It is one of the monumental jewels of Zaragoza. Of Arab origin, the walls of the Aljafería castle have seen almost a thousand years of history pass by. We are going to tour its rooms and patios.

The Aljafería castle is one of the monumental jewels that the city of Zaragoza possesses  and, as a general rule, it is one of the great surprises that travelers take with them. And it is that this palatial-looking fortress, or this fortified palace, is, neither more nor less, than one of the most splendid Muslim-era buildings in Spain.

The castle of the Aljafería or Palace of Joy

Access to the Golden Room.

Today the Aljafería castle has been largely restored , with different extensions from the Christian era and even with very recent adaptations. We are going to talk about all this in the following paragraphs, but now we will tell you about the origins of the monument that we are going to visit.

The Aljafería castle was built in the second half of the 11th century , so it will soon have a thousand years of history. And it was promoted by Sultan Abu Jafar, which is why it was called “al-jafariyya”.

It soon became known as the Palace of Joy, since its beauty was designed to dazzle everyone who visited it and also to delight those who lived there.

Tour the Aljafería castle today

Coffered ceilings of the Throne Room.

Today, the truth is that it is also a delight to visit the Aljafería castle. An itinerary that plunges into the Muslim courtyards , what was the Golden Hall or the old oratory facing Mecca. All this is partly restored and largely rebuilt, since for decades the palace was a huge ruin.

However, a few decades ago it was decided that the interior of the Aljafería castle would house the Parliament of Aragon.  Thanks to this decision, the entire monument was also enabled for visits.

And when we say everything, we are referring not only to its Muslim part, but also to the buildings from the Christian period, such as the area of ​​the Palace of Pedro IV or the throne room that the Catholic Monarchs ordered to be built, although they never lived here. A visit, therefore, of the most complete.

The Troubadour’s Tower

Troubadour Tower.

In that tour of the interior of the palace there is a really curious place, which, on the other hand, is the oldest of the complex. It is the Torre del Trovador, which is the great internal tower that is distinguished by being the only square.

Well, that tower would have been built in the 9th century, before the Aljafería castle was the great palace of the Taifa kingdom of Zaragoza or, as it was called then, Sarakusta. And not only that. But here a legend was generated that inspired the story of the famous opera Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi.

The Aljafería castle from outside

Aljafería Castle.

The visit to the interior of the Aljafería castle is almost an obligation for all those who travel to Zaragoza for the first time, since this monument, together with the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar, the Cathedral of La Seo or the Roman theater is a of its patrimonial jewels and a spectacular sample of the two millennia of history of the city.

Visiting hours are quite extensive , and are only reduced in the case of important official events, because we must not forget that part of the Aljafería castle is the Cortes de Aragón.

However, for those who already know its interior or those who travel in a hurry and cannot enter, at least it is very interesting to contemplate it from the outside , since it is located in a large park that allows you to surround it to see its military aspect. outside, which is largely due to the wall that was built in the time of Felipe II.

The multiple uses of the Aljafería castle

Dome.

This jewel of the Aragonese heritage was born with the vocation of being the residence of the Sultan of Zaragoza and that it would impress all the emissaries that he received there. Today in the 21st century it is also the seat of power, but now democratic.

But between one time and another, the Aljafería castle has had innumerable uses. It was a Christian palace . And later it served as a prison and seat of the court of the Inquisition. Later it was a military barracks, and it suffered serious damage in the combats of the War of Independence, since French troops entrenched themselves here.

After that, it gradually became a ruin, until its reconstruction was undertaken in the last century , so that we can finally enjoy it today, transformed into an essential tourist visit in the capital tomorrow.

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