worked this spot every day for ~70 years. Apparently, he was known for using a horse model to keep the attention of the children in the photo, hence the horse statue:
(Group photo around the statue)
Tour continued round to the 2nd Cathedral. Like Aljaferia, believe this has had a complex history of religions with both Muslims and Christians building and using this building as a place of worship. This means a lot of architectural influences from both cultures are evident on the building. Think this time it was initially Christian then Muslim before back to Christian but unsure. Unfortunately couldn’t go in due to time constraints and refurbishment work:
(close up of clock tower shown earlier)
(Some of the Muslim design influences on the building)
(Transition between both architectural styles on this tower)
This was the official end of the guided tour but on way back through the city centre, we passed this fountain. There is additional significance to it but is designed to look like South America.
(Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar again from a different angle)
Took a tram over to the 2nd campus of the uni for lunch and an afternoon tour of the research facilities there. Interestingly (for the train geeks on here), the trams here run off both overhead wires and batteries. Wires on the outskirts of the city and runs off the batteries in the city centre. Certainly saves any planning permission issues with the wires running through the historic city centre.
The research lab tours involved viewing the Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEM) and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) facilities on site. Both machines are used to help image molecules to view their molecular properties. Being a chemist interested in Spectroscopy and Microscopy techniques, this was interesting to me but did get tiring and had a bit of information overload, especially after the 2 guided tours that morning!
(The outside of the TEM)
(Inside the TEM with the researcher head in the way)
Once tours were over for the day, I headed back to the residence and took my chance for a brief swim in the pool. As mentioned earlier, I finished the picnic food I had for an evening meal and successfully returned the knife without any issues.
Day 8 and more uni tours coming soon (+ a cred!)
(In case I never get round to finishing writing this, I have uploaded and organised all the photos from this trip to Imgur. Link is below, let me know if it doesn’t work: https://thekingin64.imgur.com/