Aragon has an infinite number of castles due to its history, today we are going to tell you some secrets of the best preserved castle in Europe.
Loarre is undoubtedly one of our jewels in the heritage of the province, the location is already in itself a wall against possible attacks, a thousand meters high is a nest of eagles.
“Loarre is the prototype of the castles of Spain” said Luis Zueco in an interview, author of the novel, “El Castillo” (Ediciones B), which details how the feat of building this imposing castle was carried out a thousand years ago.
It is not a palace or a castle like the castles of the Loire or the Rhine, the castles of Spain are fortresses and this is seen in its structure and layout, fortresses designed to house a garrison, and designed for war, to defend a territory, in this case is part of the defensive line with Pamplona.
1- A location designed to defend and to increase the desire for conquest.
It was built there at the top, where the mountain ended and the plain began, “la Hoya de Huesca”. And it was done so that they could see what they could not conquer yet, and increase the desire to take it, they saw the positions of the Muslims in Bolea and Ayerbe.
2- It is the best preserved Romanesque castle in Europe. It maintains its original architectural structure, which belongs to the Romanesque style of the 11th century.
3- The castle was built by Sancho III el Mayor for military purposes, as part of the defensive line that protected the domains of the kingdom of Pamplona, but it was never used in battle, which explains how well preserved it is.
4- Lombard masters were in charge of building the primitive castle. They built it with ashlars (stone as bricks).
5. Sancho Ramírez is the one who gives it the definitive impulse. Sancho Ramírez, in those days vassal of Pamplona, travels to Rome and returns as a direct vassal of Rome, and adopts the Roman rite. One of the first masses in the Roman rite would be in this castle, the first was in the monastery of San Juan de la Peña.
6- When entering the castle we find carved in the columns 3 monkeys, one covering his eyes, another one his mouth and another one his ears, it was a symbol that meant that everything that happened inside the castle nobody could say, comment, nor speak about what happened in the castle.
7- The Augustinian order introduced the Romanesque style. Sancho Ramírez, on his return from Rome, ordered the construction of a church, for which space had to be gained in the mountain. It then became a religious-military space, where monks and soldiers coexisted in the enclosure, without crossing each other, long before the religious orders.
8- The 82 capitals of the church that he ordered to be built were made by master sculptors from Toulouse. Among the capitals you can find a mermaid…
9- A dog carved at the entrance of the crypt symbolizing the guardian of the castle.
10- Sancho Ramírez commissioned the construction of a crypt to house the relics of Saint Demetrius. The remains of Saint Demetrius miraculously reached the church, according to tradition.
10+1 There is no self-respecting castle without a ghost.
And Loarre is not going to be less and for lack of one it has two: Abbess of Loarre and Count Don Julián.
They say that the ghost of the Abbess of Loarre wanders the corridors of Loarre. “Legend has it that at one point when there is a military conflict that takes over the Abbess of Loarre, falls prisoner and locked in the dungeons of the castle. One night the body disappears and they say that since then on the night of San Juan the ghost of the abbess can be seen wandering its corridors.” ( Huesca La Magia)
They say that within its walls died Count Don Julian was buried at the entrance of the church, as a traitor, for having opened the gates of the Peninsula to Muslims, being buried there is trampled upon entering.