The vibration of the drums that hits the belly and the ears, the penetrating smell of incense that saturates the nostrils, the darkness of the night that envelops and concentrates… Suddenly, through a corner begins to glimpse one of the spectacular processional steps that pass with elegance through the narrow streets of the historic center. One image, five senses, one city. This is how the Holy Week of Zaragoza is lived.
More than 15,000 brotherhoods, 4,000 drums and bass drums and 55 processions put in figures the extraordinary dimension of one of the biggest celebrations of the Aragonese capital. A religious and cultural festival that has been catalogued of international tourist interest, and that attracts every year residents and visitors in nine intense days dedicated to religiosity, art, tourism, leisure and, of course, gastronomy.
But if there is something that characterizes the Holy Week of Zaragoza, which is celebrated this year between April 1 and 9, 2023, is that it does not leave indifferent any of the five senses. The rumbling of drums and timpani mixes with the smell of incense, the beauty of the processional steps and the visual symphony offered by the tunics of the members of the 25 brotherhoods, in a spectacle that gathers thousands of people in the streets of a city that welcomes its visitors with open arms.
Zaragoza is a city with more than 2,000 years of history that has such a vast heritage and such a complete cultural agenda that the nine days of Holy Week are not enough to enjoy it. The four cultures (Roman, Muslim, Jewish and Christian) that have enriched its stones and its people, the immense Francisco de Goya or its interesting gastronomic offer are part of the attractions that the visitor can discover during his visit.
Cofrade route, in the heart of the Holy Week in Zaragoza
The Cofrade Route is a recommendable first contact with the Holy Week in Zaragoza, as well as with its streets and culture. It is a guided tour through some of the most emblematic churches of this religious and cultural festival, thanks to which visitors can learn about the most representative brotherhoods, as well as discover its interesting historical and artistic value.
The Cofrade Route consists of two routes of an hour and a half in which you can visit the churches of San Felipe, Santa Isabel de Portugal, San Pablo and Santo Tomás de Aquino in route 1, and the churches of Santiago, Santa Engracia and San Miguel de los Navarros in route 2. They cost 2 € and can be booked at www.zaragozaturismo.es or at the tourist offices of the city.
The Zaragoza of Francisco de Goya
Zaragoza, in addition to its emblematic Holy Week, is also known for being the birthplace of Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, one of the great masters of world art. The former chamber painter of King Charles IV, spent his childhood and youth in the city, until he was 29 years old, so it was in the Aragonese capital where he was formed as an artist and human being.
The Museo Goya-Colección Ibercaja is the place where visitors will find a complete account of the work and life of the genius of Fuendetodos. The museum exhibits fourteen paintings, one drawing and the five large series that Goya engraved. The chronology of these works by Goya, from his youthful period in Zaragoza (1762-1774) to his stay in Bordeaux, where he died in 1828, make this museum one of the reference centers for the knowledge of the work of the painter from Fuendetodos.
Goya’s work can also be seen in other parts of the city, such as the Basilica del Pilar, where you can enjoy the vault of the Coreto, in front of the Holy Chapel of the Virgin, the Museum of Zaragoza or the Alma Mater Museum.
Zaragoza Tourism also offers two guided tours that help locals and visitors alike to get closer to the figure of this universal genius: the Goya Walk and Goya: the origin of a genius. Both tours can be booked on the Zaragoza Turismo website or at the city’s tourist offices.
Caesaraugusta and the Roman Zaragoza
Zaragoza is also known as the city of the four cultures. The first of these, the Roman, is the one that gave it its present name. Although the origin of the settlement dates back to Salduie, an Iberian city located on the site of the present city, Zaragoza took its name from Caesaraugusta, named in honor of Emperor Caesar Augustus in 14 B.C. Its Roman nomenclature evolved through the Arabic Saraqusta, and Medina Albaida (white city), to be called Saragoça after the Christian reconquest in 1118, a name that evolved into Çaragoça, finally adopting its current name, Zaragoza.
More than 2,000 years have passed since its foundation by the Roman emperor, but the vestiges of the passage of this civilization are many and very well preserved. The visitor cannot miss, for example, the spectacular Museum of the Theater of Caesaraugusta, from whose exterior you can see a magnificent Roman amphitheater that will not leave anyone indifferent.
The Roman Zaragoza has another of its jewels in the Museum of the Forum of Caesaraugusta or the Roman walls, part of the latter located in a popular area of “terracing” of the city. The visit can be completed with the Museum of the Baths or the Museum of the River Port.
Tourist bus and guided tours of Zaragoza
Easter is a good time to discover Zaragoza, not only because of the characteristic atmosphere that pervades the city during those nine days, but also because during Easter some of the tourist services that help to get to know the essential historical-artistic heritage of the city return.
A good way to get a general idea of what is going on in this city is through the Tourist Bus, available again since March. In its ninety-minute tour, those who dare to get to know the city will learn all kinds of stories and anecdotes, and will be able to take the most interesting photographs without leaving the site.
And for the more adventurous walkers, Zaragoza Turismo offers Guided Walks on foot. During this Easter Week is available the Route of the Sieges, which recalls some of the events lived in Zaragoza from May 1808 to February 1809, one of the most famous and relevant episodes that the city has lived. Also available to residents and visitors are the Paseo Romano, the Paseo Mudéjar or two unique jewels in the heart of the city.
Finally, Easter also marks the beginning of the routes with Zaragoza Turismo’s tourist informers, an interesting program in which students from the University School of Tourism of Zaragoza and the University of Zaragoza accompany the most curious people through the most emblematic corners of the city: the route of the Historical Center and a Photo Walk along the Ribera are the options available for these dates.
The gastronomy of Zaragoza: a stop along the way
Easter in the city offers great cultural, artistic and historical attractions for the visitor, but we cannot forget those wonderful earthly pleasures that are so much enjoyed in Zaragoza. And there is nothing like savoring those dishes, ranging from tradition to the latest avant-garde, that recompose body and spirit after a day of sightseeing.
The traditional cod dishes, stews, casseroles, torrijas or buñuelos de viento, so typical of Easter, join a complete gastronomic offer that even has three Michelin-starred restaurants (La Prensa, Cancook and Gente Rara). Migas, ternasco or trenza de Almudévar are just a small selection of what can be tasted here.
Zaragoza is Easter… and much more…
History, art, culture… Zaragoza is Easter and much more. It is also a film destination, it is Mudejar -declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO-, it is gastronomy -the city is the Ibero-American Capital of Sustainable Gastronomy-, it is art and, above all, Zaragoza is people who welcome visitors with open arms.
Zaragoza loves you, let yourself be loved!