Stay in Aragon, between río Ebre and the Pyrenean foothills
The Autonomous Community of Aragon, Aragó in Catalan, is made up of the three provinces of Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel.
In the north of Spain, the region is cut from west to east by the Ebro river valley bordered to the north by the Pyrenean foothills and to the south by the foothills of the Iberian Mountains.
Most of the industrial and economic activities are concentrated in the Ebro River basin and Zaragoza. The province offers vast natural areas for sports and outdoor activities.
Aragon, a traditional stopover, has been crossed for centuries by different itineraries of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. One of them, on the Camino Frances, leaves from the Somport pass in the French Pyrenees to Jaca in the north-east of Aragon.
A land of history, Aragon, which was a kingdom in the Middle Ages, inherited from this period a great architectural and artistic heritage.
Romanesque art first of all and then following the Muslim occupation, Mudéjar art from the 13th to 16th centuries strongly influenced the architecture of the region. The Ajalferia Palace or San Salvador Cathedral in Zaragoza, the towers of Teruel are illustrious examples.
The Aragonese Pyrenees
Traversed by numerous hiking trails in addition to those of Compostela, the Pyrenean foothills, especially the northern part of the province of Huesca, concentrate most of the tourist offers.
In an environment where the sierras are marked by rural exodus and the pastoral tradition, the Aragonese Pyrenees offer several national parks and ski resorts. Added to this are green valleys such as Ansó, Hecho or Tena, which is classified as a biosphere reserve.
These large mountain areas with their many rivers and canyons are ideal for sports and nature activities. For example, rafting, kayaking, skiing, water sports, mountaineering as in the national park Ordesa y Monte Perdido bordering France, are on the program of many destinations of the Aragonese sierras.
Monte Perdido has also been declared a World Heritage site because of its ecological importance and the richness of its fauna and flora.
The Posets-Maladeta Nature Park is home to the highest peaks of the Pyrenees, including the Aneto Peak (3404 m) and the southernmost European glaciers.
In the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park, it is internationally renowned for its 70 canyons, cradles of the Aragonese canyoning.
Among the ski resorts in Aragon, we can cite among others: Panticosa-Los Lagos, Formigal, Candanchú or Astún.
Main destinations in Aragon
320 km northeast of Madrid.
Zaragoza is the capital of the province of Aragon and a necessary passage between Castile, the Atlantic and the Pyrenees. Zaragoza is situated on the banks of the River Ebro in a plain halfway between Madrid and Barcelona.
A pleasant city with many green spaces, the’ city of four cultures’ as it is often called, still carries in its heritage inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List the imprints of civilizations, Romano-Fiberian, Jewish, Muslim and Christian who built it. In its old town, it is in the Tubo district that most of its nightlife is concentrated.
110 km north of Zaragoza.
Medieval village Uncastillo offers a monumental site unique in Aragon. Castle fortress and keep from the 11th century, palace with gothic architecture, churches declared of cultural interest and a lonja from the 13th century are the main elements. A few kilometres from Uncastillo, the site of Los Bañales is one of the main Romanesque ensembles in Aragon.
90 km southwest of Zaragoza.
A city of Roman origin, Catalayud lies at the foot of five castles of Arab origin, one of the oldest defensive systems in Muslim Spain. Amongst the Mudéjares buildings that characterize Catalayud, the collegiate church of Santa María (XIVth century), classified as a National Monument, gothic-mudéjar, Renaissance and baroque styles.
115 km southwest of Zaragoza.
Nuévalos, a village of barely 400 inhabitants, is nestled at the confluence of the Piedra and Ortiz rivers, on the banks of the Tranquera artificial lake formed by the water retention of these two rivers. Beautiful place of relaxation from where one can observe many birds nesting in the reeds bordering the lake, many nautical activities are proposed there in addition to fishing and hikes.
45 km south of Zaragoza.
The birthplace of the painter Francisco de Goya, whose house and a museum showcasing some of his works, Fuendetodos has a network of a hundred kilometres of signposted hiking trails. Curiosity of the village: Las naveras, 18th century buildings used to store snow that once transformed into ice was transported to Zaragoza.
390 km northeast of Madrid.
Founded more than two thousand years ago, the old Iberian city, where coins were minted in the 3rd century BC, is surrounded by medieval ramparts.
The historical centre is housed inside the Coso, this long artery divided into two parts, the coso alto and coso bajo, which, along with the streets of Joaquín Costa and the Ronda de Montearagón, surround a series of narrow streets dominated by the cathedral of Huesca.
The lively and popular atmosphere of the city is found in the historic district of Porches de Galicia, which descends from the Coso. The nearby Miguel Servet Park, the city’s green lung, offers a different atmosphere.
65 km north of Huesca.
“The Pearl of the Pyrenees” as Jaca is called is a cosmopolitan Pyrenean village situated on the French Way of Santiago de Compostela. A fine example of military architecture, the citadel, classified as a National Monument, was built at the end of the 16th century.
Among Jaca’s festivities: medieval battle on the first Friday of May. On the programme: tournaments and competitions of ancient traditional Aragonese sports. On June 25th, the pilgrimages of Santa Orosia take place, giving the opportunity to celebrate with the sound of the chiflo, a flute with three holes, the palotiau, one of the oldest balls in Europe.
Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park
A few kilometres northeast of Huesca.
Only about ten kilometres from Huesca, the Sierra y Cañones de Guara park is made up of a limestone massif culminating in 2077 meters.
Interspersed with deep chasms and ravines, waterfalls and caves, it is crossed by about sixty canyons which have become references for European canyoning. Among the most sought-after ravines and gorges of this protected area, the largest in Aragon, las Gorgas Negras, la Peonera or Mascún.
50 km east of Huesca.
Nestled on the rocky hills of the first Pyrenean foothills of the Sierra y Cañones de Guara park, Alquezar is the place to practise nature sports such as canyoning, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking.
In addition to its old castle with some walls overlooking the village, Santa María’s collegiate church with its cloister with Romanesque capitals and its organ, is one of the most visited monuments in the region. A visit to the Casa Fabían ethnological museum allows you to know everything about its history and that of the Somontano region, excellent wine-growing areas.
Skiing in the Aragonese Pyrenees
Close to the French border, the Aragonese Pyrenees offer skiers some of the best ski resorts in Spain, including: Candanchú, Astún, Cercler, Panticosa-Los Lagos and Formigal…
110 km east of Madrid.
The city of the legendary lovers of Teruel, of which it houses a mausoleum dedicated to them, is situated on a hill in the south of Aragon. The city is characterized by its Mudéjar-style architectural heritage, which is also classified as World Heritage.
Teruel, which was the scene of one of the toughest battles of the Spanish civil war, is famous for its Plaza del Torico, the square of the little bull that bears the city’s emblem: the bull with the star. Located next to the old Jewish quarter of the city, you can see on a pedestal, the statue, very photographed by tourists of a small black bull.
40 km west of Teruel.
Surrounded by imposing ramparts, the ancient capital of a Taifa kingdom, whose historic centre is classified as a property of cultural interest, is sheltered in a meander of the Guadalaviar at the foot of the Pinares de Rodeno massif.
The steeply sloping streets of the medieval quarter surround the Plaza Mayor, which leads to a lookout point with an advantageous view of the Rio Guadalaviar and the city.
Alcalá de la Selva
75 km east of Teruel
Famous for its small orchards bordering the Alcalá River and the beauty of its landscapes Alcalá de la Selva is the main winter resort in the province of Teruel. Nestled in the heart of the Sierra de Gúdar, the mountain village is very popular with Aragonese and Valencian hikers.
92 km northeast of Teruel.
Planted on a rocky promontory of the Upper Maestrazgo, the old town of Cantavieja, which is declared a property of cultural interest, houses one of the most complete Gothic heritage of Aragon.
The unspoilt and preserved landscapes of this part of Maestrazgo attract an increasing number of hikers.
120 km northeast of Teruel.
A true medieval jewel, the architectural ensemble of Mirambel, classified as a property of cultural interest, was awarded the Europa Restoration Prize a few years ago. An undeniable medieval atmosphere emerges from this walled enclosure that has remained almost intact with its 13th century ramparts dominating the Cantavieja River from the promontory on which they sit.