The courtyard of the Infanta is quite difficult to find. Near Independence Pass, looking for this historic place, expecting an old building in the middle of all this modernity, and all you see are towers a huge El Corte Ingles and a lot of traffic. You have to look well, because the courtyard is in an office tower, a bank at San Ignacio de Loyola, 16. There is a guard at the entrance that'll let you by although the bank is closed. It's hours are Monday to Friday from 9-2pm and 6-9pm, and Saturday from 11-2pm and 6-9pm. This courtyard is an old Parian built in the 16th century it was part of the palace of Gabriel Zaporta. This rich business man brought the best craftsmen of the time to make one of the city's nicest courtyards. The courtyard is quite modern for the time, and it tells the story of Infanta Teresa of Vallabriga, wife of the Infante Don Luis, the brother of Carlos III. Free entry.
Architecturally, the Puerta del Carmen is a simple stone gate structure with a Roman triumphal arch, composed of a higher central arch and two lateral sides. Built by the architect Agustin Sanz in 1792, the Puerta del Carmen is a very important symbol of the city. Not only does it mark the spot where Zaragoza was founded, but also as the visitor approaches, they can see some of the marks from the bullets that were fired during the Siege of Zaragoza when the French made a concerted attack on the city during the war of 1808 and 1809. The gate has become a symbol of unity against the French invaders, although ironically, two hundred years later, its worst damage was to come from a bus crashing into it!
There has been a market here since about 1200. By 1900 or so, it was decided to build a modern market, and the work was entrusted to Felix Navarro (a great architect, dead now some 100 years). He was one of those architects to introduce new materials, especially iron, to Spanish architecture. The new market opened in 1903. Five years later, Miguel Echegaray and Manuel Fernandez Caballero passed through here, and wrote about it in their work "Gigantes y Cabezudos". The entire first part takes place here in the square, from the fights between the vendors to the news that the City Council is going to raise taxes and the climax, in which Pilar, the protagonist, begins to sing a famous chorus.
La Lonja is a Renaissance-style buildling of epic proportions wedged between the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar and the La Seo Cathedral in Zaragoza's historic district. It was built in the 15th century as a marketplace of sorts, but it's currently used as an exhibition gallery that hosts photo exhibits, art, sculpture, and more.
I was really impressed by the massive columns and arched ceiling; it gives an incredible sensation of space and grandeur...you can't help but feel a bit awe-struck. The exhibits are almost always free to make sure to check it out if you're in the area. Even if you're not interested in the exhibit itself (lucky for me, I was there for a cool travel photography exhibit), it's worth a walk to enjoy the monumental silence, massive columns, and epic ceiling.
Calatayud is a small town. The nicest thing to do is to walk through the small streets where you find little architectural treasures which sweeten the view. One of them is the Home of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria la Mayor.
Although it's officially called Fuente de la Princesa (princess' fountain), this is known throughout the city as Neptune's Fountain. It dates back to 1845, and although it has stood at various locations, it was moved to this park in 1902. Until that date, it was a functional fountain, supplying water to the city of Zaragoza, but now it is purely decorative. It has an image of the god Neptune and four dolphins.
The slope on which the tower is is incredible, next to the Tourist Office of Calatayud. As we were told, Queen Isabel II, used to sleep in the palace of Baron Warsage which is right in front of this tower, that's why it so high. It was ordered to be removed, for fear that it would fall onto the palace.
The Carthusians are special people. They decide to spend their life in silence and solitude, but live in communities with other recluses like themselves. For this reason Carthusian are very special monasteries, which are not like any other, and in Zaragoza there were no fewer than two.
In one of those, the Aula Dei, there are still monks, although they are on the point of leaving. Their name is known throughout the world for one reason: it was Goya who painted the enormous frescos in the church.
This is perhaps the single most over-the-top and ostentatious building I've ever seen. There is no much striking detail and decoration in literally every inch of this place that it's hard to take it all in at once.
As far as the history goes, I can't tell you too much. It was built by the ruins of old synagogue which, after the Jews were expelled from Spain, became a chapel for the Jesuits who were in turn expelled from Spain themselves. The building eventually became the Royal Seminary of San Carlos and underwent extensive Baroque renovations during the 17th and 18th century.
I don't know even where to begin with this place. It's incredible. You just have to see it for yourself!