Zaragoza to Belchite

Zaragoza to Belchite

NO. It's Zaragosa Not Zaragoza.

The most interesting thing about leaving the region of Catalonia and traveling into Aragon, is it feels different. It feels older, bullfighting is still legal, churches follow a roman, gothic and moorish style, the culture is more about traditions and less about tourism.

Zaragoza is the fifth largest city in Spain. Barcelona is the second and literally millions of people bigger. The people the make up Barcelona are a melting pot of culture. 

Zaragoza was a good break from the "scene:" fight for independence of Catalan republic through protests, referendums, politics... and a step into a different cultural experience. The people of the Aragon region are not in the midst of claiming independence, actually this weekend was the beginning of the annual Fiestas Del Pilar, honoring the Patron Sant, Virgen del Pilar.

This is festival of music, flowers and culture. Many people gather in the streets to listen to an array of music that ranges from classical flamenco to rap. Vendors sold everything from goat hides to traditional jamon along the river Ebro, that runs through the city.

I had smoked jamon for the first time... As a almost life long vegetarian, I can say it was a peak moment in my transition to eating meat. I decided to end my vegetarianism at the beginning of this last year to prep myself for the food in Spain. Incorporating meat into my diet was very difficult at first, there were many more options, and flavor profiles I simply had not experienced. This was one of those moments where everyone of my taste buds lit up with excitement-- It was enchantingly delicious. 

After an amazing night experiencing the local scene in the tubo, a small alleyway that runs through the city lined with pinxots bars and night clubs. We left the next morning for the ghost town of Belchite. 

Belchite is a memorial of the Spanish civil war. The town experienced a great battle between August 24th and September 7th in 1937. Belchite was abandoned in 1938. We were lead through the city by a someone who's parents had lived in the town through it's destruction. She showed us the places her parents had lived, played and attended school. The town remained silent. The chorus of her voice and the rocks beneath our shoes broke into the silence.

I traveled ahead of the group, trying to capture the silent emptiness that only an abandoned city possesses. As I entered the cathedral at the end of the city, I found silence. I felt the heat on my face as I entered the destroyed cathedral, it had hardly any roof left. After I kicked the rubble and shot some photos, I emerged from the cathedral. I saw my group coming to meet me in the distance. The first thing the guide announced to the group was:

"This cathedral is only to be viewed from the outside. It could collapse at any moment."

(I could have become a ghost, I thought.)