The capital of the province, Zaragoza, is a thriving small city, whose locals, los maños, provide a warm welcome to all visitors who come here. Outside the city, there are a number of worthwhile stopovers and places to visit in the province, the main ones being Sos del Rey Cátolico, Monasterio de Piedra (see the hotel featured below) and Uncastillo.
The name derives from the Roman term Caesaraugusta, after they captured the settlement in the 1st century BC. After the 6th century AD, the city was ruled successively by the Suevi, the Visigoths, and the Moors. From the 12th century to the latter half of the 15th century, it was the capital of Aragón. Later Zaragoza declined in importance after the unification of the kingdoms of Aragón and Castile in 1469 but the city became gained renown throughout Europe during the Peninsular War (1808-1814), when its citizens displayed extreme heroism against the besieging French army.
Its notable architectural landmarks are the La Seo Cathedral, built between the 12th and 16th centuries; the 17th-century El Pilar Cathedral, containing a chapel decorated with frescoes by Spanish masters; the Castillo de la Aljafería, a citadel built originally by the Moors and later the royal residence of the former kingdom of Aragón; and the 16th-century Lonja, or Exchange, a richly decorated Renaissance building.
The presence of the University of Zaragoza founded in 1533, means there is plenty of life and entertainment in town throughout most of the year, but the highlight in the calender is undoubtedly the second week of October. This is when the city's fiestas take place, and a whole dazzling range of cultural events take place. The fiestas are in honour of Nuestra Señora del Pilar.