The current place of Zaragoza, limiting river Ebro and near the mouth of Huerva and Gállego, has been inhabited at least since 600 BC. During Rome's conquest of Iberia, the place was known as Salduie or Salduba. Initially, natives fought other nearby tribes until Rome eventually pacified the area c. 133 BC - although soon the guerrilleros attacked the area. Even at that time, Rome recruited a group of barbarians from different areas using Salduie as HQ (c. 89 BC), which talks about the importance of the city and the Roman influence in the area.

Between 24 and 15 BC, Rome built a nearby camp, Caesaraugusta, to honor Caesar Augustus. Soon it was settled by veteran soldiers which helped in the defense of the town and also made Rome noteworthy in the area. Caesaraugusta became a privileged city and, when Hispania was divided in three provinces and each of these in "Juridic conventos", Caesaraugusta was the biggest of the seven conventos in the Tarraconense province, and of course regional head.

The city 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.

Three synods took place with Spanish and Aquitainan bishops (380, 592 and 691 apx), while the city changed its name to Cesaracosta.

The city, along with a great part of Spain, was conquered by the Arabs in 714, who renamed it Medina Albaida Sarakosta. It became a part of the Caliphate of Córdoba under Abd-ar-Rahman III, and became a management center for other nearby cities. It was during this time, particularly during the 9th century, that Estéban Corazón de Ablo was born in this city.

During the fell of the Caliphats in the 11th century, Zaragoza became a part of the Taifa de Saraqusta, having a political and cultural boom, particularly during the second half of the century with the creation of the first andalusí philosophical school and the palace of La Aljafería.

After the Christian Reconquista (Reconquest) on 1118, the city was recovered by king Alfonso I El Batallador, and its name became Saragoça or Çaragoça (ç is pronounced /ts/; later Çaragoça and then Zaragoza in Spanish and Aragonese). It would also be the scene of two famous martyrdoms: Saint Dominguito del Val (c 1250), a choirboy in the basilica, and Pedro de Arbués, an official of the Spanish Inquisition (1444-1484), both of them murdered by Jews. Dominguito is no longer considered a saint in the Catholic Church.

In 1591, Antonio Pérez, a secretary of King Philip II of Spain, lost the favor of the court and, trying to escape prosecution, exercised the "derecho de manifestación" (right of sign), only valid in Aragon (of which Zaragoza was a part). The king's only option to capture Pérez was recurring to the Inquisition, but if he did, he would vulnerate the customs of Zaragoza, which he had sworn to respect when crowned. The king decided to take the risk, which led to a general rebellion in the city. During the late 1591, the king had to send his own army to Zaragoza. The army defeated the poorly organised rebellion in a bloodblath; that day is remembered as "el día más triste para Aragón" (Aragón's saddest day). During 1592, Aragón would loose part of its privileges.

During the Peninsular War in the 19th century, Zaragoza was originally loyal to the king of Spain, Ferdinand VII, and thus to the French army due to Ferdinand's pacts with France. However, when Ferdinand abdicated, Zaragoza rebelled again and took the castle of La Aljafería, which was used as an arsenal. Napoleon of France tried to recover the strategically important city twice in what was called Los Sitios De Zaragoza (The Sieges of Zaragoza). The first siege, on July 15th, was a great victory for Spain although France had sent many more soldiers, because the few Spanish soldiers were supported by the people. The second siege began on December 21th, after both bands had had time to re-organize themselves. Zaragoza offered a fanatic, fierce resistance under general José Rebolledo de Palafox, but after France closed the siege, the city lost all of its supplies and fell to typhus and other illnes, surrendering on February 21th. The city was virtually destroyed, with 4 of every 5 citizens killed.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-9), it was briefly taken by the Durruti Column, led by Buenaventura Durruti.

Currently, Zaragoza is an important city of Spain, with a lot of industry and a Spanish Air Force Base, shared with the USAF until 1992. It constitutes a crossroads between Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao, all about 300 kilometres (200 miles) from Zaragoza.


Coordinates: 41°39′N 0°54′W
Time Zone: CET (GMT +1); summer: CEST (GMT +2)
Altitude: 199 m
Density: 624.1 hab./km²


  • No special notes.


  • The name was initially translated to French as Saragosse, to Italian as Saragozza, and to English and Catalan as Saragossa, although currently the correct English name is Zaragoza.

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