Sitting in a complete stranger’s car and enjoying the beauty, easiness and convenience of car sharing, we were making our way to what at that time was a quite anonymous city for us, Zaragoza. When the driver and our travel companion for a couple of hours asked us why we were going to Zaragoza, we honestly said we decided to stop by because was on our way from Barcelona to Bilbao. We didn’t have any expectations and we knew very little – close to nothing – about the city which we found out is a nice way to discover what the places have to offer without building up to much in our heads in anticipation.
One of the reasons why we chose Zaragoza instead of any other city in the area was to do with its past and history. In fact this Spanish city was originally a very important Roman city founded and named after one of the biggest Roman emperors, the famous Caesar Augustus. At that time Dale’s interest for Roman history, facts and influence in other countries outside Italy had increased incredibly, so he didn’t want to miss any opportunity to see and learn more about it everywhere we went.
We found ourselves walking around buildings that even thousands years later, were still showing the Roman Emperor influence for their particular architectural style. We enjoyed seeing the archaeological remains of what once had been the roman theater, the thermal baths and other spectacular buildings and churches that didn’t belong to the same era but were equally interesting and stunning. Within a few hours we were already done with all the historical places of interest in Zaragoza so we thought it was time to get lost in other directions and see what else this city could have shown us.
Bumping Into the Unexpectable
We start to get lost into the side streets of Zaragoza and occasionally we found pieces of street art in awkward locations like on broken walls of a kitchen perhaps that once used to be part of an house not in use anymore and turned into ruins. These sporadic encounters became more frequent and soon we realized we were walking between a little street art paradise. We could even recognize the signature of some famous street art artists like ROA for instance. What a lovely and completely unanticipated surprise!
We became more eager to discover more and more street art that we ended up probably covering all the side streets. We could tell that most of these works were not accidental, we thought some of the street art must have been commissioned, only later we found out the truth.
Walking Into an Open Art Gallery
It was like having déjà vu, it felt just the same as when we were in Grottaglie in Italy. Here in Zaragoza, however, we were admiring the street art done during an International Urban Art Festival called Aslato when a lot of creative activities take place in Zaragoza and the city is flooded with national and international artists busy “transforming” public spaces with the aim at times of recovering spaces left to their own degradation and bringing them back to life with a little bit of creativity. I have to admit that the result of the past editions has been amazing considering the quality of the street art we saw and how it changed what was a common and at times boring corner into something more special and lively. Being a street art lover I enjoying seeing how the artists changed the look of the historic center of Zaragoza without being too invadent (in my opinion) but actually improving its look.
We spent the rest of our time between stopping for coffee every now and then and hunting for every single piece of street art we could possibly find and left Zaragoza with a nice satisfaction feeling that we’d discovered a hidden gem that we would remember not only for its legendary ancient founder Augustus and what he left behind, but also for a nice modern twist that added even more character to the city itself. The only regret we have is that we would have loved to happen to be in Zaragoza when the urban art festival was actually on to watch the street art artists working and creating. Maybe next time, perhaps!