The capital of the Autonomous Community of Aragon has an abundant range of museums and galleries on offer, in which visitors can not only discover the city’s exciting history though impressive archaeological artefacts, but also enjoy works of art by prominent figures such as Francisco de Goya.
The ideal place to start a tour of the city’s main cultural venues is the Museum of Zaragoza, whose doors opened for the first time in 1836 and which today boasts Aragon’s largest museum collection. The museum’s galleries include artefacts dating from the prehistoric age right up to the 20th century. The collections feature archaeological artefacts and works of art from Caesaraugusta (the Roman name for Zaragoza), paintings from the Aragonese Gothic period, Renaissance works of outstanding quality, and 19th-century artwork, to name but a few.
Another must-see for any visitor is the Goya Museum, close to the Plaza del Pilar. As the name suggests, the museum is dedicated to the genius that was Goya, who hailed from the Aragonese town of Fuendetodos. Although the artist’s most valuable works are housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, this Zaragoza-based art gallery also has a collection of works of outstanding significance and quality. As well as a large number of Goya’s works on canvas, visitors to the galleries can also see complete sets of his famous engravings such as Los Caprichos (The Caprices), Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War), and Los Disparates (The Follies), in addition to a selection of paintings by Goya’s contemporaries.
Not far from there, in the central Plaza San Felipe, is the Argillo Palace, a Renaissance building which has housed the Pablo Gargallo Museum since 1985. This beautiful palace — a magnificent example of Aragonese Renaissance architecture — is worthy of a visit in itself, even before you consider the collection of works by this Zaragozan artist, who became one of the early 20th century’s best-known sculptors, achieving international fame and prestige.
Pablo Gargallo Museum
Another renowned Aragonese sculptor was Pablo Serrano, whose considerable range of works — sculptures, drawings and prints — fill the many floors of the IIAAC de Zaragoza (the Aragonese Institute for Contemporary Art and Culture in Zaragoza), alongside works by other artists from Aragon and elsewhere in Spain. The IIAAC, which was renovated and extended just a few years ago, is also known for its continuous programme of temporary exhibitions, as well as other cultural events. These include the concerts that take place on its modern terrace, from where visitors can enjoy magnificent views over the city.
Just five minutes’ walk from there, very near to the old Portillo station, is the city’s newest museum: Caixaforum Zaragoza. Opened in June 2014, this building designed by the architect Carme Pinós is one of the city’s most modern, unique constructions with its two remarkable large geometric shapes. In common with the other Caixaforum venues across Spain, Zaragoza’s version hosts high-profile temporary exhibitions. To date, it has exhibited works by renowned artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Dalí, Goya, Robert Capa and Fortuny, to name but a few. Its facilities also host a range of cultural events such as conferences, concerts and screenings.
These a just a few of the superb museums this city has to offer; Zaragoza has many other exhibition spaces displaying interesting permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. Some of the city’s other museums and galleries that are worth a visit include the Patio de la Infanta courtyard, the Sástago Palace, the Centro de Historias (History Centre), the Paraninfo (assembly hall) and its Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Lonja de Zaragoza building. Each one has its own full and fascinating programme of activities and exhibitions; the perfect accompaniment to a cultural scene to rival that of other Spanish and European capitals.
More information: Museums in Zaragoza