The Aljaferia

Aljaferia Information Page

The Aljaferia is located at Calle de los Diputados, s/n. The Aljaferia is one of the most beautiful palaces in Zaragoza from the 11th century. The Moorish governor of the Taifa kingdom of Sarakosta used it as a summer residence. In 1118 the city of Zaragoza was taken by the Christian king Alfonso I and the palace became the home of the kings of Aragon, who made additions to the palace. When the Catholic Kings reigned in Spain, they used the services of the Mudejar maestro Faraig de Gali to complete a beautiful renovation, blending medieval and Renaissance influences. In 1593 Felipe II hired the engineer from Sienna Tiburcio Spanochi to turn the palace into an impregnable fortress. The reason for this was to assert the power of the king and prevent any revolt in the city.


Today the Aljaferia is a huge palace surrounded by a large moat. There is a beautiful patio built by the Moorish kings and is now called the Patio de Santa Isabel. The Aljaferia was the birthplace of Saint Isabel of Portugal in the year 1271. What is impressive about the patio is that the surrounding building is decorated with polylobed intertwined arches and plaster relieves. In the north portico, there is a small oratory that is shaped like an octagon. This is profusely decorated with plaster art work. There is a niche of the mihrab, the most important portion of the building where prayers were said. There is a very high Moorish ceiling, also beautiful.


The Christian additions to the palace include a grand staircase, a long gallery with windows looking toward the patio, and a Throne Room. The ceilings are made of wood and are gilded and polychromed. On the ground floor there is a small museum that shows examples of Mudejar art used in the palace. This includes examples of the tile work used by the Mudejars. This palace predates the Alhambra palace in Granada and the Alcazar of Sevilla. Its originality probably influenced the building of those other palaces. Today the palace is used as the seat of the Aragonese Parliament.


In 2001 the UNESCO declared the Mudejar art of Aragon as patrimony of humanity, and the Aljaferia is one of the monuments most representative of that art.