Graus and Albarracín
The legendary capital of the region of La Ribagorza, located in the heart Pyrenees, it stretches back many years. It has the titles of “Very Noble and Very Ancient” meaning there is plenty to cover discovering many locations where you can get a glimpse of life in eras gone by. Excite your curiosity at some incredible places of historical significance.
Graus: The heart of the Ribagorza
Graus is internationally renowned because of two basic products: its truffle industry and “Longaniza” a kind of sausage.
A few eighty kilometers from the capital of Huesca, towards the north, Graus serves as a gateway to the Ribagorza and as a starting point to know the Natural Park Posets-Maladeta, the Valley of Benasque, Ordesa National Park and other important protected areas of the Pyrenees. But it is very worthwhile to explore all its charms.
To its artistic resources must be added the natural environment surrounding Graus mainly focused on the river Ésera and the reservoir of Barasona.
Its urban area extends at the foot of the Peña del Morral (crag), under the shelter of the Sanctuary of La Peña, one of the architectural references of the town that dominates the whole town. We must also point out the high street “Calle Mayor” that appears arcaded in some of its sections and houses interesting buildings located mainly in the Town Hall Square. This beautiful 16th century Mudejar brick building has been reproduced in the Spanish town of Barcelona.
But one of the greatest attractions of Graus is the artistic richness of its religious constructions.
Of all of them is the “Basílica de la Virgen de la Peña” the top-rated and visited tourist spot. The building was built in the 16th century and is distinguished by its location and its great interior space. We don’t muss forget its important work of stonework and impressive cover. It consists of a starry-ribbed vault and a square-shaped bell tower, although it adopts hexagonal shape at the top.
Another of the important parochial churches is the one dedicated to San Miguel, an important Romanesque work that keeps in its interior some important Gothic panels altarpieces and a valuable cross of the Middle Ages.
The oldest neighborhood of Barrichós keeps many examples of civil architecture which include manor houses like the Mur or that of Solanas, both from the 16th century, located in Coreche Square.
At the end of the district, in the Plaza de Fantón (square) it is founded the the homonymous house. A well-preserved and total ornamental sobriety construction. Here ended the urban enclosure of Graus with the gate of Barbastro, also known as Chinchín.
Buddhism in the Valley of Ésera River
The town of Panillo hosts a curious and increasingly frequented Buddhist temple (Dag Shang Kagyu) founded in 1984 by S.E. KaluRimponché. Since then, it has become a highly sought resort where the ritual monument that symbolizes the awakened and omniscient spirit of Buddha stands out. No doubt, it is a place whose visit astonishes the most restless of travellers.
Sausage with Proper Name
Of all the countless foodstuffs products made in Graus, “Longaniza de Graus” (sausage from Graus) stands out undoubtedly. It is a food product almost considered as a souvenir whose elaboration maintains a strict commitment to the cooking steps used for years.
Made of natural ingredients and cured innatural drying. Natural ingredients are used and cured in driers under the shelter of the highest peaks in the Pyrenees. It gives as a result a characteristic and distinctive sausage. In its elaboration there is no shortage of lean meat of pork and bacon, jowl or bacon. You can also use condiments and spices, which can be common: salt, pepper, oregano, nutmeg, anise or scented wines, among others, except paprika.
There are large and well-known firms in charge of producing excellent products besides sausage. This is the case of names like Aventín or Melsa, both were awarded with the distinctive “C” Food Quality.
Sausage Festival Graus entered The Guinness Book in 1996 with the development of the world´s sausage.
It boasts of being one of the main tourist spots in our community. In its historical ensemble shows a truly unique and beautiful city with more history than you could shake a stick. The majesty of the stone constructions is melted with the nooks and crannies of its streets and squares.
Albarracín is a world apart, an evocative place, a legendary oasis that instils pride of its past and affection to the future. It is a magnet to visitors, which preserves its historical identity doing it, as a city of undisputed beauty.
Ramble from Plaza Mayor Square
Forget your car! To plan a visit to Albarracín it is better to leave the car in the lower part of the village where there are several parking areas and take the accesses that lead to the historic city centre.
It can be reached by the “Cuesta de Teruel”, next to the imposing school of Escolapios, or by the stairs that surround the tunnel and that lead to the street Azagra, one of the routes that lead to the Plaza Mayor, the epicenter of the locality and starting point of our visit.
The most representative building of the square is the town hall, dated in the 14th century, and whose reproduction is located in the Spanish town of Barcelona.
From the square, we head towards the “Portal de Molina” street, one of the narrow arteries of the historic quarter that opens on the “Plaza de la Comunidad” where one of the oldest buildings in the city stands, an old noble house.
Right in front of this square is the Portal del Agua, one of the doors of the wall that allows you to descend to the river. But before arriving at the square, on the right, crossing a small street, we arrive at the garden viewpoint from which a magnificent view of the Cathedral and the castle is contemplated.
Taking the Plaza Mayor again as a starting point, we can also take the Azagra Street, a narrow way in which it seems that the roofs of the houses come even to rub. As if it were a river, Azagra Street receives many tributaries. Of all of them stands out the alley of the Postigo where the House of the Navarros of Arzuriaga and the Brigadier are located. El Chorro Street is another of these cobbled streets that exalts the splendid medieval panorama of this city designated national Monument and wished-for by UNESCO as a monument of world interest.
Places of Interest
- Cathedral: The only construction of great size that Albarracín has built around the year 1200 in the highest part of the city, in the site of the old Muslim mosque. It stands out for its impressive main altar, a crossed by the inner side streets that border the covered nave. The bell tower, chapels, cloister and vaults give way to other magnificent spaces such as the Palace of Exhibitions and Congresses, and the Diocesan Museum. A must-see visit.
- Episcopal Palace: The visit to the palace is usually astonished to contemplate the monumental staircase, topped in Torre-skylight, and on whose roof appears the coat of arms of Bishop Juan Francisco Salvador and Gilaberte. On the upper floor there are rooms that serve as a residence to the prelate, along with the chapel decorated with naive paintings. On the side looking towards the river it has a beautiful wooden gallery.
- Church of Santa Maria: It is the oldest Christian temple in the city. The chapels, the Plateresque style vault, the pulpit and the main altarpiece stand out as the most dazzling spaces.
- Church of Santiago: Located in the historic centre of Albarracín, the temple has a single nave covered with starry vault. The altarpiece painted on tables dedicated to San Roque, San Sebastián and San Fabián is particularly important.
- Monastery of San Bruno and San Esteban: It belongs to the cloistered Dominican nuns and is in the Vega de Albarracín (fertile plain). From its small church stand out some 17th century altarpieces, as well as a unique piece of Spanish Colonial Filipino Art: An ivory that represents the family tree of the Savior.
Don’t forget to visit the hermitage Cristo de la Vega is located next to the monastery.
Hunting, mushrooming and truffle hunting
In Aragon there are some defined areas for hunting, different differentiated between them by the type of hunting and reserve. Within what are considered national hunting reserves, highlight the areas of the Garcipollera and Anayet in the Huesca Pyrenees. On the other hand, regional hunting reserves are concentrated in the valleys of Biñamala and Benasque also in the Pyrenean mountain range, and the Universal Mountains and Beceite in Teruel.
The recreational game reserves are in the province of Teruel, specifically in Javalambre, and in Los Monegros and the Campo de Belchite in Zaragoza. And concerning controlled hunting areas, the environment of Gallocanta in Zaragoza and Castelfrío and Más del Tarín in Teruel, are the main areas. Finally, other hunting spaces in our community are in Castejón, Berdejo, Jaulín, Calmarza and Fuendetodos.
The most important markets in the country are Graus and Mora de Rubielos, along with Vic and Morella, the latter outside Aragon, so our community has a privileged position in the National Truffle Sector. And so, in the station of Mora de Rubielos, even, the price of the truffle is settled in Spain.
The province of Teruel is the first national truffles producer in which the most intense activity is recorded in Maestrazgo, Sierra de Gúdar, Javalambre and mountainous areas of Bajo Aragón and Matarraña.
Moving now to lands of Huesca, the most recognized truffle areas are the Ribagorza, Sobrarbe, Benabarre, Ainsa and, of course, Graus with an absolute supremacy.
The most important area in Aragon, although there are many other areas, is in the Pyrenees. It displays a wide range of species in every one of the valleys that form the Cordillera in Huesca. But Huesca also offers other areas to mushrooming. All of them include the Somontano Huesca, the Peña de Guara and Carrodilla.
The province of Zaragoza is commanded by an important mycological source that congregates next to the mountainous massif of the Moncayo. For many, a paradise of mushrooms and Fungi.
And in Teruel, Albarracín offers an excellent natural market of supplies where to find many varieties of these small delicacies.
Both the Graus area and the Sierra de Albarracín display a wide gastronomy with a commitment to locally sourced ingredients and which develops according to the tourist demand. From wholesome natural dishes to the very best of modern cooking, visitors to these areas, properties be assured of the very best in Aragones Cuisine.
In any case, these referents offer a cuisine based on seasonal products using locally sourced ingredients at a wide range of prices, that cater to any type of public. It depends on every traveler choice.
Although it is believed that the best time to find mushrooms is Autumn, there are species that appear in spring and others that can be collected equally in the coldest days of winter.
It is also thought that the best time on a day, to pick them up, it is at the crack of down. The truth is that we can catch them all day, but the first hour in the morning offers the advantage that you can find mushrooms before the insects have taken their part. When collecting them it is recommended to include a guide with which to be familiar to avoid confusion and thus to distinguish all the existing kinds of fungi. If you do not know the world of mycology, it is advisable to go together with an expert who advises you. In this way, you will avoid any of those frights that unfortunately continue to happen. The best way to catch a fungus is to twist it gently until it is released. However, there are times when it is necessary to use a knife to remove the earth around it. Once at home make sure you know exactly what you have taken and make sure before you prepare it.
Walks With History
The Cultural Park of Albarracín is one of the Levantine rock art ensembles of the most important in the country due to the variety of figures and styles that appear in the more than 45,000 hectares it occupies.
It represents an interesting landscape to check first hand samples of prehistoric Neolithic or Bronze Age art, among others. Its walks and corners keep magnificent artistic samples.
In this region there are four cave groups that are joined by the road that leads from Albarracín to Bezas and from there to Tormón by a forest track. Of all the ensembles highlights “El Rodeno de Albarracín” located four kilometres from this last town and where there is a greater number of coats, or what is the same, shallow cavities outdoors. It is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
The protected landscape of Rodeno is an inescapable place for any tour of this Sierra Teruel. The multiplicity of rocky forms, some of them of considerable dimensions, joins the flora, fauna and the prehistoric archaeological legacy that form a singular geological landscape of which there is no need to lose any detail. From the viewpoint we will contemplate a spectacular view where we observe the most advisable of this protected space.
Extreme Sports and leisure activities
The magnificent natural reserve of Graus allows the practice of extreme sports in high mountains, whitewater, calm and other means very close to this locality. Next to the reservoir of Barasona some companies offer sailing courses for beginners or for those with some experience, canoeing or waterskiing, among others. In addition, in the river Ésera we can practice the descent of ravines or canyon or rafting. And meanwhile, for the little ones, some activities such as: archery, equestrian climbing are available.
For this reason, Graus is a well-known destination for extreme sports lovers. It is recommended to book these services with specialized companies. It will guarantee the necessary security to avoid unexpected jumps. Please take this fact into account.