Aragon, Huesca, Teruel, Zaragoza, Saragose. Mudejar, Ebro, Pirineos. Information about Aragon.
Information about Aragon

Aragon, Huesca, Teruel, Zaragoza, Saragose. Mudejar, Ebro, Pirineos. Information about Aragon.

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.

A small summary of the contents is the following one:

Ample your information on 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.

Also Aragon enjoys a diverse and varied Nature where passing by plants, animals or landscapes we can arrive at a fantastic bestiario that lives in its monuments.

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.

Also you can dedicarte to the intangible ones: from the legend compilation that also does to universal Aragon you can persecute the presence of del Santo Grial in Aragon.

Huesca | Teruel | Zaragoza | Aragon | Maps |
Fauna | Flora | Geology | Fungi |
Tourism | Mudejar | Goya | Alphabetical Index | Thematic


Today is Teruel


In this article, the one dedicated to the capital of Teruel, indicates <<Ignored wonder>>. The phrase could be extended to the rest of the province, because perhaps it is one of the least known, and therefore least admired, within the Hispanic geography. Not only for the Spaniards of the remaining regions, we would still say for the people of Teruel themselves, among whom there will not be many who can give extensive and detailed news of how much their homeland offers. And yet, few other Spanish provinces will be able to show such a variety of motifs, such an extreme difference in their geography, so many values ​​in archeology, in rock art, in remains of Mudejar or Roman civilizations; in the diverse interest of its found crops, its varied local customs, ranging from the severe religious of a Calanda, Hijar or La Puebla, to the joyously festive dance of a Castellote.
All this, and much more, is offered to the historian, the scholar, the traveler who is so out of simple curiosity.
From the top of the Universal Mountains, with Orihuela del Tremedal as an outpost and the odd Albarracín nearby, to the Maestrazgo mountains, of an illustrious ancestry that is portrayed in Mora de Rubielos; or from the eastern Calamocha to Valderrobres and Calaceite, borders already with Catalan lands and Mediterranean waters through Tarragona, the province of Teruel surprises at every step with the multiplicity of memories that bring us living echoes of the past, as distant as it is interesting, and that offer today, as always, the physiognomy of landscapes that range from the steep cliffs with permanent snow and lush forests, as in the Bronchales area, to the soft ones where the olive grove is cultivated, so that in each and every one of the areas Let there be abundant monuments that proclaim centuries of art and glorious history.
To divide the Teruel province into traveling routes is to offer those who live them constant pleasant surprises, when it follows the Maestrazgo, the Sierra de Albarracín, the lowland or the Jiloca river.
The brochures published by this Savings Bank collect up to now the brightest aspects of what is found on these routes, and thus, together with the one dedicated to Teruel capital, where the history stands out, the current urban appearance continues with the extraordinary presence of its famous Mudejar towers and the unfading memory of Isabel and Diego, the lovers who in a way give the city its title and whose mummies protect the rich mausoleum that Juan de Avalos worked on. Then, thus combining the historical with the monumental, the geographical with the economic or the folkloric with how much in all aspects it can attract people so that Teruel does not continue to be an "ignored wonder", prestigious firms in love with all that have gone lovingly tracing these brochures that tell us about each of these areas mentioned and that must be completed, with other similar works already in press, as is the purpose of this Savings Bank of Zaragoza, Aragón and Rioja.

Ignored wonder

Teruel is a marvelous city, still ignored by most of the Spaniards for whom its name only evokes some terrible war parts of our Crusade and a remote cold city, the smallest of the provincial capitals.
A writer called it <<the Spanish Verona>> for being the cradle of the most beautiful love story: that of the Lovers of Teruel, the precursor of that of Romeo and Juliet.
Everything in Teruel is legend, myth, poetry, as its always clear sky, its streets, its corners and its monuments would have conspired to create them.
The mystery surrounding its remote and uncertain origin created a beautiful mythical poem with the strongest and most noble of symbols as protagonists: the bull, next to the most spiritual and poetic par excellence: the star.
Rejecting the legend by the logic of History, however, it will remain perennially written on its shield and there will be many of us who, ignoring logic, prefer to dream in the mythological vision of the bull with the bright star between its antlers, pointing to some lost soldiers and wandering in the mountains, the place where the gods wanted the city to be located.
The safest data tell us that it was the knights of Alfonso II who founded it in 1171 on the site of an Arab medina that who knows if it was Greek and Roman before, but Teruel owes its civic support to that king by granting it five more years afternoon of his famous Jurisdiction.
Due to its strategic location, watchtower of the Kingdom of Valencia and an obligatory passage from the Mediterranean to the important cities of the interior, Zaragoza and Guadalajara, Teruel was then an irreplaceable commercial hub; the great Great Souk to which Christians and Muslims converged with their merchandise from land and sea.
Because in Teruel, for several centuries Moors and Christians coexisted peacefully after the conquest of Valencia and from that coexistence and collaboration, the magnificent monuments that have come to us arose, although many others have been lost, such as the Torre de San Juan, which received The name of << la fermosa >> for being so among her sisters that today they seem insurmountable.
Thus Teruel offers the visitor the unique stamp in Europe and in the world, of its Mudejar towers, the most complete expression of a style that, according to Menéndez Pelayo, << is the only peculiarly Spanish style that we can be proud of >>.
It is true that, in several Aragonese cities, and with great splendor in Daroca, we find the characteristic towers, and in Zaragoza itself, the facade of the Seo corresponding to the Arch of the Dean is a beautiful example of inlaid ceramics as a reason for decorating the bare and poor brick.
However, a monumental complex such as the one that concerns us, which brings together four towers of parallel importance in the medieval setting of its narrow and steep streets under an extraordinarily clear and intense blue sky - it should not be forgotten that the city is almost at 1,000 meters of altitude-, it finds no comparison anywhere else in the world.
In these slender towers, the ceramics are their most beautiful decoration and if the view of the city under the setting sun that brings out multicolored sparkles from the tiles constitutes a fantastic vision, the vision becomes a dream of the Thousand and One Nights under the night lighting of reflectors that enhance the filigree of brick and ceramic.
A walk at sunset, repeated at night, under the stars that there seem to be closer to us, more affordable, or under the moon that surrounds the towers with its silver veil, is an unforgettable experience that we will hardly be able to find. out of there, although, in another aspect, at a certain moment and in the triangular and characteristic arcaded square that centers the small monument to the <<toric>> symbol of the city, we can believe ourselves transported to Bern, the medieval and chivalric of the arcades and the monumental fountains.
The oldest of the surviving churches in Teruel is the Cathedral, once the parish of Santa María de Mediavilla, whose name tells us that it was located in the heart of the town. It is dominated by the Romanesque of the mid-thirteenth century, barely allowing the Mudejar to show the ceramic decoration of its tower. But if your factory is sparing in this style, its Gothic Mudejar coffered ceiling makes up for it.
Fabulous work from the thirteenth century of marked oriental inspiration, between laceries, lozenges, stars and mixtilinear arches, the story of his Teruel life from the time it was built is displayed in panel paintings and around the Romanesque Pantocrator, like a Chronicle pictorial by Jorge Manrique or some <<Novas> troubadours by Ramón Vidal de Besalú brought to wood and brushes.
The aqueduct << Los Arcos >> from << The Portal of Betrayal >>.
There are the guilds, crafts and trades, from the noblest to the most discredited; people who populated Teruel in the 13th to 14th centuries and filled it with their daily events.
And although it is difficult for us to tear ourselves away from the attractiveness of this coffered ceiling, a unique piece known in the world and that if we wanted to study or even admire in detail it would take us many hours of many days, other beauties await us in this same Cathedral that has a remarkable larger altarpiece in unpolychrome wood, neat in sculptures, works by the Frenchman Gabriel Joly who in the 16th century arrived in Teruel fleeing from justice and who, according to tradition, dedicated his life to religious art here, thus seeking to expire a past of crimes.
In one of the side chapels, there is a beautiful 15th century Gothic altarpiece known as the Coronation Altarpiece, by an anonymous author and one of the most valuable jewels of the cathedral temple.
The monumental grating that closes the choir is also very beautiful and whose thistles and artichokes characteristic of flamboyant Gothic seem to force us to raise our eyes towards the heights where the most splendid jewel of this Teruel Cathedral was understood.
In what was once an important Jewish quarter, the highest in the city and which we will take care of as it deserves, San Pedro raises its Romanesque tower, the most austere of the towers of Teruel, with its green and black ceramic spools, escorted by seven minarets that finish off the polygonal apse of the Mudejar Gothic temple.
In one of its chapels, the mummies that poetic tradition attributes to Diego Marcilla and Isabel de Segura were discovered in 1616 and that today are in an attached chapel, under the beautiful and moving mausoleums that the sculptor Juan de Avalos carved out of alabaster.
The recumbent figures of both lovers, simply and serenely made, rest in separate mausoleums but their sleeping faces seem to look at each other in Eternity and their linked hands unite them in an insoluble and spiritual bond.
It has been debated whether Boccacio was inspired by this story for one of his stories with a similar plot but much more unlikely as corresponds to the Italian taste of the time. This is not strange if we take into account the fluid contact that existed in those centuries between the peoples of the Crown of Aragon and those of the other Mediterranean shore, a contact that has also been recorded in other orders. One, very curious, by the way, is the typical and exquisite << scold >>, twin brother of the tasty <<pizza>>.
The truth is that the history of the Lovers of Teruel has inspired many works in literature, music, theater and painting.
With saddened and admired spirits in the face of a love that today is difficult to understand, let us continue our visit to Teruel, which still keeps us the most unsuspected emotions and the most splendid of its towers.
These are the twins of Salvador and San Martín, whose erection is linked to a legend of love and rivalry between two architects both in love with a beautiful and noble Moorish lady. That it does not seem, but that love is the sign of this poetic and beautiful city.
The two towers are very similar and in them the Mudejar, at its peak it reaches the highest notes, as are its monumental proportions and the perfection of its decoration of green and white ceramic on brick red.
Both built in the 13th century, that of San Martín is better located, free in a square that opens up at the top of the city, cutting out over the distant mountain ranges and dominating the road that extends below. In this square is the modern Municipal Library and House of Culture with the City Museum that has, among other notable treasures, a splendid collection of ceramics in which the evolution without solution of this exceptional crafts can be studied.
In the church of San Martín Alfonso V celebrated the Courts of the Kingdom of sad memory for the history of Teruel because in them, this king who for others was Magnanimous, began the extinction of the Fueros and privileges that his namesake II Alfonso grants them, and Jaime the Conqueror will confirm and expand.
A sad sign is that of this tower of San Martín that, according to legend, was born under the tragic sign of death; death of love or for love as in Teruel could not be less.
In the 16th century, its foundations had to be propped up and reinforced and today its work shelters the monument to the Fallen, a beautiful wrought-iron cross that is guarded by slender lanterns, under the four Teruel towers, which with La Merced, also Mudejar and outside the walls. There are five of them, a wide arch opens through which the street runs, thus contributing to the mysterious and oriental atmosphere that is the characteristic of the city.
Under this of San Martín rises the famous Andaquilla, gate of the wall and path that connects one of the only two accesses of Teruel that is almost an inaccessible stronghold. Also on this side, joining the city with the outer suburb lies the daring and elegant Aqueduct, commonly called Los Arcos, with double arches and marvelous height, magnificent work of the Renaissance, unique of its kind in Spain, and whose author was, in 1537 French engineer Pierre Vedel.
The unfortunate Diego Marcilla came to town because of the Andaquilla. Hence this wall gate got its name, corruption of the cry with that the lover spurred on his cubalgadura: << Go jaquilla! >> trying to arrive in time to avoid the wedding of Isabel de Segura with the powerful lord of Azagra, who announced to the four winds the bells of the towers of the city and that was being held in Santa María de Mediavilla, today the Cathedral.
Under the tower of the Savior, before which we have to regret that the surrounding houses imprison it until it takes away perspectives in its lower middle body, runs the main street of the old city with its houses with viewpoints and its tiny shops, old guilds and crafts, dark and medieval street that the night revalues ​​in the light and shadow of the well-toned and forged lanterns and that begins in the Plaza del Torico and ends where the city ends overlooking the Turia river to which you descend through the famous staircase, in the Mudejar style modern through the well-kept park and the great landing of which is the relief alluding to the History of the Lovers, a noucentista work by the sculptor Aniceto Marinas.
Another very interesting temple is that of the convent of San Francisco, a very pure Gothic, exemplary in its style in the typically Mudejar city.
This convent was born around the tomb of two humble minimal friars: Juan de Perugia and Pedreo de Sassoferrato, disciples of the Poverello de Asís, who came to Teruel to preach his fiery word in a modest hermitage dedicated to Saint Bartholomew that stood in the place. where today we admire the superb factory of this convent. Martyrs in Valencia for the cruelty of Emir Abuizeit, Jaime I later brought their bodies to Teruel where through the centuries they are venerated. La Merced is a delicious and plastic picture located outside the walls that serves to show us that even in the sixteenth century, that of the construction of a tiny tower, a younger sister of the superb towers that we have just admired, the city's architects were still faithful to its characteristic school. Or perhaps the reason must be found in the survival of Moors and Sephardic Jews even after their expulsion decreed by the Catholic Monarchs. Because the truth is that in Teruel, as it was in Tudela, the coexistence of Christians and Moors was a kind of advance of conciliar ecumenism, a rare exception at the time.
There are examples of civil architecture in the Casa de la Comunidad, a typical Aragonese Renaissance construction, with a high gallery supported by elegant columns, an austerely emblazoned façade and a noble cloister staircase, sorptly decorated.
Right next to the Cathedral and its tower, the Casa del Deán contributes to the character of the suggestive square and constitutes a magnificent and sturdy example of how in the 16th century, emigres and Moorish builders, the Mudejar elements were combined with the traditional lines of the Aragonese architecture.
The street that runs under the arch of the cathedral tower takes us to another square with a great archaic flavor and to the Episcopal Palace and its incipient Diocesan Museum. It has an elegant patio with Ionic columns that support the high arcade gallery under the projecting eaves.
Of the old wall there are few towers of the forty that according to chroniclers of the time it possessed; only the Lombardera tower and the Ambeles tower remind us of its past splendor and power. And of its seven gates, only the aforementioned Andaquilla and the Portal de la Traición bear witness, with its corresponding legend, which in this case is history, of the betrayal of a judge who gave the city to the Castilians; that every corner and every stone in Teruel is a legendary landmark.
And to this end we can well remember the plank bridge known as the Doña Elvira bridge that this lady ordered to be raised to never pass over the San Francisco bridge, where her husband received a treacherous death; love, always love tied to the history of the city of lovers.

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Enchanted by the ancient city, we cannot ignore the modern city, centered by a beautiful square of arcades and severe stone buildings that presides over the Civil Government and where almost all of the official buildings are located, in addition to the Casino, noble modern construction within the classic Aragonese style.
Nor can we ignore the daring display of the Viaduct that joins the urban center, the well-laid out widening every day.
If in our detained visit to Teruel the night surprises us, let us not waste the propitious moment to saturate ourselves with the mysterious charm of the Jewish quarter and its sleeping streets in the solitary silence of its crossroads where the game of shadows and the moon pretends to us elusive, demure figures in white alkiceles that have returned for a few moments to the spell of our evocation, and disappear in the nooks and corners of Calle de la Comadre or Calle de Bolamar, which used to belong to Abdul Amar, the leader of a group of Moors who defended the city in the flag fights.
Instead, El Arrabal, around La Merced, will suggest the memory of the Muslim builders and craftsmen who made the beauty of ceramics possible. We can still visit some potteries and we can still find an old oven that who knows if he knew how to cook the bright bowls that adorn the towers like emeralds and opals set.
It is with a kind of dazzling that we discover in Teruel some romantic and uncompromising artisans, attached to the primitive forms of a tradition that, born in the 12th century, maintains the same procedures, the same mixtures, the same drawings and the same colors as had at birth.
The pieces that the Museum of the city keeps and those that line the shelves of the potteries, offer little more difference than the one that gives the patina of the centuries.
Teruel ceramics, like all of Teruel, is almost unknown in the rest of Spain. The difficulties of exporting to other provinces and the natural limitation forced by the very small number of ceramic pottery, are the reasons for this ignorance of the purest and most beautiful ceramics in Spain.
In these pottery workshops in Teruel, we feel we have gone back seven centuries when the Mudejar pottery moved the wheel on foot and ground the clay with a waterwheel driven by a donkey.
The brick kilns are fired with firewood and there are no molds or designs. Those are the hands of the alfar and the cane; these. The inheritance that through seven centuries has been transmitted from father to son from time to time, in the rich quarries that are the excavations of the province, objects of unknown or barely deductible use appear that will swell the collection of models of potters and that later will have a very different application from those for which they were granted, showing that it is not necessary to depart from tradition to adapt them to modern needs.
The tones of Teruel ceramics are exclusively purple and green on a white background. And his drawings, those typical of heraldry: hydras and dragons, warriors on horseback, the gules of the Crown of Aragon, figures in the coffered ceiling of the Cathedral and animals such as the rabbit, the fish, the dog, the owl and especially the bull: <<the torico>> looking at the star, symbol of the city and motto of its shield, forerunner of the little bull of the song, who fell in love with the moon.
These themes are always enclosed between the laceries, arches, Islamic stars and arabesques of the Mudejar tiling that cover almost the entire piece as small replicas of the fabulous shining towers of inlaid ceramics, like beautiful jewels for a sultana's gift.
Amphoras of rare shapes with typical lengths such as a strange animal, lamps, benders, pharmacy jars, plates and bowls, mortars and vessels for wine; a theory of objects that reveal the secret of the llares and cupboards of the people who created them for their use in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.
In the following centuries a new modality of ceramics with blue decoration appeared, perhaps influenced by its neighbor Manieses. Rough ceramics with rudimentary drawings in which the Mudejar memory has been abandoned and that has lost all its finesse and elegance and the personality that characterizes the previous one, which again, in later centuries, prevailed again, although in the 19th and early of the XX it is barely enough to not disappear and flourish again in these years of vindication of the Craftsmanship in which it imposes its pure and not mystified tradition.
Along with the catavinos, jugs, vessels, etc., we find the pots for the garlic soups, delicious those and these, which are one of the gastronomic specialties of Teruel and sporadically we find a very curious and interesting manifestation of glazed clay because it is of the Iberian bull that has become famous in Cuenca and that here presents the characteristic of being represented sitting. Its rougher shape, more primitive than that of Cuenca and its mouth so tiny, located between the erect and large antlers, that it is difficult to suppose for what use they were intended, but that leaves little doubt that they were inspired by cave paintings. from the caves of the Sierra de Albarracín (Cocinilla del Obispo), which explains its rudeness.
We have finished the visit to the city and we say goodbye to her, always ready to return. When we move away, Teruel, girded by the Turia, naps pleased in its beauty and in its isolation that, if it keeps it ignored by many, also defends it from invasive stridencies that would be like a sacrilegious cry ripping its serene and immutable placidity; like a jazz drum roll in the harmony of a zéjel.


Alcañiz in Geography
One of the best defined regions of our lands is that of Bajo Aragón; Alcañiz is its capital. It dominates a basin bordered by hillocks and hills of earthy ocher color, divided by yellowish sandstone banks And outlined by patches of green tinged by green-silver olive trees and by the crops of the oasis created by the waters of the Guadalope that stretches in a sinuous course, encircling the city and its castle that stand on top of a steep hill, Alcañiz is an irremediable consequence of the designs of geopolitics. From the mountainous spine that closes the paths of the sea, with the peaks of the ports of Beceite, three rivers, in all times, have maintained the validity of the walk of men between the Ebro and the Levantine lands: the Matarraña, the Guadalope and the Martin. For this reason Alcañiz is the essential center of a large geographical area and a long part of our history.
In the Alcañizan landscape the Estanca cannot be forgotten, whose sheet of water, lying at the foot of the masses of the Castle and the Collegiate Church, in whose shadow the houses of the city are huddled, crowded together in sloping streets, serves as the first chromatic term to one of the most typical views of Alcañiz. And it is fair to say that the situation of the village, in the center of a hole, provides it with so many different and beautiful points of view, how many roads cross it, the same if it comes from Zaragoza, as from Teruel and Calanda, or from Caspe or, finally, from Tortosa or Morella.
In urban areas, Alcañiz is a hill, mounted on a hill: at the top of Pui-Pinós with the Calatravo castle; on the lower plateau, the Collegiate Church dominating the Town Hall and the Lonja; from here streets that descend as if on the surface of a cone trunk to the Guadalope belt and others that form rings parallel to the river.

Legend and History

A chronicler from Alcañiz, from the early 18th century, wanted to locate the city of Ercavica in its location; another the Anitogis cited by Livy; and some to Oscicerda in Valdevallerías. Leaving aside these deviations of Juan Zapater and Sancho and those of those who made Lower Aragón the scene of the forays of the almost legendary Spanish Moor Omar ben Hafsun, for turning Barbastro into Bobastro, the truth is that the history of Alcañiz begins very soon, although We have been denied the name of the cities that were erected in its term. Its character as a crossroads of the paths of History explains the astonishing density of archaeological sites: from the stations-workshops of flint investigated by the worthy Mosén Bardaviu in the Ram Massada, to the cave paintings of Val del Charco del Agua Amarga that we They present the most animated picture of the life of the Mesolithic hunters of Lower Aragon with hunts, races and a large woman dominating the frieze; from the head of the Cascarujo and the Cuervo who already knew the metallurgy of bronze to the establishments of the Indo-European people in Siriguarach or Pui Moreno and the presence of the Levantine Iberians, connoisseurs of the potter's wheel, the rotary mill and the metallurgy of iron in the Palao Val de Vallerías, El Tarratrato, Tiro de Cañón and other towns that are grouped very close to each other, up to the Roman traces of Alcañiz el Viejo and the news of finds that may correspond to other cities or to such numerous rustic establishments who could postulate for Alcañiz the capital of prehistoric Aragon. We can consider installed the museum that in the castle will house the most important copies of the collections collected by the Frs. Piarists in a long and patient rummage.
Written history begins with the Arabs. The name of Alcañiz, it is, and can be interpreted as <<the churches>>, which could refer to the presence of Mozarabic communities. In the 12th century it entered the military system of Alfonso I, who, although he exceeded this area of ​​the Guadalope and founded a castle in Pui-Pinós in 1117, dominated it ephemerally, since the fraga rota put the castle and the city in the hands of his previous gentlemen, who definitely lost it in 1157 due to the campaigns of Ramón Berenguer IV. It is interesting to note that the king reserved the castle and gave the town and the term to its inhabitants by means of a popular letter that would be the origin of the long-held antagonism to which we will refer later. However, it is said that whoever wants to find it in stone is enough to oppose the severe packaging of the town hall to the fortress that dominates Alcañiz from above. After the reconquest, the population was divided into four parishes: Santa María was first in the castle and then in the lower part, where today the collegiate church, and it is clear that Jaime I gave thanks for the conquest of Ibiza and that Benedict XIII granted him the honor he has today at the request of Saint Vincent Ferrer.
But let's get on with the story. The castle passed in 1179 in the Order of Calatrava by the mercy of Alfonso II, becoming the headquarters and main house of the Aragonese encomienda of the Order, residence of the masters and therefore the theater of important events related to the schism, with foundations and conquests, in addition to being the head of an intense monastic-warrior life. Jaime I made Alcañiz his favorite place of residence, preparing in his castle the plans for the conquest of Valencia, celebrating general courts in 1250 and submitting to arbitrators his dissensions with his first-born son, Don Alfonso; Such important meetings were repeated in 1371, in 1436 (in whose courts the Aragonese granted Alfonso V the exceptional aid of 220.00 gold florins) and those of 1441, completed in Zaragoza.
In Alcañiz met in 1411 the <<parliament>> that prepared the views and discussions of Caspe to resolve the lawsuit of the succession to the throne of Martín el Humano, for which it deserved the title of <<City of Concord>> and then later he would participate in the main events of Aragonese history; in 1347 he supported the Union nobles against Pedro IV; in 1462 it suffered the attacks of the Castilian and Catalan revolted against Juan II; he actively participated in the submission of the Catalan secession of 1640, for which Felipe IV granted him the title of City in 1652; Nor did the wars of Succession, Independence and the Carlists spare him destruction and reasons to show his mettle, in which he almost always maintained the liberal cause.
It is interesting to underline the permanent struggle between the town and the castle; citizens sought support from the king against the lords, to the point that their deputies sat in court on university benches. Judgments are constantly issued by the kings to limit or fix the tributes that the Alcañizanos had to pay to the lords of the castle. Its population in the 16th century was 1,136 fires, including the Moors and Jews, which is not much; the Jews were well regarded, although they were excluded from the walled enclosure and had the synagogue where today the hermitage of the Annunciation is; San Vicente Ferrer achieved the conversion of the famous Astruch Leví and with it that of the main members of the Aljama de Alcañiz, which closed its doors of royal order in 1415.
In the town's struggle with the castle, Alfonso III authorized the citizens to forcibly reject the enemies that the Order tried to introduce into the fortress and frequently paid the lords for the anger of the Alcañizanos, well in itself - Don Martín de Molina, commander of Burriana, died in 1525 at the ringing bell-, in his relatives- those of the commander-in-chief Don Fernando de Aragón- or of relatives- those of the commander-in-chief Don Fernando de Aragón- or of his servants - two royal gatekeepers in 1328-; Those summoned to trial are the jurors, who took the role of leaders in these struggles.
The municipality, strong and well organized, was governed by four juries and there was a justice to settle issues between the town and the order, with appeal to the master and the king. Finally, Alfonso V, in 1438, perpetually incorporated the town to the crown, granting it the right to resist << until Death >> against anyone who wanted their dominion, even if they did so with royal powers.

Art and monuments
So many historical events and the vigor of its political and economic institutions had to leave in Alcañiz the mark in stone that the monuments signify. Unfortunately many succumbed to the continuous weaving and unweaving of humans over their own cities. You can still find corners that keep all the perfume of history and isolated houses from the Gothic period with their ashlars patinated in gold by the centuries-old kiss of the sun.
The visit must begin with the Castle, where the Ministry of Information and Tourism has just installed a hostel, while the Ministry of Education restored the remains of the old Gothic fortification. You reach the top of the hill by an old walkway that outlines the walls and defenses; you enter the enclosure through a portal flanked by machicolations. The main façade is the most modern of the castle, an eighteenth-century work of the Infante Don Felipe, conceived in the manner of an Aragonese palace Made of brick, with a central canvas of three bodies (door, balcony and theory of semicircular arches) and two corner towers with the same top decoration; on the façade a blurred inscription commemorates the work of 1728. hotel services have been accommodated in this area and from the front there is a beautiful panorama over the Guadalope valley, the Beceite ridges and below the <<arrabal>> de Alcañiz and secondly the dry land mountains, cutting out the sharp silhouette of the Cuervo head, witness of three millennia of the history of the City.
Behind the door of Zaguán, a patio leads to the 13th century complex, in which the cloister stands out, Gothic, but with Romanesque access doors, with galleries formed by pointed arches that start from the ground. There are some burials in it, such as that of Don Juan García López, who died in 1306, according to an inscription, and another without date that tells us about the builder, Johannes lapicida, << hoc claustrum fecit. Hail Mary, Gratia Plena, Dominus Tecum >>. With a glimpse of some remains of mural painting from the time of the cloister, you can go to the keep, on whose staircase we will find a window with the Calatrava crosses as ornaments; then the first floor, with a flat ceiling supported by very open pointed arches and on the walls an exceptional set of paintings that are of the little that we conserve in civil matters and with scenes that are confusing but that allude to the king, the nobles, the armies and warrior companies, with castles and cities, some deposited today at the City Hall.
A real percentage should be indicated inserted in a wheel that reads <<regnabo, regno, regnavi>>, that is to say, the future, present and past, with symbolic figures of day and night; a troubadour, a fox fights with a rooster, artisans in the work of allusions to guilds and a series of knights with horsemen and infants with the cross of Calatrava, with the crests of the Luna, Aragon and Barcelona, ​​etc. These paintings, in need of a complete and in-depth study, have been dated to the fourteenth century and supposed to be of French influence within a late Gothic. The upper floor communicates with it through a spiral staircase and has a large pointed arch as a supporting element and a mullioned window.
The chapel is an important example of twelfth century architecture, with a simple trio and a semicircular door with three thick concentric baquetones topped by three decorative Romanesque windows, the single nave is covered with a barrel vault reinforced by transverse arches. In the head, and next to the Gospel, is the mutilated tomb of Don Juan de Lanuza, viceroy of Aragon and mayor of Alcañiz, who died in 1533; Although this very fine alabaster work has sometimes been attributed to Gabriel Joli, the contract with Damián Forment is known, who is shown here with the greatest Renaissance cleanliness. A part of the sculptures is kept in the Town Hall and what remains in the church is brutally destroyed by many years of negligence and neglect.
The sacristy, the tower of Lanuza with its shield, placed when rebuilding it, are still preserved in the old part of the castle; the tower of Juan Fernández de Heredia, with its weapons and other elements of less interest. The castle complex is a national monument (no. 1,060).
Descending from the castle, the curious should stop in the Plaza de España, which is beautiful for its monuments and unevenness, despite the fact that a good part of its buildings have been bastardized to the modern, having to attribute much of the loss to the explosion of a gunpowder store in 1840, burned by a lightning flash. In the well-known picture of Parcerisa the whole of the Town Hall and the Lonja can be seen from a pointed arch with a trace almost as high as the ones opposite that are preserved today; The gallery of arches that runs over the warheads of the Lonja has no windowsill and the two doors of the portico are open while the other modern openings do not exist.
The two buildings, although very different, marry and complement each other wonderfully, not interfering with the severity of the town hall, which shows the power of the municipal life of Alcañiz, the grace of the Lonja that could adorn a plaza of the Italian quattrocento. The primitive part is made up of three very neat arches and a much later date finish in the form of a gallery of semicircular arches and lunettes, without a doubt an imitation of the one next to the Town Hall. The part of the corner was not finished, but in the upper part it was put in the 18th century, with a sundial, a relief of the Holy Trinity. Quadrado thinks that the Lonja was <<corte>> for the administration of justice, and others that it is the front part of a house sunk in an explosion, where the parliamentarians of Caspe had gathered to reach Concordia. We are really in the presence of a portico or loggia destined for the intense public life of the municipality of Alcañiz. Its construction dates from the late 15th century.
The 16th century town hall is one of the most beautiful buildings in Aragonese civil architecture; With a severe and harmonious outline, it is very different on the façade of the square, which closes at right angles to the Lonja, and that of the adjoining street. The first is of a severe and ostentatious revival.
Made of stone and dark in color, with three bodies very harmoniously arranged, with the coat of arms of the city in the center and an upper finish with a superb eaves with coffered ceiling, covering a gallery of arches. The side façade, from the same time, is rigorously Mudejar, as a symbol of the two elements, erudite and popular, that intervened in its construction.
Both the City Hall and the Lonja are national monuments (numbers 1,061 and 1,062).
The Collegiate Church occupies the place where the old parish of Santa María was built, whose finery and beauty Zapater made languages ​​and of which today very few remains, outside the old tower. Today it is an impressive monument, of gigantic dimensions, typical of a cathedral, with a very characteristic profile that dominates all the perspectives of Alcañiz. The old Church had three naves and ambulatory and three doors, one Romanesque, another Gothic and the last Mudejar.
The current one, the work of the Zaragoza architect Domingo de Yarza, began in 1736, with a large central tower on the dome, four at the angles of the rectangular floor plan and two brick on the sides of the large-scale imafron, with Baroque decoration of statues and reliefs, Saint Peter and Saint Paul and the Virgin with the Child; in the center an ornate group with Santa María la Mayor, surrounded by Santiago, San Francisco, San Miguel and San Gabriel; in the last body San Ramón Nonnato and San Pedro Mártir. Inside, in the process of restoration, neoclassical in taste, the great dome stands out and some samples of excellent altarpieces are preserved that Carlos Cid attributes to the one he calls <<Master of Alcañiz>>, such as San Jerónimo, San Pablo, Santos Cosme and Damien and other tables.
The rest of the buildings in Alcañiz, with a monumental air, are less important, but many have packaging and character, reaching the graceful niches with saints in different streets. The Dominican convent, founded by Juan de Aragón, son of Pedro IV in 1382, at the end of the 14th century, reformed in later centuries and passing to civil uses after the exclaustration; There is little to note in the convent of the Dominicans, from the 17th century, a very graceful Mudejar tower from the 18th century guards the church of the Piarists; and little to add the convents of Calzados Carmelitas and Franciscanos.
The monumental complex, then, that can be admired in Alcañiz alone would deserve a visit to this city that has been settling on its site many historical events and a validity extended to a wide region. Its shield is a castle on a silver field flanked by two sinople reeds (too easy an allusion to the name) and in the head the gules bars on a gold field, from Aragon.

Customs and traditions.
In recent years, most of the uses of the population of farmers and merchants that formed the nucleus of Alcañiz and its region have been lost. Some peculiarities remain such as the front of the 72 spouts, many of them with their name and their legend, that of the widowers, that of the bride and groom, the one in which anyone who drinks will be forced to return to Alcañiz. The suit was preserved until recently; It was the same Aragonese with some variations, such as the blouse instead of the jacket and the straight-peaked scarf for men and the short and airy skirt for women. Something remains in the traditional kitchen; the <<soul cakes>> with filling, the lamb a la shepherdess, the <<parretas>> in oil and the tripe, the Easter cake with the <<rosqueta>> on Thursday lardero.
Regarding popular music, apart from the <<bolero of El Tieso >> and the <<dance>> Alcañiz has a very defined personality joke, slow with Paced strokes and slight variations with respect to the brother styles of Albalate, Calanda and Andorra.
As always happens, it is religious customs that have been most faithfully kept. In the first place, the main festival dedicated on September 8 to 13 to the Virgen de los Pueyos and the Santo Ángel Custodio, with a chapel in the collegiate church and hermitage in the surroundings. Tradition says that the Virgin showed herself to pastor Lucio, back in the 12th century, in a place a couple of kilometers from Alcañiz, asking him to build a hermitage next to the river and to be worshiped << while carrying the Guadalope and the countryside bears fruit >>, taken to Alcañiz, disappeared at night returned to the place where the shepherd had appeared; There a hermitage was raised and worshiped and a lively pilgrimage is worshiped on September 9, in addition to the Vow procession, on the third Sunday of Easter, in memory of the happy solution of the lawsuit that Alcañiz maintained with the town hall of La Seo de Zaragoza, favorably resolved by Benedict XIII. Other festivals are dedicated to San Roque, San Antón and Santa Agueda, with bonfires, joys and praises.
Without a doubt, Holy Week is the most important religious-popular celebration that Alcañiz conserves. Its peculiarity is common to other regional towns, such as Hijar and Calanda, and it is contained in the endless and skillful drum rolls that accompany part of the processional processions; Something has been lost and a lot has changed in these customs, but other traditions are affirmed and increased, and thus, next to the pond, a beautiful location has been erected on a base formed by an immense drum, a wrought iron monument to the drummer from Alcañiz, forming a group of great beauty that reflects the enthusiasm of the Alcañizanos for their drums during Holy Week. The penitents wear sky-blue tunic and curly hood. It seems that the origin of these celebrations dates back to 1687, the date on which Fray Mateo Pestel, Lent of the college, organized for the first time the procession of the Holy Burial.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the novelty of going six Nazarenes with <<dobleras>> was introduced, that is, with elliptical tables with rings that struck on riveted nails when shaking them violently, behind priests and butlers, these noises represented the disorders of the nature by the death of the Lord and soon they began to be reproduced by drums of tempered patch that, from 1730, would inaugurate the custom of the drum roll. In the proclamation, all the neighbors were invited to attend the Holy Burial and it is a pity that it is no longer pronounced, because its grace, naivety, and respect, would deserve to be preserved. It read like this: The so-called "bis-bis" procession on Monday, whose name must be derived from the whispering of the prayer; that of the Proclamation, on Tuesday; that of Jesús Nazareno on Wednesday; that of Silence, on Thursday; on Friday the one of the Encounter, the Holy Burial and the Solitude later, closing with the procession of << the Palometas >> on Easter Sunday. Every day and night the drums, handled with rare skill, resonate with scant breaks. Each group has its own touch and there are many and different ones; the merit is in dragging those who are close to leave their touch and follow the other; fingers come to bleed from stubborn and repeated effort. In the Holy Week of Alcañiz traditions of nearly three centuries are kept and others are being created for the future, of extraordinary appeal.

Alcañiz today

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