Cultura

España Square

The old San Francisco Square - later on Constitución and currently España Square- is the starting point of this route. At the centre, we find one of the first big commemorative monuments erected in Zaragoza: the Monument to the Martyrs of Religion and the Country. Unveiled in October 1904, and, therefore, contemporary to the near Monument to the Justiciazgo, it links the Christian to the patriotic feeling, making reference to past events of the city. It is important to mention previous ornamental and commemorative elements that occupied this central square. Firstly and closely related to what this monument represents, there was the Coso Cross, destroyed during the Independence War, and built to remember the "countless martyrs" who, according to tradition, gave their lives defending their faith at the beginning of the 4th century, and whose rests are worshipped in Zaragoza from then on with those of Santa Engracia. The so-called Princess Fountain or Neptune Fountain, was built in the 19th century and served to supply water to the population, and as memory and homage to Princess Isabel. Even though the fountain was not placed at the center of the square, it was dismantled and replaced by the monument we can see today.

It is curious that, during this first decade of the 20th century, the construction of these works for making the city more attractive and serving as collective memory, were not commissioned to local sculptors but to prestigious artists from other Spanish regions. Agustín Querol and Mariano Benlliure, two of the most famous sculptors of their age, were commanded for the Municipality to contribute to decorate the capital of Aragon. Therefore, the working and promotion opportunities for Aragonese sculptors were quite restricted, until, as the century went by, opportunities were given to the new generations of local artists.

Even today, after more than a hundred years, the Monument to the Martyrs of Religion and the Country continues to be a landmark within the urban layout of Zaragoza, since it is placed at the end of the axis that links this monument to another commemorative work opened in the same dates: the Justiciazgo Monument.