Spain Guide

 
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Zaragoza's 68,000 strong population of university students guarantees a lively nightlife with hundreds of bars and music clubs many of which stay open till dawn. Whatever you want from a night out, you'll find it here there are traditional tapas bars, gay bars, flamenco shows, clubs and some of the oldest and finest restaurants in Spain.

A good place to start your evening is in one of the tapas bars which pepper the narrow side streets of the "casco viejo" old quarter. There are plenty of cheap and cheerful bars to choose from or head for the upmarket La Republicana where you'll pay higher than normal prices for tapas but they're among the best in town.

There are three Irish bars in the city, fast food joints and plenty of international restaurants including Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Mexican. But don't miss the opportunity of dining in one of the city's many traditional restaurants specialising in Aragonese cuisine because it's renowned as being amongst the best in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.

Local specialties include Bacalao al Ajoarriero (cod with garlic and eggs), Pollo a la Chilindron (chicken in a cured ham sauce) and Recao (beans, potatoes and rice). Wash down your meal with one of the world famous fine wines of Aragon such as the reds of Cariñena and Borja. One of the best restaurants is Los Borrachos in the Paseo de Sagasta which attracts an illustrious clientele including King Juan Carlos who favours the Pastel de Puerros y Gambas (leek and prawn pie). You'll also find wild boar and pheasant from the hunting grounds of Aragon on the menu.

 

There are several modern cinemas in the city centre, some of which show European films in their original language. The Teatro Principal is the city's main theatre where both Spanish and foreign plays are performed; more modern and innovative dramas are staged at the Teatro del Mercado. Classical concerts are held regularly at the impressive new Auditorium which also stages other events including flamenco shows and jazz evenings. Flamenco can also be seen at Peña Union de Flamenco.

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El Cantor de Jazz (the Jazz Singer) in Calle Dato is one of the more sophisticated music venues in the city, offering a regular programme of live jazz and blues.

Hardened partygoers head for late night dance spots such as Concierto Sentido, Morrissey's or Bisonte. La Casa del Loco (House of the Madman!) has a packed programme of live concerts and clubs which last all night at the weekends. Boy's disco bar and Cafeteria La Recalada are among the city's many gay haunts.

Fiestas are held almost every month of the year in the city and the villages of the wider province of Zaragoza, offering an ideal opportunity to join in a traditional Spanish knees up. Despite being religious feasts, Spanish fiestas invariably involve a chaotic concoction of processions, musical parades, bullfights, fireworks and dancing in the streets. The most important fiesta in the city is the week long Festival of Our Lady of Pilar in honour of Spain's patron saint. The celebrations take place in the second week of October and include a spectacular offering of flowers to the Virgin by thousands of men, women and children dressed in traditional Aragonese costume. This is also a chance to see the famous local folk dance, called the Jota, performed in the streets.

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