Huesca thematic

Number 83. April of 2005. Spanish language  Principal menu

Huesca Cathedral Square

Old geographical
tactical and defensive center of the city

      If there is one urban space which can define the course of Huesca's history, it is the present-day cathedral square. Pre-eminently raised over the rest of the buildings, it is the strategic basis of the secular urban fabric which lies at its leer. In few cities is it possible as it is in Huesca to clearly specify an arena in which all urban events have wished to congregate with such force. It is a space which synthesises the meaning and significance of a millennial city which has managed to keep its essence from its remote beginnings up to the present-day. As the geometrical centre of the city's original outline, the cathedral square has always formed the crossroads of the city's main thoroughfares, and can be considered as the nerve centre of the rhythms delimiting the variegated pattern of the city's streets.
      Once stripped of the buildings which now loom large, ir is possible to imagine the geographical origins of the site, and clearly imagine its dominance over its extensive surrounding territory. This singular spot in the area round about was chosen from the beginning by those who wanted to establish themselves in the territory. A privileged place, essential to the fulfilment of a defensive role and decidedly propitious for the foundation of a centre for encounters on which to develop a community with pretensions to stability. This was the tactical basis of the beginnings of pre-urban Huesca. After centuries of disparate attempts, the site vitally contributed to the shaping of lberian Bolscan through a yet rudimentary system of gathering together inhabited cells around a nucleus guaranteeing their defence.
      The Romans later made this space the fulcrum of the new fortified acropolis, centre of an urban structure which possessed, in the present-day cathedral square, the necessary point of reference for the raising of their finest buildings, lts layout is still in the realms of supposition; little of nothing is known of the structure of construction in the area, but we do know of other, similar formations in other cities, which lead us to speculate that the only site in Huesca capable of fulfilling the role of fomm, focal point for urban activity in Roman Osca, is the place at the cathedral square, where the main roads through the first walled enclosure were to meet. The archaeological remains which have come down to us through time, and a few pieces of sculpture of considerable size, allow us to calculate the size of the civil and religious buildings which must have existed on this site.
      Moorish Wasqa went beyond the first defensive enclosure and developed its new walled ring taking the square as its referente point, and building its main mosque there, without doubt on the remains of the ancient Roman temple. Once again the space becomes the focal point of the complex Islamic framework, once again taking on the function that had characterised its past and a situation that had already been consolidated by the passage of time and which was to be assimilated by the Christian conquest.

      The first period of medieval Huesca saw the old mosque turned into a cathedral, still without any plan to substitute it in the short term, but the plain Romanesque faqade soon appeared and later gave way to the present gothic building, constantly developed from the 8th century on until it became the magnificent building we can see today.
      The cathedral square from then on becomes the modern city's most prominent public space, its urban presente definitively consolidated. It plays host to the religious and political events that give ir meaning and in the 16th century the seat of Huesca City Council is located there, in the notable building which survives to this day. It would be the confirmation of the place's primordial urban function, uniting in one space the representatives of the essence of Huesca. The square takes on a singular symbolism; a blend of the city's spiritual and temporal powers. This very same dignity has, however, obstructed the investigation of the ground underneath.
      The successive construction of the most important buildings in the city denies us the chance to confirm with convincing evidence the reasoned conjectures on which we should be basing ourselves. We would find the superposition of layers, without doubt revealing the glorious past of a space which is presently one of the most attractive in the city, enjoying a stability which flourishes in the tranquillity of its urban presente. Looking on, together with the facades of the cathedral and the town hall, is the new Bishop's Palace, the Colegio Imperial de Santiago, assigned to the old university, the simple, historicist building of the Servants of Mary the North side, and, closing the angle, the Canonry, with its graceful upper arcaded gallery. Rectangular, tidy and permitting a frontal view of the West door of the cathedral; all adding up to Huesca's favourite spot, overflowing with history and meaning
 Plaza de San Pedro
      The Square of the Cathedral, is subjected to special cares of its aspect and hygiene. It constitutes a visit forced for all tourist. It charges a special protagonism the day August 9, eve of San Lorenzo; that day, the youth full until the last corner waiting the cry of the parties and the rocket announcer that the patron saint parties of the city, have begun.


* José Laborda Yneva:" Huesca Guia de Arquitectura"

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