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Aragón, made up of three provinces – Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel - is a sparsely populated region and also one of great contrasts in climate and landscape, with the Pyrenees to the north and the “Cordillera Iberica” to the south. Temperatures also vary - from the cold snows again in the north to the more temperate climes of the southern prairies. It is also a land of castles, romantic churches, woods and rocks.
Gastronomy The cuisine of Aragón is essentially based on meat. In the Upper Aragón region, for example, in the heart of the mountains, popular dishes include lamb and goat roasted on the spit, lamb and vegetable stew (a la pastora) and the so-called esparragos montañeses (literally mountain asparagus), which are in fact calves' tails. "Las magras con tomate" are very tasty: slices of slightly fried ham dipped in tomato sauce.
Other recipes include partridge with chocolate, fried trout from the Pyrenees and the tasty hams of Teruel, which are cured in the cruel winter cold of the mountains; not to mention the soups, such as the one with liver and cheese, which was already known in the 17th century as sopa aragonesa (Aragonese soup).
There is an abundance of fine wines in Aragón. In any bar or tavern, you will be sure to find exceptional examples. The best-known wine nationally is the Cariñena, which has an alcohol content of 18 degrees - so beware.
Amongst the desserts, pears in wine should be tried as well as Aragonese candied or chocolate-covered fruit, guirlache and turrón (almond paste).
History Aragón has been inhabited since prehistoric times and there are dolmens, megalithic monuments and cave paintings all over the region to prove it – especially in the Pyrenees area.
The capital was founded by the Romans around 24BC and was originally named Caesaraugusta. In fact, the Roman walls and theatre can still be seen today. After the Visigoths came the Muslims around 714 AD who brought with them a long period of splendour, as typified by the Palace of Aljafería in Zaragoza. In 1137 Aragón united with the county of Barcelona following the marriage of Queen Petronila with Raimundo Berenguer.
Their successors extended the territory to include la Provenza, Rosellón, Montpellier, Teruel and finally the Baleares (1229-1243) and Valencia (1238). The marriage of Fernando of Aragón with Isabel of Castile in 1469 was a very important event in Spanish history as it united these two major crowns and paved the way for the political unification of Spain as well as the eventual expulsion of the Arabs upon the conquest of Granada. It was also the precursor to the Spanish adventures in the New World. Finally, in 1833, a new partition of the territory meant the division of Aragón into three provinces: Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel.
Culture Teruel: Apart from the famous festivals which draw the greatest number of visitors - the Pilar in Zaragoza, Sanlorenzos in Huesca and the Jamón in Teruel - there are others which are also very firmly established such as Corpus Cristi, the festival of Santa Orosia and Holy Week (The Holy Week processions including over 1,500 drums and bass drums are famous). Around the middle of September Albarracín celebrates El Santo Cristo de la Vega. Also very popular are the typical "Mayos". In the first fortnight of September Alcañiz fairs and celebrations with a romeria (a festive-religious excursion) of the Virgin of Los Pueyos. Handicrafts Handicrafts in Aragón are closely related to the Mudejar world and today the taste and norms of those times still prevail. Alhama de Aragón, Ateca, Calanda, Naval, Bandaliés and Sigena are all important for their pottery.
Capella, Cadrete, Fraga, Magallón, Mora de Rubielos and Muel stand out for their ceramics.Teruel has also been declared a Pilot Province of the Crafts. Representative crafts include, amongst others, ceramics, wrought iron, marquetry, wicker, embossing and textiles.
Monuments The Mudéjar style is widely found in the province: the tower of San Martín Church and the entrance to the sacristy in San Martín del Río; the tower of La Asunción Church in Báguena; the old tower of La Inmaculada Church in Santa Eulalia del Campo; the lovely, famous octagonal tower of La Asunción Church in Muniesa; the Church of Santa María la Mayor in Montalbán, one of the most interesting Mudéjar churches in Aragón, and the tower of La Asunción Church in Albalate del Arzobispo.
One of the most noteworthy examples, however, must be the artistic complex of the Mudejar Towers, now declared part of World Heritage by UNESCO. Zaragoza: Architectural jewels include the Palace of the Aljaferia in Zaragoza and the Seo, in which Romanesque Gothic Mudejar and Barroque styling go hand in hand in perfect harmony.
During the 16th century the city of Zaragoza underwent an intense urban and economic growth and the travellers who visited it at this time speak of the beauty of its buildings, its wealth and cosmopolitanism. It was then that the design of the typical Aragonese palace was consolidated and would serve for many centuries to follow. The particular features of these palaces are the façades and courtyards, and fine examples can be found in the Palaces of La Lonja, Don Lope, the Counts of Morata, Sástago, as well as the Courtyard of La Infanta and the facade of the Church of Santa Engracia, the latter having royal patronage.
The predominance of civil architecture during the 16th century was followed by that of religious architecture during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Activities This is one of the undiscovered areas of Spain, yet one of the most beautiful. It is worthwhile making time to explore this land of contrasts. It is sure to provoke a pleasant surprise for the traveller. Preface
Romantic Hotels in Aragón
- Agroturismo + Royetes
- Casa de San Martín
- Casa Muria
- Hotel Almud
- La Torre del Visco
- Mas de la Serra
- Villa de Alquezar
Romantic & boutique hotels by city in Aragón
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