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Really Moorish; SECOND TO GUIDE TARAZONA, SPAIN.

Byline: BRIDGET MCGROUTHER

Aragon of virtue Tarazona de Aragon is known as the Mudejar City, due to the Moorish design of its buildings, with their colourful tile work. The kings of Aragon lived here during the Middle Ages - and before them the Romans. The old town, with its rabbit warren of medieval streets, has been a site of artistic and historical interest since 1965. Finding religion Tarazona's Gothic Cathedral, with its Mudejar-style lantern tower, belfry and dome was started in the 12th century but not completed until the 16th century. The Santa Maria Magdalena Church also boasts a stunning Mudejar tower that forms the main landmark of the city's skyline.

A load of bull The octagonal former bullring was opened in 1792 and is still well preserved. Originally constructed with 32 three-storey houses overlooking it, these are still inhabited.

Hall of fame The town hall, with its ornamental frieze depicting the triumphal procession of Carlos after he was crowned Emperor, stands on the Plaza de Espana in the older, upper part of the town overlooking the River Queiles. Built in the 16th century on top of the wall, it was originally a warehouse, public grain store and vantage point.

Hanging around The ominous-sounding hanging houses, built on top of natural rock formations, can be found protruding over the old Jewish Quarter, which dates back 500 years. A vibrant community until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, it's still an atmospheric part of the old town with its ancient walls, ornate doorways and narrow alleys.

TARAZONA, Tomato catch-up A number of fiestas and events are celebrated throughout the year but one of the most popular is the Cipotegato. Held from August 27 until September 1, in honour of the Patron Saint San Atilano, a colourful jester runs through the town while onlookers pelt him (and inevitably each other) with rotten tomatoes.

Walking back to happiness Tarazona is on the GR-90, an extensive network of footpaths, hiking trails, bridle-ways and forest tracks, which link up local towns and villages. The Moncayo Mountains have been protected as a National Park since 1978. Picture this The Monastery of Veruela, near Tarazona, is well worth a visit. Dating back to 1145, it was inhabited by Cistercian monks until the land was sold off in 1835. Veruela became a summer retreat for travellers, and the Becquer brothers (one a poet, the other an artist) stayed, putting the monastery on the map. Wine and dine The Monastery of Veruela is home to Aragon's first wine museum, where you can get a flavour of the garnachas. Be sure to drink in the surrounding Campo de Borja's vineyards and bodegas. River city Don't miss a day trip to nearby Zaragoza, a picturesque and historic city on the banks of the River Ebro. Its impressive Roman ruins are now state-of-the-art museums, while many of the brightly patterned basilicas, of domes and spires display Mudejar art. The streets are also filled with chic boutiques and tapas bars. Tell me Moor Tarazona is 55 miles from Zaragoza, which can be reached by high-speed train in 90 minutes from Barcelona or Madrid. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies to Zaragoza from London Stansted, or from Edinburgh or Prestwick via Milan Bergamo or Paris Beauvais. Find out more at www.spain.info/uk, or call 020 7486 8077.

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HISTORIC... The Gothic Cathedral and ancient streets
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:May 27, 2012
Words:563
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