8 things you can’t miss in the Basilica of the Pilar of Zaragoza

Posted September 12, 2015 by zaragozaturismo in History

The Basilica of the Pilar is undoubtedly the most famous monument of Zaragoza. As the Marian pilgrimage place that it is, here comes thousands of visitors and devotees every year. If you want to see this temple on your own, here are some spots that you can not miss.

The Chapel of the Virgin. Here is the column that, according to tradition, brought the Virgin Mary to Zaragoza to encourage James to continue its task of spreading Christianity. Around this column was built the first chapel which was transform over the centuries to the huge basilica we have nowadays. People venerates here the Virgin of Pilar (that means column in Spanish). This image wears a different cape every day of the more than 550 that she has. This capes are donated by institutions and individuals. The oldest is from the eighteenth century and one of the most original is made of paper made by the group Zaragoza Origami. The 2nd, 12th and 20th of each month she has no cape an then can be seen the embossed silver cover which protects the pillar.

Regina Martyrum dome by Goya

Regina Martyrum dome by Goya

The high altar. The altarpiece was made between 1509 and 1515 by Damian Forment in polychrome alabaster, mixing Gothic and Renaissance elements and has the typical oculus of the Aragonese altarpieces. We distinguish three main scenes there: Purification of the Virgin, the Assumption and the Nativity of Our Lady. The altar is he tomb where rests San Braulio, who was bishop of Zaragoza.

Goya Dome. The dome ‘Regina Martyrum’ was painted by Francisco de Goya (1781) using fresco technique with bright and colorful figures. Around the Virgin Mary are Aragonese holy martyrs as San Lorenzo, Santa Engracia, San Lamberto and Santo Dominguito Val among others.

The bombs of the Civil War. On August 3rd, 1936 a plane dropped four bombs on the Basilica del Pilar and they did not explode. This fact was considered miraculous. Three of them fell inside the basilica, of which two are exhibited there and you can see the holes left on the roof. The fourth fell outside raising several cobblestone of the floor forming a cross. A small plaque marks the exact spot where the device stuck.

The crypt. It opens just once a year. On November 1st, to celebrate All Saints festivity, the doors are open for the public to visit it. Here we find the graves of Aragonese General Palafox, and other famous people. If you want to know this place history, do not miss the guided tour “El Pilar como Panteón” of this day.

The tower elevator. Do not hesitate and enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the city from the top of the Tower of San Francisco de Borja.

Choir. It has chairs made of oak from Flanders. The decorative motifs span the huge range of Renaissance. The organ, expanded and remodeled from the s. XVI, has now 4 keyboards, one pedalboard, 80 sets of registers and 6,500 pipes.

Capes at the Pilar Museum

Capes at the Pilar Museum

Pilar Museum. Here you can see the jewelry collection that people have offered to the Virgin. A detailed model of the Chapel of the Virgin and several capes are also exhibited.

Come to our tourist offices to take the brochure of the Basilica or download it from our website.


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