The Aljaferia Palace was a pleasant and culturally enriching experience during my most recent visit to Zaragoza, Spain. I had been to Zaragoza a few years ago, but I did not have the time to see the city properly. For my second trip to the city, I conducted more research and learned about the Aljaferia Palace. The palace is a stunning representation of moorish and renaissance design and it is a must see while visiting Zaragoza.
The Aljaferia Palace in Zaragoza, Spain was originally built in the late 11th century during the era of Abu Jaffa Al-Muqtadir.(1) In the year 1118, Alfonso I (El Batallador), of Aragon captured the city of Zaragoza from the moors and converted the palace into the royal residence for Christian Kings of the Kingdom of Aragon for centuries.(2)
The Islamic Palace
Once you walk into the palace your mouth will drop from the beauty of the Portico and the moorish style arches.
Behind the Portico are more rooms of the Islamic Palace. The rooms are beautifully decorated and currently house pieces of art.
The Palace of the Catholic King and Queen
The palace was erected on top of the Moslem structure in the year 1492.(3) The palace is composed of a flight of stairs, galleries and collection of rooms known as the “The Lost Steps”, and the Great Throne Room.
I made my way to the upper floors of the palace of the Catholic King and Queen to the prisoner room. There are several walls in the rooms with graffiti from prisoners over several centuries. I saw carving of several crosses and also strange symbols.
Modern Day & Contemporary Restoration
In 1593, by the order of King Phillip II, the Siennese engineer Tiburcio Spanochi drew up plans to transform the Aljaferia into a modern style fort or citadel.(4) During this time, the outer wall enclosure was added to the palace and along with an imposing moat that surrounded the entire fortification. A draw bridge was also added for further protection. Philip II wanted to demonstrate to the Aragonese that royal authority ruled in Aragon despite there demands for their independence. He also wanted to curb revolts by the people of Zaragoza. (5)
“In 2001, the palace was declared the Mudejar architecture of Aragon a World Heritage site, and praised the Aljaferia palace as one of their best monuments.” (6) However, it was a long road to get the palace looking as it does today. In 1931, the palace was declared a national monument and in 1947, the palace was in a very bad state. The architect Francisco Iniguez Almech, began a slow recover task that lasted 30 years.(7) In 1982, Almech died but architects Angel Peropadre Muniesa, Luis Franco Lahoz, and Mariano Peman Gavin continued the work to bring the palace to its current state. I think that they did an amazing job. The palace is one of the most beautiful castles I have seen in Spain.
The palace is closed on Thursdays and Friday morning because the palace is utilized by the Regional Assembly of Aragon.
November – March: Morning 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Afternoons 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
April – October: Morning 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Afternoons 4:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Adults: 5€/Students: 1€/
FREE on Sundays
*1-7 taken from the brochure provided by the palace and also wikipedia.com
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