Santiago Routes in Aragon
THE FRENCH ROUTE.
It is the oldest. There is a main route with many branches. Its development conditioned the growth of Aragón, and it is lined with beautiful landscapes and ancient and lovely Medieval monuments.
The oldest entrance to Aragón through the Pyrenees was the Roman road that crossed the Palo pass and went down Echo Valley, where the Carolingian monastery of San Pedro de Siresa was built. The important Romanesque church has been conserved; it was the spiritual centre of the primitive Realm. That road, as well as the parallel one through Ansó Valley, goes through beautiful spots such as Zurita or la Selva de Oza and picturesque villages like Ansó and Echo.
Once this main route was established, the ones that
crossed the Pyrenees and got to Huesca were developed. The one
that enters through Portalet goes down the pretty Tena Valley
to Sabiñánigo, next to the Romanesque-Mozarabic
churches of Gavín, Oliván, Susín, Busa and
Lárrede, from which you get either to Jaca or to Huesca.
Bielsa tunnel gives access to the best preserved Pyrenean landscapes,
the National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido. It is accessible
from L’Aínsa, a town that conserves its Medieval
lay-out, with a castle, streets, squares and a Romanesque church
with a solid tower. From here you can choose to approach the Sanctuary
of Torreciudad and Barbastro going through Naval and el Grado,
or follow the amazing route that crosses the Natural Park of the
Sierra and Canyons of Guara, of unusual beauty, visiting two Lombard-Romanesque
monuments, Obarra monastery and the Collegiate church of Roda
de Isábena, a very interesting Medieval town. Next to Graus,
Barasona reservoir offers multiple possibilities for the tourist.
In Barbastro the splendid Renaissance cathedral, the museum and
many buildings from the same period recommend a walk through the
city. The whole area is famous because of its wines with denominación
de origen (officially certified typical local product) of Somontano.
THE CATALAN ROUTE.
Then it follows the course of the river Ebro, and connects with the traditional route to Santiago de Compostela in Huesca. One of the branches reaches Barbastro and then Huesca, looking for the route of Puente La Reina, after crossing the area of Litera and passing under the high castle of Monzón. Huesca, Roman city, and Arab afterwards, of great strategical importance, conserves its walls as well as splendid Romanesque works, such as San Pedro el Viejo, or Gothic, like the Cathedral. Besides, its old quarter invites visitors to stroll around streets full of history. Another branch enters Aragón through Fraga, which conserves the remains of a Roman villa, Villa Fortunatus, and several Renaissance buildings. From here you can reach Huesca passing by the Romanesque monastery of Santa María de Sijena, with a spectacular façade with fourteen archivolts, and by Sariñena and its lake, of great ornithological richness. Then you can choose between continuing towards Huesca or going back to the valley in the direction of Zaragoza, crossing Alcubierre Sierra, covered with woods of pine trees and sabinas (Juniperus Thurifera). The other option coincides with the national road II, through Monegros steppe, a landscape of wild beauty and biological importance because of its singularity. Once in Zaragoza, the route follows the course of the river along the fertile Ebro banks to Tudela. Zaragoza offers the pilgrim all the facilities of a big city, together with a cultural heritage 2.000 years old: Roman, in its walls; Muslim, in the Aljafería; Medieval, in La Seo; Mudejar, in San Pablo, San Miguel and la Magdalena; Renaissance, in la Lonja, Santa Engracia and its many palaces; Baroque and closely related to the Virgin’s worship in el Pilar; Neoclassical; Modernist; Contemporary... everything together leaving no place for weariness.
THE VALENCIAN ROUTE.
This route crosses sierras of wild natural beauty and historical interest, well-preserved as well as depopulated, but hiding treasures that are highly enjoyable. Then it goes northbound to the Ebro Valley. The first branch comes from Castellón and enters the Maestrazgo, an intricate sierra of high landscapes and beautiful villages full of history: Mosqueruela, La Iglesuela del Cid, Cantavieja or Mirambel. From Alcañiz, crowned with a Calatrava castle, and presided by the Renaissance Town Hall and the Gothic Lonja, it continues to Zaragoza passing by the Iberian ruins of Azaila and following the course of the river Ebro.
Or it follows the Monegros route after visiting
Caspe, next to the big Mequinenza reservoir, a fishing paradise,
at the foot of a castle. Another route coming from the Ebro delta
arrives in Caspe as well, going through Calaceite and Alcañiz
and connecting again with the river in the Cistercian monastery
of Rueda. From Sagunto and Valencia, the route follows the course
of the tiver Turia to Teruel, a city declared World’s Heritage
by the UNESCO. It is the best example of the Mudejar art, with
the outstanding cathedral, with its dome and coffered ceiling,
and the slender and beautiful towers of San Pedro, San Martín
and el Salvador. An alternative route branches off towards Castilla,
through the wooded Sierra of Albarracín and passes under
the Arab walls of this picturesque town, whose visit is highly
recommended. The route that goes to Zaragoza follows the Roman
road parallel to the river Jiloca, passing by the Roman bridges
of Calamocha and Luco de Jiloca. This is a good occasion to taste
Teruel’s ham, with denominación de origen (officially
certified typical local product). In Daroca, impressive Mudejar
city with neverending walls, a road leads to Zaragoza through
Campo de Cariñena, where an excellent wine with denominación
de origen is produced. Another road takes us to Calatayud, with
Arab name and full of Mudejar monuments; from this area, producer
of wines with denominación de origen, we arrive in Castilla
through Soria or in Zaragoza through an excellent motorway. So,
the Santiago route in Aragón comprises three main routes
with different origins in which there are plenty of references
to Santiago, and many paths that make the pilgrim discover the
varied landscape and the ancient cultural heritage of Aragón