Zaragoza is home to the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, named for the pillar on which the Virgin Mary is reported to have appeared. Many women in the city are named Pillar in honor of the well-loved Basilica.
Outside of the city center is the Moorish castle Aljaferia, which is regarded as one of the most significant examples of Moorish architecture in northern Spain. It now houses the Aragonese parliament and is the setting for Giuseppe Verdi’s opera The Troubadour (Il trovatore).
The city has many world-class museums and art galleries. Expats interested in art should visit the Museum of Fine Arts Zaragoza, which showcases early Aragonese artists from the 15th century, along with international names such as Rubens, Rembrant, Van Dyck, Goya, Renoir, and Manet.
There is also a well-established expat community in Zaragoza, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet and socialize with people from all over the world. There are several international pubs and bars, such as Bull McCabes, Flahertys and Gallaghers, which are popular meeting points for expats and visitors.
Getting around the city is easy for expats living in Zaragoza, with a comprehensive bus network managed by the Urban Buses of Zaragoza (AUZSA). There are 31 regular bus lines that service the city, two of which are circular routes. At night, the city is served by seven night bus routes that operate at the weekend and on public holidays. There is also an interurban bus network that is operated by the Transport Consortium Zaragoza Area (CTAZ).
Zaragoza now has a new tram system, which makes even more of the city accessible via efficient and environmentally friendly trams. The tram line links the old city and city center to the university campuses and popular neighborhoods including Romareda, Valdespartera and Parque Goya.
For expats who prefer to get to know the city on two wheels, Zaragoza is very cycle-friendly. There’s a good network of cycle lanes and paths around the city, and there is a public bike-hire scheme run by the city council where bikes can be hired for a small annual charge, with different docking points around the city.
The Spanish state education system is very good, and expats can send their children to a state school free of charge, as long as they have registered on the municipal register — the Empadronamiento or Padron — at their local town hall. This is often a good option for expats with young children who have an easier time getting over the language barrier.
There is an option for semi-private schools, which are former private schools subsidized by the government. There may be fees due, but these are generally very low. These schools offer smaller class sizes and more individual attention, but the standard does vary depending on the neighborhood.
Many expats choose private international schools for their children during their time in Zaragoza. Most international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) or a specific country’s curriculum.
We have also taken a more general, country-specific look at these topics in our article on Living in Spain.