Zaragoza

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Zaragoza

Zaragoza (thärägō´thä) or Saragossa (sâr´əgō´sə), city (1990 pop. 592,686), capital of Zaragoza prov. and leading city of Aragón, NE Spain, on the Ebro River. An important commercial and communications center, it is situated in a fertile, irrigated agricultural region. Among its manufactures are vehicles, wood products, machinery, foodstuffs, and paper. It is an archiepiscopal see and has a university (founded 1474). Of ancient origin, it was named Caesarea Augusta by Emperor Augustus. It fell to the Goths (5th cent.) and to the Moors (8th cent.), under whom it became (1017) the capital of an independent emirate. Charlemagne tried to take it but was defeated by the Moors (778). The Cid fought for a time in the service of the Moorish ruler of Zaragoza. The city was conquered (1118) by Alfonso I of Aragón, who made it the capital of his kingdom. The most notable event in the later history of Zaragoza was its heroic resistance, under the leadership of Palafox, against the French in the Peninsular War. The city resisted the first siege (1808), surrendering only after some 50,000 defenders had died in the second siege (1808–9). Zaragoza is a cultural center and is rich in works of art, many of which show Moorish influence. There are two cathedrals—La Seo (12th–16th cent.), formerly a mosque, and El Pilar (17th cent.), named after the sacred pillar near which the Virgin is said to have appeared in the vision of St. James the Greater. El Pilar contains frescoes by Velázquez and Goya. Also noteworthy are the Church of San Pablo, the Moorish castle of Aljafería (residence of the emirs and later the kings of Aragón), the lonja (exchange building), and a 15th-century stone bridge across the Ebro. The modern church of San Antonio de Padua contains the remains of Italian soldiers killed in the civil war (1936–39). The 2008 World Exposition was held at Zaragoza.

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