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Zaragoza History, Spain

Zaragoza History – The Romans

Zaragoza was founded by the Roman legions of Augustus in the year 24 BC and took its name from the emperor Caesar Augustus. It had a population of 30.000 and was very well connected with the rest of the Roman Empire by a network of roads. It also had a sewage system and baths, markets and temples, as well as a 6.000 seat capacity theatre, making it an important local cultural and trade center. On 380 AC, the synode of Zaragoza took place in the city.

Zaragoza History – The Moors

The Arabic populations started arriving in Spain in the sixth century and they took control of Zaragoza in 714, naming it Saraqusta. It soon became the biggest Arab controlled city in Northern Spain and in 1018 it was declared a taifa, an independent Muslim state ruled by an emir. During the period when the taifas flourished the emirs used to compete against each other for both political and cultural supremacy, this being one of the reasons for which the Moor cultural legacy is so important in the Iberic peninsula. The Aljaferia Palace stands proof for this, as it is a perfectly conserved moorish architectural structure that still dominates the city. Moorish architecture is also frequently visible among the Valencia Sights.The Zaragoza taifa lasted for exactly a century, until the last sultan was forced to sign an alliance with the Christian Aragonese and the Arabs started fighting battles for the Aragonese.

Zaragoza History – The Aragonese Era

Immediately after its conquest, Zaragoza was made capital city of the Kingdom of Aragon and was directly involved in many controversial cases related to the Spanish Inquisition. St. Vincent, one of the Church leaders of the time, was highly concerned with ethnical purity and warned the population of Zaragoza not to have sexual intercourse with the Muslims or the Jews. He went as far as to attempt a very sophisticated process of segregation for which he got the Pope’s approval, and his personal crusade against the Jews remains one of the most extensive and well organized campaigns of the Middle Ages. Nevertheless, the architectural legacy of this period is important to this day in Zaragoza, its best example standing in the central square of the city, Basilica del Pilar.

Zaragoza History – 20th Century

Lasting three years (1936 – 1939), the Spanish Civil War took a heavy toll on civilian communities throughout the country, Zaragoza making no exception. It was heavily bombed and it witnessed many conflicts during the three-year period. General Franco took over the country and, until his death in 1975, Spain was under a very heavy fascist rule that kept most towns from flourishing, all of which is visible in Madrid History too. However, there was an industrial boom in the second half of the 20th century which caused the growth of population in Zaragoza, which almost doubled in numbers between 1960 and 1980. It now reaches 680.000 inhabitants and is a key city in Spain's economy.

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