Huesca temática

Number 90. November of 2005Spanish language Principal menu


A Landscape and History
in the Sobrarbe's region.

     Village of the province of Huesca, capital of the region of Sobrarbe. It has around 800 inhabitants. Its height is of 589 meters on the level of the sea. It's from Huesca 118 kilometers. Its inhabitans are named: ainsetanos.
      It is necessary to arrive at the heart of the landscape and of history. The route is deeply evocative, from Huesca to Barbastro and from Barbastro to El Grado. Moreover, Naval, Abizanda, Samitier, Mediano submerged in waters, ..... The legendary kingdom of Sobrarbe is opened in an ample panoramic, with its seventy towns grouped in twenty municipalities. "The name of Sobrarbe -explain the historians-, must to that this region was on the mountain range of Arbe, extended from the banks of the Cinca river to Alquézar ". On (sobre, encima) Arbe, then, to arrive at the definitive contraction of Sobrarbe (sobre Arbe)
     But it is verified that the landscape and history is not enough to retain the men, because the zone lost inhabitants of alarming way. As much, that the density of population got to reach hardly the three inhabitants by Km2. Nevertheless, L'Ainsa is in the top, on triumphant rocks, in the confluence of the Cinca and Ara rivers, the second tributary of first river, contemplating like the waters are based on an interminable kiss, languid and deep, like running of the centuries. La Aínsa, with article ahead, because this is the correct toponymy, or well L'Aínsa, in attention to that fabla (region languague) still conserves in the place a small redoubt.
     Two streets and one singular square, next to the castle, give life to the primitive urban central area that presides over the magnificent and huge landscape, framed in the horizon that close majestic the summits of Peña Montañesa, or Las Tres Sorores, or the Tres Marías, or the mountain range of the Tucas. It depends on the direction that one chooses, because Aínsa is the center that radiates around to be multiplied in routes that without a doubt will tempt the traveller: Bielsa and Pineta, Plan and San Juan de Plan (Gistaín or Gistau), valley of Benasque (by Foradada del Toscar, the gigantic shade of Monte Perdido like bottom), Boltaña, Broto, Biescas, in the denominated Pyrenees route that includes the national park of Ordesa.
      It is said that it is the old capital of the legendary kingdom of Sobrarbe. The one of legendary is because of this fact it has only stayed as testimony the legend of San Juan de la Peña, and moreover, the modern historians put in doubt the existence of this kingdom. The case is that, according to the legend of San Juan de la Peña, García Jiménez (or Garci Ximénez) was named the first king of Sobrarbe, and as such he decided to attack the Moors in La Aínsa. This is the story that offers to us Jose Augusto Sanchez Pérez in his book "The kingdom of Aragón":
      García, to the front of his 300 soldiers, fell by surprise on Aínsa, taking advantage of the shades at night, and to the following morning he harangued his troops and assured to them that the Divine Providence was of his part by to have seen a cross on an oak tree, ordered to them that you would implorasen to God and San John the Baptist and was sent with them to new incursions by the next towns and to fortify the city of Aínsa, declaring it capital of the kingdom of Sobrarbe. To this tradition it must that in the shield of Sobrarbe exists the Red Cross on an oak, and that, since it shall be seen more ahead, this will be one of the quarters of the historical shield of Aragón. García Jiménez reigned from year 716 until he died in 758, and never he used the title of king of Aragón, although he has had historians who have affirmed it. He was buried in the sanctuary of San Juan de la Peña".
     The cross of Sobrarbe is offered in monument form, to two Kms. of the population. Aínsa appears mentioned, historically, in 1055; nevertheless, its true historical documentation begins with the law of the repopulation granted by Alfonso the Fighting in 1124. The primitive castle also dates of this same time, although soon was extended with a fortress of principles of century XVI. Among its owners it is necessary to write down to Beltrán de Labarsa, Pelegrín de Castellazol and Berenguer de Atienza, between years 1135 and 1190. Since century XIII the population experienced an extraordinary splendor and received such privileges as Jaca, for this reason became head of of Sobrarbe, with Boltaña like its village.

      Guitart Aparicio offers the following description to us: "Walled Village and excellently located, it had category of fortress from the last years of the reign of Felipe II, with object to defend the Pyrenees border of the irruptions of French. A document of 1593 registers the presence of the Italian engineer Tiburcio Spanocci -designer of the citadel of Jaca and the barrier of the Aljafería of Saragossa-, that visited Aínsa and Benasque by order of Alonso de Vargas, general of Felipe II. Thus it arose the great fortress that we see, at the cost of demolishing sixty houses of the village, and it was finished in 1610, judging by the testimony of Labaña.
     Down, in the plain, the traveller find the modern central area of the Aínsa, where rise the buildings of apartments and open the stores for tourists, with its doors wide. In summer it seems a beach place. Up, in the crag, the oldcentral area forms a monumental joint with the singular fortress. They are, then, two urban central areas perfectly differentiated. In the height dominates still the history and the art, with the parade ground of the castle that marks the direction of huge greater square- the Spain one-, one of oldest of the country that has portico, with porches of romanesque-gothic style. The stone buildings sing the eternal poem of the times. In the Consistorial House the access arc is opened to the high street. By another of the angles the romanesque tower of the parochial church of Santa Maria de Bull is shown, the old colegiata. The singular historical-artistic collection -declared thus in 1965- is offered recovered by the General Directorate of Architecture, according to the study and direct supervision of Francisco Pons Sorolla.
  A Door to the old central area
     Two streets trim the square: the one of Gonzalo I and the one of Santa Cruz. In its confluence there is a little square that receives the name of the Salvador. They are still the arcs of the Escalereta (little stairs) and the Hospital, in addition to already mentioned to the Greater square, and the vestibules of Fontela, Abajo (Down) and Afuera (Outside). There is another one, next to the castle. The church was consecrated in 1181. Its construction began at the end of century XI and concluded in second half of the XII. At 30 of March of year 1974 was made the consecration of the greater altar and crypt, first in honor of Santa Maria, and the second, to Santa Cruz. In addition to crypt, has a great interest the cloister, where the Romanesque and gothic styles are conjugated in its total purity. All the historical-artistic joint deserves a good attention. The description cannot replace, in this case, whatever the reality shows.
      La Aínsa celebrates dances of "the Morisma", dedicated a the celebration of Santa Cruz, the 14 of September. It is a singular dance, different from whatever exists in Aragón, that keeps great similarity with those from the Valencian kingdom in its representations of Moors and Christians. Even with influence of the classic ones of shepherds, in the spectacle appear the same king Garci Jiménez, the general Moor, the queen Moor and the Christian queen. They do not lack, as it is logical, the rabadán (foreman) and the mayoral (another foreman), in addition to the sin, ally of Lucifer, and the angel. The battle against the Moors is narrated, in whom Garci Jiménez saw a light in the sky, and appear in the text the villages of the old Sobrarbe, such as Labuerda, San Vicente, El Pueyo, La Fueba, Banastón, Araguás, Cagigosa, Labayo and Montpellier. It is pretended, in a battle, the conquest of the castle, and a shepherd announces that he starts off to Jaca and San Juan de la Peña to communicate the victory to Christians.
      The maneuvers of the battle is long, with intervention of two armies and its generals to horse. Ainsa celebrates annually, from the 13 to the 17 of September, its celebrations in honor to the Exaltación of Santa Cruz. But all occasion is good to justify the visit.

 To see some photographs from this place ....
* Aragón Town to Town, of Alfonso Zapater

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