Sunday, 1 July 2012

Visit to Zaragoza

Zaragoza from the north bank of the river Ebro

We have just returned from a four day coach trip to Zaragoza and Teruel.   We have driven through Aragon before when we moved from UK to Spain, but this was our first real visit.  We were particularly interested in Zaragoza, and looking forward to finding any locations related to the siege in 1808.

It was a disappointment to find that the tourist information had very little to offer.   They told us there was a statute to the “Maid of Aragon” who fired the cannon at the French when her gunner lover/husband was struck down.  

There was also one of the original town gates called Puerto del Carmen.  It is now a traffic island in the middle of the three lane Paseo de Pamplona.

But most of the southern part of the city had been destroyed in the fighting.   The northern part, near the river Ebro, remains and is now the main tourist attraction.  But it played no part in the street fighting which was so much a part of the siege.   And it was out of range of the French artillery deployed to the south, east and west.

This was pretty much what I had expected.  

I had a map of the city during the siege with me, and after some discussion the tourist information  suggested that I try Calle Doctor Palomar.   This is one of the few remaining sections of the old city, and there are a couple of buildings with musket and cannon damage from the fighting.

Calle Coso

Our hotel was on the famous Calle Coso, which marked the furthest point reached by the French during the fighting.   The inner city to the north was held by the Spanish until the final surrender.   This is now the “tourist Zaragoza”.

It was disappointing to walk along this road which I had read so much about, and find a wide impersonal city centre street such as you might find in any large city.   Nothing at all to evoke images of the desperate fighting.

River Huerva

We did however find the river Huerva, which marked the outer limit of the old city.  It is now a small park, and provided welcome relief from the high afternoon temperatures.

Calle Doctor Palomar 

Calle Doctor Palomar we found to be just what we had hoped to find.   Parts have been rebuilt, but much of the original remains.   Better still it has the same narrow streets which feature so much in descriptions of the battle.   In the photo above Jan is looking at the musket marks on the large building on the right.

We took lots of photographs, but most too specialist to make much sense without a detailed description.  So perhaps I will start another section of our “Walking Napoleonic Battlefields” to cover those we have visited on day trips since we moved to Spain six years ago.

You will find more photographs of our visit on our blog “Paul and Jan in Spain 2012” at:

Zaragoza is well worth a visit, but do come prepared if you want to find the city of 1808.

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