It is the oldest. There is a main route with many branches. Its development conditioned the growth of Aragon, and it is lined with beautiful landscapes and ancient and lovely Medieval monuments.
The oldest entrance to Aragon through the Pyrenees was the Roman road that crossed the Palo pass and went down Echo Valley, where the Carolingian monastery of San Pedro de Siresa was built. The important Romanesque church has been conserved; it was the spiritual centre of the primitive Realm. That road, as well as the parallel one through Anso Valley, goes through beautiful spots such as Zurita or la Selva de Oza and picturesque villages like Anso and Echo.
When the Muslim dominion allowed it, the route nowadays considered as the "traditional" one was favoured, because it was the most used, better preserved and well-known. From the more accessible pass of Somport, it goes down Aragon Valley, repopulated around the year 1075 with the creation of Canfranc, Villanua, Castiello and Jaca, and continues towards the west following the course of the river. In Somport the ruins of the Pilgrims Hospital of Santa Cristina, very important at its time, can still be traced, and those of the castle of Candanchu, next to the modern skiing resort with the same name. Canfranc’s railway station is Modernist and of exceptional beauty. In the town of Canfranc we find the first of the Romanesque bridges of the route that is still standing. The linear lay-out of its streets reveals its origin related to the Santiago route. Villanua, at the foot of Collarada peak, conserves its singular ensemble of megalithic monuments from the Bronze Age and interesting caves that can be visited. The construction of the Realm of Aragon was directed from Jaca. The original capital conserves the magnificence of its Medieval past: the Cathedral, first great Romanesque work in the Peninsula (1076), which marked a style of its own, spread later trough the Santiago route, houses an interesting Medieval Art Museum; the clock tower, surviving trace of the Royal Alcazar (citadel); the Benedictine Monastery, which conserves the sarcophagus of Doña Sancha; San Miguel bridge, outside the city; and the Citadel, from the Renaissance, like the Town Hall; the old quarter of the city, full of shops, typical bars and confectioner’s shops; and all the facilities provided by a thriving and modern tourist city.
Very close to the city stand some beautiful Romanesque hermitages, the only remains of the Monasteries of San Adrian de Sasabe, in Borau, and Nuestra Señora de Iguacel, in the Garcipollera Valley. Close as well we find the Romanesque monastery of San Juan de la Peña, built under a big rock. Its origin is Mozarabic and it is related by the legends to the Holy Grail and the foundation of the Realm of Aragon.
Visiting it is essential. Its two churches, the Royal Vault and the original cloister, covered by a rock and conserving beautiful capitals, are outstanding. Next to the monastery, you can visit the slender church of Santa Maria, in Santa Cruz de la Seros, as well as the Lombard church of San Caprasio. Once you have passed Santa Cilia de Jaca and the crossroads of Puente La Reina de Jaca, the traditional route splits up into two branches. Following the two banks of the river, both go through picturesque villages: Berdun, interesting historic spot on the top of a hill; Ruesta, with its lofty castle; and Tiermas, of Roman origin and conserving remains of its walls; as well as Martes, Mianos, Artiedas, Sigües, Esco or Undues de Lerda, all of them with peculiar and beautiful examples of Pyrenean popular architecture, together with Yesa reservoir, which allows to pratise water sports. From here, the route gets into Navarra, one branch through Yesa and the other one through Sangüesa, and connects with the route that goes down from Roncesvalles in the Navarrese town of Puente La Reina. From Puente La Reina of Jaca you can also arrive in Huesca going next to La Peña reservoir, at the foot of the imposing Mallos (large sandstone conglomerates in curious shapes) of Riglos or of Agüero, and through Ayerbe, with its Medieval towers, close to the magnificent Romanesque castle of Loarre, the best preserved of its time in the whole of Spain. Or you can go down to the Ebro Valley going through the Cinco Villas and visiting peculiar villages with Romanesque churches and some castles such as Biel, Luesia, Sos del Rey Catolico, Uncastillo or Ejea de los Caballeros.
Once this main route was established, the ones that crossed the Pyrenees and got to Huesca were developed. The one that enters through Portalet goes down the pretty Tena Valley to Sabiñanigo, next to the Romanesque-Mozarabic churches of Gavin, Olivan, Susin, Busa and Larrede, from which you get either to Jaca or to Huesca. Bielsa tunnel gives access to the best preserved Pyrenean landscapes, the National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido. It is accessible from L’Ainsa, a town that conserves its Medieval lay-out, with a castle, streets, squares and a Romanesque church with a solid tower. From here you can choose to approach the Sanctuary of Torreciudad and Barbastro going through Naval and el Grado, or follow the amazing route that crosses the Natural Park of the Sierra and Canyons of Guara, of unusual beauty, visiting two Lombard-Romanesque monuments, Obarra monastery and the Collegiate church of Roda de Isabena, a very interesting Medieval town. Next to Graus, Barasona reservoir offers multiple possibilities for the tourist. In Barbastro the splendid Renaissance cathedral, the museum and many buildings from the same period recommend a walk through the city. The whole area is famous because of its wines with denominacion de origen (officially certified typical local product) of Somontano.
Then it follows the course of the river Ebro, and connects with the traditional route to Santiago de Compostela in Huesca. One of the branches reaches Barbastro and then Huesca, looking for the route of Puente La Reina, after crossing the area of Litera and passing under the high castle of Monzon. Huesca, Roman city, and Arab afterwards, of great strategical importance, conserves its walls as well as splendid Romanesque works, such as San Pedro el Viejo, or Gothic, like the Cathedral. Besides, its old quarter invites visitors to stroll around streets full of history. Another branch enters Aragon through Fraga, which conserves the remains of a Roman villa, Villa Fortunatus, and several Renaissance buildings. From here you can reach Huesca passing by the Romanesque monastery of Santa Maria de Sijena, with a spectacular façade with fourteen archivolts, and by Sariñena and its lake, of great ornithological richness. Then you can choose between continuing towards Huesca or going back to the valley in the direction of Zaragoza, crossing Alcubierre Sierra, covered with woods of pine trees and sabinas (Juniperus Thurifera). The other option coincides with the national road II, through Monegros steppe, a landscape of wild beauty and biological importance because of its singularity. Once in Zaragoza, the route follows the course of the river along the fertile Ebro banks to Tudela. Zaragoza offers the pilgrim all the facilities of a big city, together with a cultural heritage 2.000 years old: Roman, in its walls; Muslim, in the Aljaferia; Medieval, in La Seo; Mudejar, in San Pablo, San Miguel and la Magdalena; Renaissance, in la Lonja, Santa Engracia and its many palaces; Baroque and closely related to the Virgin’s worship in el Pilar; Neoclassical; Modernist; Contemporary... everything together leaving no place for weariness.
Or it follows the Monegros route after visiting Caspe, next to the big Mequinenza reservoir, a fishing paradise, at the foot of a castle. Another route coming from the Ebro delta arrives in Caspe as well, going through Calaceite and Alcañiz and connecting again with the river in the Cistercian monastery of Rueda. From Sagunto and Valencia, the route follows the course of the tiver Turia to Teruel, a city declared World’s Heritage by the UNESCO. It is the best example of the Mudejar art, with the outstanding cathedral, with its dome and coffered ceiling, and the slender and beautiful towers of San Pedro, San Martin and el Salvador. An alternative route branches off towards Castilla, through the wooded Sierra of Albarracin and passes under the Arab walls of this picturesque town, whose visit is highly recommended. The route that goes to Zaragoza follows the Roman road parallel to the river Jiloca, passing by the Roman bridges of Calamocha and Luco de Jiloca. This is a good occasion to taste Teruel’s ham, with denominacion de origen (officially certified typical local product). In Daroca, impressive Mudejar city with neverending walls, a road leads to Zaragoza through Campo de Cariñena, where an excellent wine with denominacion de origen is produced. Another road takes us to Calatayud, with Arab name and full of Mudejar monuments; from this area, producer of wines with denominacion de origen, we arrive in Castilla through Soria or in Zaragoza through an excellent motorway. So, the Santiago route in Aragon comprises three main routes with different origins in which there are plenty of references to Santiago, and many paths that make the pilgrim discover the varied landscape and the ancient cultural heritage of Aragon
If you want to extend your information on Aragon you can begin crossing another interesting route is the Mudejar, Patrimony of the Humanity, also you can extend your cultural knowledge on Aragon examining its municipal and institutional heraldry without forgetting, of course, some of its emblematics figures as Saint George Pattern of Aragon also book of Aragon.
The information will not be complete without a stroll by its three provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca and his shines, with shutdown in some of its spectacular landscapes like Ordesa, the Moncayo or by opposition the Ebro.
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Aragon is like that. Santiago Routes in Aragon. Province of Huesca, Teruel, Zaragoza, Aragon, mudejar, Romanico, English, Nature, maps, Asociacion Cultural Aragon Interactivo Multimedia. Spain. Aragon es asi.
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