Returning to Zaragoza to see the Aljafería

On Friday, May 17th, after having visited Soria, we arrive in Zaragoza, where we have booked one night in the district called Delicias, close to the Aljafería.

We had seen Zaragoza two years ago. It has a great city center with the Basilica of our Lady of the Pilar, the Lonja, the Cathedral of San Salvador and the museum of Goya, all along the river banks of the Ebro. Two years ago, the Aljafería was closed, and this is what we want to visit now.

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Aljafería – the palace of the Moorish, Aragonese and Castilian-Aragonese kings 

The Aljafería is well worth the detour. It is an exquisite example of Muslim architecture, built by the ruler of one of the Moorish kindgoms (Taifas) in the 11th century (later, in the 14th century, the Nasrid rulers of Granada, conceived the Alhambra with the Aljafería in mind).

Again under Christian rule from the early 12th century on, it was the royal palace of the Aragonese kings. Around 1500 the Castilian-Aragonese Catholic couple Isabel and Ferdinand added their own palace with Renaissance and Mudéjar elements. Soon afterwards the Aljafería was turned into a fortification to control Aragón and in the 19th century it served as a casern. It decayed and was restored in the late 20th century (Source: Leaflet received when visiting the Aljafería, Information panels in the palace and wikipedia).

From outside the Aljafería looks well -fortified with bastions reminding somewhat of Vauban, the fortification architect of Louis XIV from France.

The courtyard reminds me of the Generalife in the (younger) Alhambra at Granada. Later the courtyard was named after Santa Isabel; the Aragonese princess was probably born in this palace and became Queen of Portugal in the 14th century.

At one end of the courtyard are the former Moorish royal rooms. A rectangular hall connects the mosque and a hall.

This is the entrance to the mosque which was used by the Moorish ruler.

Finely carved windows inside. The ceiling is a later addition. It is not known, what it looked like originally.

The Mihrab is orientated to the east.

Across is another hall with this finely decorated entry gate.

I love the Moorish yeserias with the elegant floral and geometric patterns.

In the early 12th century the Christian-Aragonese kings created the fresco in the large Moorish hall on the groundfloor.

Large Renaissance steps lead onto the first floor with the rooms of the Catholic couple Ferdinand and Isabel. This is the Mudéjar style ceiling of the crown hall.

Today, the Cortés of Aragón (the parliament) meets in the Aljafería, what a majestic location!

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Evening walk and some tapas in Delicias

Our hotel Delicias is located in the outside district called Delicias. We had selected it to be close to the Aljaferia. We do not feel like more sightseeing and ask the friendly receptionist of our hotel, where we could have some tapas nearby. “Two streets away from here”, she tells us. What we find two streets away is a pedestrian area with many shops, bars and restaurants, full of people enjoying the warm and sunny Friday evening. I loved this metal construction- I am not sure, what it has been made for.

This “little corner” offers ham from Aragón announcing it with the humoresque piglet.

A relaxed atmosphere! We find a friendly bar where we have some tapas. Tomorrow we will return to Catalonia and settle in the appartment of our friends.

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