We joined a four day coach tour of Zaragoza and Teruel, mainly because of the day spent in the former. The city was the scene of a long and bitter siege during the Napoleonic wars in 1808. This is a period of particular interest to Jan and I, and we hoped to find some reminders of the fighting.
So whilst the rest of the group made their way to the tourist sights of the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar and Plaza del Pilar, we made for the much more mundane looking suburbs.
The name of this very ordinary looking road is the giveaway. Calle Asalto was the scene of some of the most bitter hand to hand fighting between the Polish troops of Napoleon and the desperate Spanish population – both men and women.
The city was destroyed during the fighting, and there is not much left to give an impression of what it looked like in 1808. The tourist information office was helpful, and directed us to this street where the houses still show the musket ball marks of 200 years ago.
This house was one of the few still standing from that time, despite major and obvious repairs. It also had one of the few to have a commerative plaque to the heroism of the defenders.
This very ordinary looking church was no doubt also rebuilt after the fighting, and retained its original appearance.
The road system of the city follows the original, and that made it easy to identify the scene of the fighting. The river Huerva which flows through the city to the river Ebro also marks the French and Spanish positions at the start of the siege
The section of the river we visited was in a small city park which offered welcome shade from the blistering heat. Zaragoza is north of of our home in the Costa Blanca, and we had expected it to be cooler. We were not prepared for temperatures of 41 degrees plus. Fortunately it was a very dry heat, but still not really suitable for a walking tour of the city.
As we left the park we spotted this local resident, who had a much more sensible way of dealing with the heat of a Spanish summer afternoon.
More to follow on our short visit to this beautiful city.