Visit to Zaragoza 17th – 21st June 2019
June 26, 2019
The MFL department arranged a visit to Zaragoza on the 17th June 2019 for four nights, for y9 and y10 students studying GCSE Spanish. This visit gave the students the opportunity to visit the city of Zaragoza and its attractions including a day at Monasterio de Piedra National Park.
Although Zaragoza has a modern and cosmopolitan culture, the city has preserved its traditional Moorish architecture and Roman reminiscence. It is a city of spectacular monuments and great art, all against the backdrop of a rich culture. This picturesque ancient city lies along the Ebro river, and its lively culture charms visitors who stop to wander and explore. Overall, it is an extremely positive experience for the students having the opportunity to practise Spanish, try Spanish gastronomy and experience the Spanish culture; all very useful for Spanish GCSE.
DAY 1: Departing from Newcastle and arrival at Barcelona. From there we had a private coach waiting to transfer us to our accommodation in Zaragoza.
DAY 2: We visited the old part of the city and learned about the roman history of Caesaraugusta, the name of Zaragoza in the Roman period. We visited different museums such as Museo del Foro de Caesaraugusta, Teatro romano, Termas romanas and Puerto Fluvial. All the museums were located underneath what is now the square of La Seo (the cathedral), and displays archaeological remains from the old Roman Forum at the time of Emperor Tiberius. There are also the remains of a market, pipes, a sewer and some shop walls from the time of the Emperor Augustus, when Zaragoza was founded. The exhibition features a stunning audio-visual area.
We also visited the Basilica del Pilar. Legend traces the roots of the basilica back to AD 40, when St. James received an apparition on this site of the Virgin Mary while preaching Christianity in Spain. The current church was constructed in the 17th century and reflects the ornate Baroque style of the period.
Finally, we had a bit of free time around the Independence Avenue, or as the locals call it Paseo Independencia, and is the main street of Zaragoza. Halfway down the avenue, in Plaza Aragon, stands the statue of Juan de Lanuza, a famous magistrate who brought justice to the people of Zaragoza and was murdered by the government (under Felipe II) in 1591. The construction of the avenue began in the 19th century and has been periodically updated. Most recently, the city added two tram stops to the avenue making it more convenient for tourists to enjoy the nearby museums and monuments.
DAY 3: We visited the place where the international exhibition in 2008 took place. The exhibition’s most emblematic buildings were the Water Tower, an 80-metre-high transparent building designed by Enrique de Teresa to evoke a drop of water, Zaha Hadid’s Bridge Pavilion, and the river aquarium.
It is the largest river aquarium in Europe, and its 3,400 square metres are home to freshwater species from all over the world. In its facilities we could find aquatic animals from the five most important rivers on the planet: the Nile, the Mekong, the Amazon, the Darling Murray and the Ebro.
In the afternoon, after having a bit of time for shopping, we visited the Aljaferia Palace, an 11th-century Arab castle palace, unique in its historical context as the largest surviving example of Islamic/Spanish architecture from the Taifas period, it is the only large building from the time of Muslim rule in Spain that can be seen outside of Andalusia region.
DAY 4: We visited the Monasterio de Piedra National Park. The walls of the Monastery hide almost eight hundred years of history since its consecration in 1218. The Church is the central building and is surrounded by the Chapter House, wine cellar, grain store, kitchen, refectory, warming house and wine museum. The Historic Garden, Park Monasterio de Piedra, offers a spectacular walk through nature. A striking landscape where paths and trails cross over waterfalls, streams, lakes and caves under the shadow of the ancient trees. The first fish farm in Spain was created here 150 years ago and it is considered to be an ecosystem of outstanding biological wealth.
DAY 5: Departing from Zaragoza to Newcastle in the afternoon flying back from Barcelona. We also had the chance to visit the Museum of Zaragoza. The old pavilion of the 1908 Universal Expo is the setting for this museum, which is divided into two large sections: Archaeology and Fine Art. In the first you can find objects that go from prehistory through to the Moorish period. Worthy of special mention are various bronze plaques with Iberian and Latin inscriptions, a head of Augustus from Tarazona, and archaeological remains from Aljafería Palace. In the Fine Art section, there are works from the 12th century to the contemporary period, with an especially outstanding ensemble of Gothic painting, and numerous canvasses by Francisco de Goya.