The vast territory of Aragon (47,724 km2, 1,200,000 inhabitants spread over three provinces) vaunts numerous tourism opportunities which have considerably benefited from its current infrastructure and facilities. For example, there is the "Red de Hospederias de Aragon", an accommodation network comprised of seven establishments including the recently opened hotel by the San Juan de la Peña Monastery in Huesca.
Zaragoza enjoys a remarkably varied landscape. Mountains cut by valleys in the drylands, Pyrenees spurs leading the way to Huesca, the great Moncayo promontory with the beautiful Cisterciense de Veruela Monastery lying at its feet, the Cinco Villas field crops, the bleak plateaus of Monegros, the fertile valleys of Gallego, Jalon and Jiloca, and the plains stretching out between La Almunia, Cariñena and Belchite. And among all this contrast lies Zaragoza with over 700,000 habitants: a first class industrial, university, religious and cultural centre whose main emblem is the symbol of Aragon: the Pilar basilica, house to the patron saint of Spain. Its other attractions include the majestic Arab palace called the Aljaferia, the imposing La Seo cathedral, the countless museums ...
And of course cities such as Calatayud, Tarazona, Daroca, Sos del Rey Catolico, Uncastillo boast a wealth of contrasting monuments. Natural paradise can be found at the Monasterio de Piedra, a monastery lying in a highly unique and picturesque corner of Spanish territory.
The landscape and cultural offer is completed with adventure sports, hiking and thermal tourism with magnificent spa facilities.
Huesca is a land of lofty mountains situated in the craggy area of the Central Pyrenees with wonderful valleys opening to fertile plains in the south. Its artistic wealth is reflected in its temples and castle remains, where nature and art interlink in serene harmony. The valleys of Echo, Anso, Canfranc, Tena, Broto, Chistau, Pineta, Benasque, the impressive Ordesa National Park and Monte Perdido, the splendid environment of the Panticosa Spa, all provide the traveller with the opportunity to explore beech, fir, oak and hazelnut woods, peculiar glacier Pyrenean lakes known as ibones, green and sunny pastures or to challenge themselves through practicing adventure sports in its ravines and gullies, mountain peaks and trails. All forms of skiing can be enjoyed in winter at the great resorts of Astun, Candanchu, Formigal, Panticosa and Cerler. The capital’s treasures include its gothic cathedral and the Romanesque cloister of San Pedro el Viejo in Jaca, with its fine Romanesque cathedral. And yet we have to visit San Juan de la Peña, Santa Cruz de la Seros, San Pedro de Siresa, Roda de Isabena, the small churches at Serrablo and the Loarre cathedral - unequalled examples of Romanesque architecture and the result of the Camino de Santiago pilgrim route through Aragon, beautiful city centres such as those at Ainsa and Alquezar, the Pirenarium Theme Park in Sabiñanigo... the list of tourism and heritage opportunities in Huesca is almost endless.
Teruel boasts exuberance and the surprising diversity of its nature: from the Serranias de Albarracin mountains to the soft and gentle plains and olive trees in the region of Alcañiz; from the remote peaks of Maestrazgo to the apparent calm of Bajo Aragon which violently explodes during the indescribable uproar of Easter Week in the towns of Ruta del Tambor and Bombo. The city of Teruel is the Mudejar capital, with its exquisitely detailed architecture protected as a World Heritage site. Albarracin, with its wild landscape, is riddled with windy streets and reminiscent hidden corners. The picturesque landscape is constantly sustained by the splendid edifices which abound in towns such as Alcañiz, Cantavieja, Mirambel, Iglesuela del Cid and Rubielos de Mora: their wealth of historic buildings is astounding.
Skiing at the resorts of Valdelinares and Javalambre, adventure sports and spa tourism complete the tourist offer which has recently been further enriched by the inauguration of the Dinopolis Theme Park near the capital.
Aragon is one of the Spanish provinces with both a rich monumental heritage and a high cultural level. It is an example of live and permanent history which is reflected in the artistic, civil and religious works of various eras and cultures: prehistoric, Iberian, Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical, modernist... all the way up to the avant-garde era of the millennium which has just come to a close.
With regard to nature, Aragon could be described as a huge natural space. Both extensive and varied, it is rich in its geology, flora and fauna. Valleys, mountain ranges, lakes and steppes all form part of a landscape which is truly alive.
An excellent communication network allows for easy access to the Pyrenees Mountains with the opening of the Zaragoza-Nueno motorway on the very slopes of the Monrepos pass.
Its two large tunnels leave you close to Jaca and Sabiñanigo. Furthermore, the high-speed AVE train links the city of Zaragoza with two of the most important cities in Spain: Madrid and Barcelona. Other important roads include the recently opened Mudejar motorway which links Zaragoza to Valencia, the Madrid motorway and the Barcelona and Bilbao dual carriageways.
Aragon also boasts an outstanding hotel network with its rural tourism offering some of the best accommodation of its type in Spain. Snow conditions in Aragon are currently excellent. Important investments have been made in infrastructure with recent improvements leading to a record number of skiers. Every type of skiing is available and can be coupled with the possibility of ice-skating, crosscountry skiing, ski-launched paragliding, snow-boarding, snow-biking and … away from the snow an endless list of adventure sports awaits the intrepid visitor: mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, abseiling, mountain biking, white water rafting, paragliding, hang gliding and micro-lighting. Aragon boasts the largest and best hiking network in Spain with over 8,000 km of signed routes. And we mustn’t forget that waterskiing can be enjoyed in numerous lakes, rivers and reservoirs, or that sailing, horse-riding, golf, shooting and fishing are also on offer.
Finally, the local festivals, craftwork ... and gastronomy. Fruit, pulses, sweets, vegetables, salads, top quality olive oil, with local farm products masterfully cooked in great restaurants. Aragonese sucking lamb, Teruel ham, the magnificent wines of Somontano, Cariñena, Calatayud and Campo de Borja all with Designation of Origin. Eating in Aragon is always a pleasure. Come and visit, Aragon is an unforgettable experience.
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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Tourism | Mudejar | Goya | Alphabetical Index | Thematic
An urban and historical miracle is Albarracín. It offers the visitor the charm of the ancient architecture of an unlikely city that surprises and attracts us.
After the lyrical admiration of what our eyes see there, the desire to find an explanation to this city created by geography and by man is born that the times have kept us intact. The traveler finds himself before Albarracín suddenly. After a bend in the road that leaves from Teruel, it crosses the plains of Cella and after passing the town of Gea de Albarracín, it goes tightly between mountains to continue winding alongside the Guadalaviar river. Then a modest plain, wedged between hills, proceeds to meet the city. this is announced first with a canvas of walls and towers crowning a high mountain. When, at the end of the Vega, the road turns fast, after a sharp curve that wraps around the foot of that high fortified hill, the traveler comes across with surprise the urban group of Albarracín, squeezed behind that severe and rugged hill. Only now in front of the motley hamlet are the strong walls and tall towers that crown the hill to be understood. First you get to the <<Barrio>> you can see from the front, their houses hanging from the rocks. Later the road has to pierce the rocky mass to continue its route; the urban area has been left above on the rock that the river surrounds after having formed the most laborious of meanders. It is this rocky peninsula that the river carved by digging a continuous and deep sickle, Albarracín was built. It was first called Santa María de Oriente by Arab historians and geographers and later Santa María de Ben Razín, the name of a tribe of Berber origin that ruled the city for three long centuries.
That secure redoubt was the head of an entire region that finds its natural center there. History and geography explain to those who travel Albarracín the reason for those strong walls that are so well planted in a rugged landscape of rocky hills and bare rocks. They protect an impressive urban center for its ancient authenticity and for the miracle of its maintenance throughout the centuries. The narrow and winding streets are like a changing scenery. Squares, corners, small openings, allow us to enjoy unsuspected, original and attractive perspectives. And all this in the middle of an austere and impressive landscape of rocky mountains split by the Guadalquivir river that borders all that wonder, embedded in a deep gash. This moat, by creating such a strong natural position, explains to us how man took advantage of that secluded place to organize his urban life in insecure medieval times.
Today Albarracín is a pleasure for those who only want to contemplate a picture of times gone by. There is synthesized a brave region of very marked personality. We all call this unique natural region <<the Sierra>>. It is made up of two large mountain ranges with peaks between 1,500 and 2,000 meters high. Between them, narrow and short valleys were formed, furrowed by the waters of the Guadalaviar River and its main tributaries, the Tagus, the Júcar and the Cabriel. These valleys and the gorges through which the rivers made their way were always the natural paths through which the men of the sierra came to Albarracín, making it the political, religious and economic center of all that isolated region. Its difficult geography is only enjoyed and understood by traveling around the region.
If from Albarracín the traveler advances only six kilometers along the road that follows these gorges, narrow and very deep, to the point that sometimes he does not know where the road will follow, he will reach the Tramasaguas crossing. Two routes will open there. Then they fork a few kilometers higher, forming like the branches of a tree whose trunk is the Guadalquivir river and the road that runs alongside it. This, first, crosses the charming Valley of Tramacastilla where the fruit trees of its fertile plain are the last to admit the mountain climate. The fertile orchards border the pine forests that cover the slopes of the mountains. Then, beyond Tramacastilla, the road goes up to Cillas del Cobo, Guadalquivir and Griegos through mountains and pine forests on the one hand; on the other, it reaches Noguera to penetrate the closed pine forests and green meadows of El Puerto. The highest peaks of the Sierra are in these places. The Caimodorro reaches almost 2,000 meters and the Muela de San Juan at 1,900 meters of altitude. In this part of the Sierra the most extensive hydrographic network in Spain is formed. Towards the North the Gallo is born and runs that will go to Molina and the Tagus. Some waters from the Albarracín lands also flow north to the Jiloca River after crossing the moorlands of Monterde, Pozodon and Ródenas. It is a whole lateral region of the Sierra that connects us with Castilian lands of Molina and with the nearby Aragonese region of the Jiloca Valley, the region of <<the River>> for the Serranos, different from << the Sierra >> for its economy, by its customs and by the character of its men. The other part of the Sierra de Albarracín is reached by following the Royuela River, a tributary of the Guadalquivir, from Tramasaguas. You will arrive at the open and picturesque <<Val de Royuela>>, as it was always called in the documents in the Carmelitas Monastery of Nuestra Señora del Val de Royuela, today in ruins. In this place, the road also forks and reaches Colomarde and Frías, rich in its pine forests and meadows that extend towards the Vega del Tajo, which is a high valley, where this river originates. It is limited by the foothills of the Muela de San Juan and the Cerro de San Felipe, the latter being already on the border with the Serranía de Cuenca, an extension of our Sierra de Albarracín. Near the Vega del Tajo in another high valley, that of Valtablado, still now the land of the Albarracín Community, the Júcar is born and not far away the Cabriel, its main tributary. This river forms along another picturesque valley, the so-called Val de Cabriel, a land of pastures and pines, but which the action of man has also made land of work in great stretches. In addition to this part of the Serranía, from Royuela, another road leads to Terriente, following at the beginning the Garbe river that irrigates the serene and calm valley of Royuela. Past Terriente, the Vallecillo is reached at the end of Val de Cabriel and further east an abrupt region extends, imposing for its huge barracks around Javalón, the Cerro de las Brujas. To the north of this mountain is the town of Javaloyas, and between Javalón and the lands of Valencia, to the east, a rough and cold moorland defiantly extends in which, protected in the bends of the hills, are several villages of our community. North of the Javalón towards Gea and Bezas de Albarracín grows the most picturesque of the pine forests, the famous Rodeno, where the pines are born between the pistachios of the red sandstones of the Triassic. Offer there an unforgettable landscape that was already a prehistoric sanctuary, as its various groups of cave paintings remind us.
In all this wild region of the mountain villages settle. In total twenty-two municipalities. They are of very few inhabitants, some formed by simple hamlets of twenty to forty households. They are all part of the Albarracín Community, a political-administrative entity that is still standing. Such a curious institution can only be understood by history and by the forced defense of the mountains and passes that have been used in common for centuries by the inhabitants of this land. Today as always the <<serranos>>; They live the same way our Ignacio de Asso described them 300 years ago. Pine forests and livestock, more than agriculture, support them. Almost all the pastures in the country were exploited in common and a rich cattle ranch always gave this land the basis of its wealth. The villages of the Community and became independent municipalities after the hazardous nineteenth century and their goods today are consumed mainly to support a heavy and their goods today are consumed mainly to support a heavy and absurd municipal administration that should be simplified for the good of the country. Albarracín was always the head of all this mountain land, full of natural beauties, extensive pine forests, thick and fragrant junipers; of green meadows; of smiling valleys, cool fountains and crystal clear streams. In the lands of Albarracín those furrows of water begin that bear names that will sound throughout the geography of Spain: Tajo, Júcar, Cabriel, Guadalquivir or Turia, Jiloca, Gallo.
The haughty and dominating peaks of its lands give it its strong personality against Castile, Aragon and Valencia. Not far from Javalón is the hill of the three kingdoms, where the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon and Valencia have limits. Haughty geographical enclave, the geography of Albarracín, <<the Sierra>> simply for its inhabitants, will explain the history of <<The City>> par excellence, as it was called that way among the mountain people of Albarracín, until not many years ago. Little by little it is ceasing to be the head of the region, because on the one hand communications, on the other the political and administrative reforms have made it decline and lose the rank and meaning that tradition maintained until a few years ago. Today there is no explanation for the astonished visitor its powerful fortifications, its cathedral, the prestige of its Judge who inherited the tradition maintained until the Decree of Nueva Planta in the 18th century, that the appeals will end there. Today Albarracín no longer has a bishop. Not even the title of Apostolic Administrator that the Bishop of Teruel inherited with his functions, sounds in the documents of his curia. The trial judge was abolished a few years ago. It is no longer the market to which the serranos descended to buy and sell. Albarracín ceased to be "the city" as it had been in the years prior to the last war. It only has its history and the beauty of its urban area, the strong impression of its monuments; what he has preserved of his artistic heritage, not much, due to the lack of culture and decadence in which he lives. And its landscape. All this together, taking care of it with love, will be a treasure that can be added to its natural sources of wealth and will improve the life of the inhabitants of the region.
Albarracín will also always have its peculiar romantic and very personal history within the great History of Spain.
The geographical personality of the Sierra, different from the Castilian Plateau and the mountains and plains of the Levant, configures its original history.
The first vestiges of man's past in the lands of Albarracín are offered by the cave paintings of the Rodeno pine forest, preserved in twelve covachas and rocky shelters of the Triassic sandstones. Some of these paintings are suggestive of beauty and represent one of the oldest examples of human art.
Around 2000 BC, knowledge of agriculture began to reach the mountain valleys together with the domestication of animals. In Frías de Albarracín we are offered the oldest farming village that we know in the Sierra. It was settled fortified on the hill that rises next to the current town.
Then, with the invasion of the Celts that Indo-Europeanized the Peninsula from the 9th century to BC, the people of the Lobetans were formed over our country. They had to occupy what is today the Community and on its agricultural and livestock economy with the collective use of most of the land and forests and meadows, the ethnic and administrative economic base on which the inhabitants still live largely of the earth.
Roman times have left no more interesting traces. The sierra was sung in its forests and fresh fountains by Marcial, the great poet born in Bilbilis, today depopulated near Calatayud. Its forests and iron mines were exploited and even a curious decorated ceramic pottery existed near Bronchales. The wood from the mountains was the basis of these industrial exploitations of Roman capitalism, apart from which the indigenous people of the Lobetans lived their lives as farmers and ranchers similar to the current one and in not very different towns.
The insecurity of the end times of the Roman Empire, the harshness of life to which everything is reduced in Spain, after the invasion of the Germans and the struggles of their groups among themselves and against the Byzantines, began to value these isolated and easily defended lands. Where today is Albarracín a group of people had to be fortified around a church consecrated to Santa María. During the Arab invasion, the rock that forms the river sickle was a unique refuge for what remained of culture. In search of security, the economic and political capital of the entire region and the surrounding regions is organized there.
When the first Arabic texts describe Muslim Spain, that wild and well fortified urban nucleus is called Santa María De Oriente, to differentiate it from another Santa María de Poniente or Osanova towards the Algarve.
Santa Mará continued to be the name of the capital and of the political center in which, the Ben Razín, a Berber tribe that arrived with the Islamic invasion, established their might as proof of their tolerance with the Mozarabic Christian population grouped around a church and its bishop who was still ruling his flock at the time of the Cid Campeador, according to the General Chronicle. It is significant that the only tombstone from Albarracín to date is that of a Mozarabic.
Then the Santa María de Oriente from the 8th to the 10th centuries, will be called Santa María de los Ben Razín in the 11th century and in the 12th when the dynasty of this name brings that place to its greatest splendor. From 1160 on, it will be Santa María de Albarracín when it passed into the hands of a Christian sovereign, Don Pedro Ruiz de Azagra, who will maintain the independence of that small state that until 1379 the King of Aragon will not be able to permanently incorporate it into his kingdom. . Don Pedro Ruiz de Azagra was a Navarrese knight who maintained a mountain lordship proclaiming himself << Vasallo de Santa María and Señor de Albarracín >>, to emphasize his independence from the kings of Aragon and Castile with the advance of the reconquest they ended up enveloping this tiny independent state without conquering it. To better sustain its independence, it populated the land mainly with Navarrese, whose surnames still remain in the Sierra. The vassals of the Señorío de Albarracín supported this attitude with vigor and skill. On more than one occasion with fierce heroism. A. D. Pedro Ruiz de Azagra, III independent lord, who victoriously faced the King of Aragon Jaime I, forcing him to withdraw from the siege that he placed in Albarracín. He was succeeded by his son Álvaro Pérez de Azagra, IV sovereign of Albarracín, married to the Infanta Doña Inés de Navarra, a kingdom with which Albarracín always maintained close relations. Upon the death of Mr. Álvaro Pérez de Azagra, the lordship of Albarracín was inherited with full independence by his eldest daughter Teresa Álvarez de Azagra, who was married to Mr. Juan Núñez de Lara <<el Mayor>>. This brought the country out of its discreet neutrality between Castile and Aragon to throw it into the whirlwind of one of the most adventurous and most stormy lives of our entire Middle Ages. It temporarily lost its status occupied by Pedro III of Aragon, after a fierce siege of the city boldly surprised by the king of Aragon. But a few years later, Jaime II also temporarily handed him over to Juan Núñez de la Lara <<el Joven>>, while his mother, Doña Teresa Álvarez de Azagra, was still alive. He returns to the hands of Aragon, but not for long, because before being proclaimed sovereign, with the same titles that his lords always had, the Infante Don Fernando, son of Alfonso IV of Aragon and of Doña Leonor de Castilla, Alfonso's sister XI. He was assassinated in Burriana in the same chamber of the king in 1359 by his brother Pedro IV of Aragon, those of Albarracín remained faithful to his wife, a sweet Infanta of Portugal named Doña Ines. First, it was alleged that he was waiting for the birth of a son who did not arrive, because perhaps it was only trickery by the mountain people not to surrender to the king of Aragon, heir to the state after the terrible fratricide of Burriana. They then openly faced the King, not recognizing him as heir. Doña Inés, attracted by the King of France and Navarre, Philip IV the Fair, against the opinion of her vassals who so romantically defended her, left incognito for Navarre, with a secret envoy from the King of France with the name of troubadour rather than of spy, called in the chronicles <<Arnaldo, son of Arnaldo de Francia>>. In Borja the envoys of Pedro IV managed to identify them and have them. We keep the order by which the king, who was in Cullera, sent them to the castle of Luna and there then he beheads Arnaldo de Francia and takes the sovereign of Albarracin to Huesca.
Echoing this original and brave History, Albarracín had a rich monumental artistic heritage that is still worth visiting. Besides the City, all the villages with their churches and mansions had something to teach and worthy of being admired. In recent years so much has been lost that many peoples no longer have anything worthy of admiration. Albarracín still offers its great walls that support and reinforce the strong natural position in which the city sits. the oldest enclosure was grouped within the rocky meander crowned by the stately Castle. In this space the Christian and later Arab city was sheltered, around the large and high rock that stands in the center. Attached to this rock and on it, was the military residence, rather than a palace, of the lords of Albarracín, first Moors and then Christians. At his feet were the Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace. The church of Santa María is located towards the most closed end of the sickle that served as a natural background. All this part of the City is crossed by a street that began at the Puerta de Hierro located where today the street of the Cathedral starts in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. A strong walled enclosure defended this part of the City, called the Engarrada. An alignment of the wall and a round Angle turre still remain from it. It looks good when visiting the nearby picturesque Portal del Agua. Outside the walls of La Engarrada and Puerta de Hierro, a suburb was formed. Opened at the beginning, it was a market around the space for their free security that the fortified gate of the city required. This free space over time was the current Plaza de Ayuntamiento, today the center of the entire urban area. Today, three sides of the aforementioned square are occupied by the Town Hall, built in the 16th century, probably by Pierres Vedel, judging by its layout. Still in 1627, Juan de Ezpeleta and Pedro Fortet were working on this huge house, building the city's prisons on the ground floor. Some graceful houses close this charming square of varied and moving lines, in which the wooden galleries and the daring balconies, some of them open on the same corner, adapt to the irregular start of the narrow streets that start from it.
The entire city of Albarracín offers us a singular attraction with its funny streets and its tall and diverse houses, each one with a different character and layout. There are none monumental among them, but they offer a unique set of urban architecture in Aragon and one of the most suggestive that can be admired in Spain.
In this variegated set of buildings, the City Hall already mentioned, the Episcopal Palace and the Cathedral stand out. The current work of the Episcopal Palace, always on its old site, the only Palace that recognized the Albarracín jurisdiction, dates back to the 17th century and was built by Bishop Miguel Jerónimo Fombuena. In 1705 to 1728, Bishop Juan Navarro Gilaberte continued the works by putting his coat of arms on the baroque façade not exempt from grace, which closes a small courtyard. His nephew and successor in the miter Juan Francisco Navarro Salvador and Gilaberte must have finished them, as his coat of arms appears on the facade of the palace, today very damaged.
Next to the Episcopal Palace and with internal communication with it, is the consecrated El Salvador Cathedral; Its factory was built in the early years of the 16th century on a previous church that must have been romantic and partly Gothic. In 1532 Bishop Jofre de Borja asked for and granted thanks for the work. Then the construction continued throughout the 16th century and Pierres Vedel, the great Picard architect who lived and died in Albarracín, must have finished them. His children proclaim that <<among the heroic works that their father carried out is the Toilet of the City of Albarracin>>. The graceful cathedral tower is the work of Alonso de Barrio Dajo and was contracted in 1549. Inside, the best thing the cathedral offers is the carved wooden altarpiece of the main altar, the work of the great mazonero master Cosme Damian Bas. He was a sculptor who followed the best Aragonese imaginers of the time, especially Gabriel Joli; we know he hired him in 1565.
In the Cathedral, in a side chapel of the main nave, entering to the left, there is a wooden altarpiece dedicated to Saint Peter attributed to Gabriel Joli, who was previously in Santa María. A work of great nerve and excellent workmanship, its layout runs very close to that of Bas's altarpiece that occupies the main altar and for a long time we have thought it is also another of his and not of Holi's as they say. The Pilar Chapel is also very beautiful, it is surely the work of the sculptor Juan Mora, whom we know was commissioned by Bishop Navarro Salvador y Gilabarete in 1748.
Also in the Cathedral the treasure that is kept in the Chapter House is remarkable. It offers important works such as a rock crystal naveta, Venetian or Milanese work from the late 15th century. It was donated by Dean Agustín de Roca. Let us also mention a gold holder inlaid with stones attributed to Benvenuto Cellini, gift of a pontiff to Bishop Roca de la Serna. There is a parish cross from the end of the 16th century, gifted by Bishop Martín de Funes (1645-59) and various other jewels. It stands out among the works of art that the cathedral treasure offers us, a good collection of tapestries from Brussels from the mid-16th century signed by Geubeis, one of the best works made by this artist. It is also worth mentioning an ivory Christ with <<the tree of life>>, a curious work of art that came from Hispanic Filipino workshops. In works from the 17th century, although quite archaic and with an iconography full of Christian symbolism.
The silhouette of the church of Santa María is very beautiful in the urban complex of Albarracín, built by Pierres Vedel in the second half of the 16th century. The open community chapel with a sculpted dome is original in it, and the pulpit is in the same style. It was donated to the community by Bishop Francisco Soto de Salazar in 1572 and in it the architect Pierres Vedel and his wife are buried, who well deserved a tombstone for the many monuments they left for the Teruel lands, still on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. It raises, in the upper neighborhood towards the wall, the church of Santiago. Already in documents of 1247 it appears as one of the four parishes of the city. The church was designed by the architect Alonso de Barrio Dajo and started its factory in 1600. The tower was built in 1726. The most interesting altarpiece preserved in this church we know was the work of Jerónimo Martínez, who also worked in Teruel. It was made in 1524 and is preserved in the first chapel next to the Epistle.
The main altar is a work of merit and is surely due to Castillejo. Imagineer from the 18th century who worked on the main altar of the church of Orihuela.
The school of Escolapios, the secluded cloistered Dominican monastery of San Bruno and San Esteban, founded in 1607 and the Cristo de la Vega chapel, a work by the same architect between 1632 and 1640, are still to be visited in Albarracín. called hermitage of the Virgen de la Vega, perhaps I remember the Cistercian monastery consecrated to Santa María that from the XIII century made in that area. A very beautiful Romanesque image that is preserved here is a work of the 13th century of this ancient dedication. The Christ that is venerated today is the work of the Valencian sculptor Modesto Pastor, since the old one was lost in a fire in 1872.
To finish this brief artistic historical review, we must point out that with Albarracín its villages form a close community. Some of them preserve a remarkable monumental and artistic heritage, worthy of being visited and admired: Ródenas stand out with some noble houses with a good stonework. Its interesting church is the work of the architect Alonso del Barrio Dajo, who must have finished it around 1599. In this church a beautiful altarpiece is preserved around 1425, the work of the so-called << Maestro de Ródenas >> follower of the Valencian workshop of Nicolau Marzal and others works of interest.
Another town of monumental and artistic value is Orihuela del Tremedal. In it, the Patron Saint of the Sierra, the Virgin of Tremedal, appeared to a shepherd on the Tremedal hill at the foot of the Caimodoro. It is a remarkable 12th century carving that must have arrived with the Navarrese reconquest of the mountain country, as we have already indicated. The image is kept in the Parish Church, which is the largest building in the entire Community of Albarracín. It was planned in 1770 by the great Teruel architect José Martín de Aldehuela and built by his assistant Manuel Gilaberte, who finished it in 1776. Orihuela del Tremedal offers several remarkable manor houses with their shields and works of merit ironwork.
Another town that had a rich artistic heritage, now almost lost, is Villar del Cobo. Among two other noble factory houses, it preserves the Fernández del Villar family, today the Town Hall and the Muñoz family, the <<Casa Grande>> and a rich church that has lost almost everything it kept. The most notable thing is the tower, the work of the Serrano architect Alonso del Barrio Dajo who finished it in 1604.
Also Terriente, in the other part of the mountain range, offers the visitor a few houses and its church with a Renaissance portico, a notable work by four artists, the brothers Rodrigo and Pedro de Avajas and Pedro and Toribio de Utienes.
Perhaps the town that has the most to see is Gea de Albarracín. It was a village of the Community, but then it passed to the Señorío de los Fernández de Heredia, the main house of Albarracín, lords of the Santa Croche castle, whose ruins can be seen between this town and Albarracín. Its current church was still built in 1660. In it altarpieces, images and other works of art from the convents that existed in this town have been collected. It had a convent of Carmelites and still has another of cloistered Capuchins. Its church is a good example of the Rococo style, with good altarpieces, especially the main altar. Gea de Albarracín also offers some interesting houses and a couple of streets that still keep the architectural flavor of the region and are worth visiting.
Albarracín with its region forms a very closely linked geographical and historical unit. At the same time, the villages of its Community with its hamlets and churches are only part of the mountainous landscape, varied and full of original panoramas. Sometimes grandiose in its deep sickles or in its extensive pine forests; sometimes full of attractive charm in its fountains, in its smiling valleys or in its green pastures. The population groups along the course of the rivers, when they fertilize fertile and short meadows turned into orchards full of fruit trees; other times the hamlets offer themselves protected from the wind behind the hills, always close to springs of crystal clear and fresh waters.
But all this history and this natural and human landscape, has for years, the sign of a marked decline. Tourism and the possibilities of emigration and the desire to return to their country that the man of the Sierra feels. Perhaps in future times they will give new verve to the mountain villages. Today the proof of their lack of vitality is that they have lost faith in their personality. They have abandoned their ancient ways of living. Its typicality has almost totally disappeared. Hardly the supervisory celebrations are kept. The rondallas of young people with their string instruments are not kept active. Little are the songs of the land sung and all the popular, liturgical and pagan dances are being forgotten. Only the original mayos that are sung to the young remain, but increasingly poorly instrumented and less meaningful. Its candid lyrics and its simple music are the honor of the best of the folklore of our Aragon. The lyrical memory of courtesy and love sung with a serene and heartfelt melody on the night of April 30 to May 1 is still heard throughout the Sierra:
We are thirty
Of the flowery April
And to sing the May to him
Madam we come.
Novenarios, joys, dances, they have been lost. No one wears wooden clogs or snowskin sandals on rainy and muddy days; sheepskin chaps are no longer used by the shepherd; neither the leather hats, nor the piuques and cordellates. Everything typical is leaving without leaving a trace, not even in a Museum that perpetuates it and keeps it as an echo of the ways of living of other times. The country's characteristic cuisine has almost been lost and almost no one remembers the ritual refreshments of the canons and priests; neither the sweet nuts and pine nuts based on good honey that the earth produces, nor are crumbs eaten, nor are the large roasts organized. Only the pig slaughterers continue to produce black pudding, sausages, gueñas, sausages and sausage loins, but the hams and cured meats are becoming less rumbous and less cured and tasty. In Albarracín and some other villages like Orihuela and Bronchales, tourism is already showing a reaction. The pastry chef Recadero in the Plaza de Albarracín, offers pillows and seeks with his art to get away from vulgarity and return to tradition. Some other example could be cited of this dawn as the Espinosa de Orihuela del Tremedal inn.
But how far is the earth from regaining its lost personality.
There are hardly those wood and iron artisans who produced so much and so good. Their dulzaineros musicians who ran Aragon and Castile have left the trade bearing the name of the villages where they were from.
The last ones were those of Tramacastilla, those of Javaloyas and those of Villar del Cobo. They were famous for the towns of half Spain. Those shepherds who carried their reed flute in their knapsacks and filled the pine forests and ravines with joyous sounds, today no longer have any personality, carry a battery-powered transistor in their hands. The weavers of strong and showy cordellates, of saddlebags and blankets, have left their looms one after another; with them disappeared the warm woolen piuques, the skirts of brightly colored cordellates, and so many fabrics that the men and women of the Sierra wore with a marked personality. Not a single one of the shoemakers and tailors remain who from village to village traveled dressing and shoes the people at the same time that they entertained evenings creating and telling didactic or innocently mischievous jokes. Nothing remains ours, in our towns. The sign of the times brought the desire to emigrate to the youngest and smartest of its inhabitants.
Not because of all these symptoms of decadence, the Sierra is a land with no future. Proof of this is that the men who inhabit it are still dignified and welcoming. Those who remain in the country live better materially speaking. And to visit the city and its villages is to continually run into independent men and lords in their bearing, even though their poverty is great economically. They know how to live and even behave with nobility always. In them we will find the living picture of all that region full of personality and whose history will always help us to enjoy its villages and churches, its hermitages and sanctuaries. A cultured man, in the present time, in these lands of Albarracín, will always perceive as a palpitation of what this country was in other days and at the same time the landscape and the serenity and manliness of its inhabitants; They will make you feel the adventure of what these men and these lands can still offer, in the concert of the peoples of Spain. Sometimes I think that they offer again, as in the insecure medieval times, the place of refuge and the human environment of peaceful repose that we all need in these hectic times and an anguished life that man of our days leads. Living in Albarracín or in its villages will soon be, at the rate we are going, living again. Thus tourism points in some mountain towns as their possible future and greatest source of wealth. If crafts were reborn, efforts will be made to improve livestock farms and expand, as has been partially undertaken in some towns, the industrial exploitation of our woods, the earth would offer a reaction against its decline. Hopefully a vital and fruitful rebirth will soon be described and that this current lyrical and pessimistic description of the mountains will be forgotten and surpassed.
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