Zaragoza

Zaragoza with your dog

Zaragoza is the city of four cultures. The flavours of the peoples who have inhabited its streets over 2,000 years of history ooze out from them: Iberians, Romans, Arabs and Christians. Zaragoza is also a modern city which played host to EXPO 2008, devoted to water and sustainable development. The city thrives beside the River Ebro and the surrounding area offers many opportunities for canine entertainment. 

I was in Zaragoza in October 2018. I was really keen to see the Our Lady of the Pillar – apart from being the city’s icon and patron saint, she is also the Patroness of the Hispanic Peoples. Unfortunately, I left disappointed as we dogs are not allowed to enter the basilica however well-behaved we are, and so I had to make do with going for a wander around the wonderful square where it’s located.  

If you are travelling with your human family, they’re going to have to take it in turns to see the image which, despite its importance, only measures 36.5 centimetres and safeguards 10 different crowns and gowns from all eras and in all colours in its closet. Although I wasn’t able to enter, I got the chance to pray before a replica and ask them to look after all little dogs, and for us to be able some day to enter the basilica and see the real one. 

Zaragoza is a complex city for sightseeing with your human family. There are no monuments or cultural places that allow families to enter with their pets. Well, actually, there are, but we have to be carried in.We can visit the following places provided our owner carries us in their arms: the Palace of Montemuzo, the Patio de la Infanta Courtyard and the Museum of Lanterns and Crystal Rosary. I only weight seven kilos and my human companion still gets tired – imagine if someone insisted on entering with a larger breed. 

ALJAFERÍA GARDENS

We can visit the Torreón, the current tourist office, and also wander around the gardens and surrounding area of Aljafería, which is an 11th century castle that is a World Heritage Siteand was once the seat of the Inquisition, now housing Las Cortes de Aragón. A night-time visit to the castle when it is lit up is beautiful. I had a lot of fun running around its gardens, although it’s a pity we weren’t allowed to enter the Aljafería itself to contemplate the Throne Room, the Patio de Santa Isabel Courtyard and the tower which inspired Verdi to compose his famous opera ‘Il Trovatore’.

From there we headed directly to El Tubo, which is the commercial district and centre for the city’s bars. We had another little disappointment there too, because there aren’t many bars or other premises where we are welcome. Indeed, the places that allowed well-behaved dogs asked us to advertise them, because they could get a fine if the authorities found out. And why is that, we asked.  We got a rather schizophrenic response:  the municipal bylaw allows premises where food is served to decide whether we pets can enter or not, but regional regulations ban this. 

So, if you’re planning to come to Zaragoza, your human families will need to take into account the fact that it’s blisteringly hot in summer, while the north wind blows in winter, when you’ll freeze to death on the outdoor terraces. Only one option remains, which is that tourists travelling with their pet should try and visit during the few months of the year when it’s neither too hot nor too cold. 

Paradoxically, there is a  very wide range of hotels in Zaragoza that allow families with pets. I stayed at one belonging to the Ibis chain.

A TAXI ESPECIALLY DEVISED FOR FAMILIES WITH DOGS

To get around, I suggest you use Taxiguau, which is a service operating in various cities where taxi drivers who are also dog owners and understand the needs of those travelling with a pet, allow us in their vehicles. Travelling with them is great – they have a cover so we don’t chew the upholstery and we’re also given the kind of biscuits we like. 

We pets are allowed to travel on the Zaragoza Tram in a pet carrier. What’s more, we can be carried in our owner’s arms in the last carriage, with a single dog weighing over 10 kilos on the floor! The regulations are very outdated. For instance, we dogs are allowed to travel on the Barcelona Tram outside rush hours provided we are on a leash and wearing a muzzle – no problem.

More things: the buses in Zaragoza are not fitted out for pets - we are not allowed to enter (except in a pet carrier). It would be a good idea if the people in charge were made aware of initiatives such as that in Palma, where municipal buses already have routes on which we are allowed to travel if we are on a leash and wearing a muzzle.

GREEN SPACES THAT CAN BE ENJOYED

The best thing about Zaragoza is that it boasts a large network of green spaceswhere we can go for a walk and, at certain times of the day, even be let off the leash. Check this link for a list of places where we can wander freely and the timetables (from 21:00 to 9:00 between 1stMay and 31stOctober and from 20:00 to 9:00 the rest of the year).

For me, one of the best walks we had was when I was buzzing about the Luis Buñuel Water Park, a legacy from Expo 2008 devoted to the environment.

I loved the sculpture known as the Soul of the Ebro, by Jaume Plensa. It’s huge! It’s 12 metres high and 7.5 metres wide, and is a stone made up of white letters  that encourages reflection. I bet many of you took a selfie there during Expo.

Despite all this and with a little organisation, Zaragoza is always a good option for mutts. It’s also the perfect base for visiting Albarracín and the Castle of Peracense (in Teruel) or Alquézar, in Huesca. That’s what I did, so check for my report in this blog.