Zaragosa, located on the Rio Ebro (Spain’s largest river), is the capital of Aragon.
The Aragonese government functions out of the Aljaferia Castle (on a hill, accessed by its original bridge, surrounded by a massive moat – the bottom of which is covered in neatly trimmed lawn). It is a former Moorish Palace built in the 11th century. Beautiful coffered ceilings, fine columns and delicate plasterwork surround a light-filled central courtyard. The modern seat of power located in a former seat of power.
At the other end of the construction spectrum, the narrowest build in town forms part of our apartment – and included a balcony! The orange facade is four storeys squeezed in between two apartment blocks.
We’re in this city for the art of Goya, the famous son of Zaragosa.
The Museo de Zaragosa has a superb of his paintings, of whose work I knew La maja vestida and La maja desnuda (the young lady dressed and the young lady undressed). Of his etchings I knew little, and this museo has a vast collection. The etchings capturing the horrors of war were particularly disturbing. The works are superbly curated.
The museum also has a superb collection of Roman mosaics. Whilst it may seem preferable that mosaics be left ‘in situ’, the reality is that protecting them from theft and the elements is very costly. Curating the mosaics in a museum means that more people can have access to appreciate them. Groups of all ages from cute little six year-olds in their coverall pinnies, dutifully holding hands, through to too-cool-to-be-interested teenagers, and groups of Spanish travellers, populate museums and art galleries across the country, hearing earnest presentations about artists and their works.
We were also fortunate to be able to view two temporary exhibitions: Origami and cartoons. It was the first time a number of the amazing origami pieces had left Japan in decades. The cartoon art – comic book style works – made scathing commentary on social issues. Trying to manage an adequate translation was often difficult, because idiomatic expressions tend to lose something in translation.