Coast to Coast



28 April – 02 May 2019

We had previously walked into Zaragoza on the Camino Catalan so after Batea we took the bus. It’s our third visit to Zaragoza and we continue to be overwhelmed by the beauty of this ancient city.

There are Roman walls and an amphitheater, a significant Moorish Palace plus two medieval Cathedrals. The old town is entirely semi- pedestrianised with huge open spaces and no cars or pollution.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is the first church in history dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that soon after the death of Christ, Saint James (Santiago) was preaching in Spain without success. Whilst sitting disheartened on the banks of the Ebro, Mary appeared and instructed him to build a temple here in her honour. Over the years numerous churches have been built on this site including the present 17th century one. During the Spanish Civil War three bombs were dropped on the church but none of them exploded; a miracle?

The majestic Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar Cathedral-Basilica
With 11 domes and 4 towers, it is the second largest in Spain (after Sevilla)
San Salvador Cathedral built on a Mosque that was built on a Roman temple
A masterpieces of Aragonese Mudejar in brick and tile, 1360
View from our apartment
Stone bridge across the Ebro, 1400 reconstructed 1659 after a flood destroyed 2 sections
Mudejar tower of the Church of San Gil Abad, mid-14th century
Behind the Roman wall, the Leaning Tower of Zaragoza started tilting soon after it was built in 1504
An old town street packed with locals enjoying tapas on a Sunday afternoon
Zaragoza specialties
Slow cooked lamb | Barraja (green vegetable, rice & clams) | Guirlache (toffeed almonds)
Last meal at La Flor de la Sierra, a dozen fresh grilled sardines with a bottle of Rueda Verdejo


30 April 2019

We did a day trip to Calatayud (1¼ hours each way by train) to see the World Heritage Mudejar Church of Santa María. Although the city was reconquered in 1119, the many surviving examples of Mudejar architecture shows the Moorish influence lived on.

Mudéjar is the term for Muslims who remained living in territories conquered by the Christians. Mudejar art, particularly in architecture, is the application to Christian buildings of Hispano-Muslim influences mainly the geometric use of brick and simple tiles during the 12th to 15th centuries. It is unique to Spain and Portugal, with many examples in the Aragon region.

Tower of the World Heritage Mudejar Church of Santa María de Calatayud
Two Mudejar Towers in Calatayud, similar but not exactly the same
Arco de San Miguel 16th century now contains a hotel/restaurant
16th century Renaissance entrance to the Fortified Enclosure of Calatayud
Dried conger eel hanging in a fish shop window – it’s a delicacy here
In the middle ages, people of Calatayud took rope to Galicia and traded it for dried giant eels
17th century houses around the Plaza España in Calatayud


01 May 2019

Huesca, on the edge of the outer mountain ranges of the Pyrenees, is an hour on a bus north of Zaragoza so we went for a night. The extensive old city is pedestrianised making it pleasant to wander around.

Monastery of San Pedro el Viejo is one of the oldest churches in Spain, preserved since the time of the Goths
Even during the Arab times, it was a temple where Christians congregated
The Monastery cloister has 38 capitals each decorated with 12th century Bible scenes
Pre-lunch drinks in the Cathedral Plaza
We bought delicious hand made chocolate in Ultramarinos la Confianza
Continuously operating since 1871 it is Europe’s oldest grocery store
Traditional Huesca dish – Pollo al Chilidrón; Chicken stewed with tomatoes and peppers
All the restaurants were booked out for Labour Day so we were lucky to find it at a bar