If real, authentic Spain is what you’re after this holiday season then look no further than the Aragonese city of Zaragoza. Basking in more than 2,000 years of historical gems, the seaside town has no shortage of top-notch museums to get stuck into. Culture vultures rejoice as you take a tour through time and unearth the layers of the past. Here’s seven of the best must-see museums in Zaragoza.
Located in the old pavilion of the 1908 Universal Expo building, the Museum of Zaragoza displays archaeological and fine art across a variety of different artistic periods. Divided into two sections, the space has an impressive collection of archaeological artefacts dating from pre-history to the Moorish period including bronze plaques, remains from Aljaferia Palace and a head of Augustus from Tarazona. Wander through halls of fine art exhibitions of 12th century works as well as contemporary, Gothic and numerous examples of Goya canvasses. Find it just outside the historic centre and see for yourself why this really is one of the best museums in Zaragoza.
Dedicated to the preservation of the works of one of Spain’s most loved artists, the Goya Museum is situated in the house of Jeronimo Cosida and has been open since 1979. Featuring a collection of 15 of his most note-worthy paintings, the museum is a great way to gain insight into the life of Francisco de Goya through a series of audio-visual displays. The halls are also home to a further 500 works so you can marvel at the masterpieces whilst indulging your inner art critic.
An extension of Catedral del Salvador, the tapestry museum offers a unique display of French and Flemish designs woven in Arras, Tournai and Brussels throughout the 15th to 17th century. Considered to be the best collection of its kind in the world, the museum spans a couple of floors and exhibits over 60 tapestries. Wander round and see some of the highlights which include the Sailing Ships, the Crucifixion and the Mysteries of Passion. An interesting day out, this is definitely one to add to your list of what to do and see in Zaragoza.
Discovered in 1972, the remains of the Roman arena sit on the highest point of the city and are thought to be the greatest of their kind left in Spain. Built in the first century, take a tour of the theatre’s boardwalk and pay a visit to the education centre where you can learn more about the excavation of the site and the uses of the structure when the Roman Empire was at its peak. Explore the ground floor for panoramic views and a lesson on the historical evolution of the site. Boasting audio-visual, displays, interactive exhibits and a unique insight into the former life of the city, this is a must-see when visiting the city.
Located in the former episcopal palace, the religious museum was opened in 2011 and highlights the evolution of religion throughout the history of Zaragoza. Once home to the saints, popes, bishops and kings of Aragon, the building is a museum in its own right. Make sure to take a peek at the Bishops’ Room and Throne Room where you’ll be greeted by portraits of bishops by famous artists such as Goya. Take your time to walk through a series of multi-media exhibitions and video mapping projections on the side of the building - this museum is without doubt one of the best experiences in Zaragoza.
Paying homage to the works and life of the 20th century Spanish sculptor, Pablo Gargallo, the next museum on the list is a shrine to the evolution of architecture in Zaragoza. Sitting in the Plaza San Filipe, the exhibition is displayed inside a 16th century building and includes biographical documentation, drawings, cartoons as well as examples of his greatest works such as The Great Prophet, the Olympic Salute.
Looking like something that fell from the future, the Institute of Contemporary Art and Culture is a centre for modern and contemporary art and was opened to the public in 1994. Showcasing a vast collection of both Aragonese and international artists, wander the halls and take in pieces by Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol. While you’re there, browse the library, take part in a workshop and fully immerse yourself in the world of contemporary art.
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Flights to Zaragoza
- Lucy Norris