There are almost 50. This equation, space and time, and the efforts to preserve its treasures, allow Aragon to enjoy a very extensive and varied heritage, spread throughout its territory, including four sites declared World Heritage by Unesco: Aragonese Mudejar, the Way of St. James, the rock art of the Mediterranean arc and the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido.
“I am not blinded by passion and I think it is spectacular, it cannot be compared with other places”, says Carlos Millán, manager of the Gozarte tourist agency, about this heritage. The expert highlights, at a first glance, the monumental villages that are distributed throughout the geography of the Community, the Romanesque of Huesca, the Mudejar art and the legacy of Goya, “which is essential,” he stresses. “There are many and varied things. And they are distributed, moreover, throughout the territory; that is important,” Millán summarizes.
“The most spectacular Mudejar churches in Spain are not in Seville or Toledo, they are in the surroundings of Calatayud, there is nothing that can be compared to that”, exemplifies the expert on monuments that can be found in places like Torralba de Ribota, Cervera de la Cañada, Tobed, Aluenda or Aniñón.
A tour of the three provinces
Precisely because of its extension and richness, it is difficult to summarize all that Aragon treasures in this area. However, in this difficult exercise, and when asked which places he would recommend to someone who is completely unaware of what the Community has to offer, the manager of Gozarte names, first of all, the Romanesque architecture around the Court of Jaca.
“I don’t care about Jaca, Loarre, San Juan de la Peña, Agüero… everything in the surrounding area, including the Diocesan Museum of Jaca, which is an exceptional jewel,” he explains. “And, above all, we have the Church of Bagüés, which is the largest collection of Romanesque painting in Spain,” he stresses.
He continues his tour with Mudejar art, that of Teruel and, of course, that of the surroundings of Calatayud. “It’s amazing and quite well communicated,” he says about this style that can be enjoyed in different parts of the region of Zaragoza.
The best ambassador: Goya
The next point of his tour of Aragonese heritage comes in Zaragoza capital, its wealth and the influence of Goya. In fact, Millán judges that the painter’s influence on the city is not sufficiently valued, something he summarizes as follows: “There is much more of Goya in Zaragoza than of Velázquez in Seville”. In fact, he considers that the genius of Fuendetodos is the best ambassador of Aragon in the world and that “everything that is done around his figure will be little”.
From the Aragonese capital this tour goes to the province of Teruel, to the region of Matarraña, where there is “the most impressive set of beautiful villages” of the Community. Some municipalities that also blend with the landscape of the area and add their good state of preservation to all the services offered by the hotel and tourism for the visitor.
Its route concludes in the province of Zaragoza, in the surroundings of Tarazona and Moncayo. “Everything comes together there too”, he says about an area that enjoys “a wonderful cathedral”, monuments such as the town hall of Tarazona and, in short, an area that “is getting better and better”. But, in addition, very close is the natural wealth of Moncayo and spaces like the Monastery of Veruela, full of history that includes the passage of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer or legends such as the witches of Trasmoz.
Beyond this small ‘tour’ of Aragon, Millán recalls other unique places in the territory, such as the Sierra de Albarracín or the monumental villages that are scattered all over the map: “We have more than anyone, in any list of the most beautiful villages in Spain, Aragon wins by a landslide,” he says.
World Heritage Sites in several parts of Aragon
He also defines as something “important” the four recognitions as World Heritage granted by Unesco, reflected in various areas of the Community. For example, in Zaragoza there are three buildings included under the umbrella of Aragonese Mudejar, the Aljafería, the church of San Pablo and the cathedral of La Seo. “There should be signs everywhere,” he says.
This style has four spaces in Teruel, the cathedral of Santa María and the churches of San Pedro, San Martín and San Salvador. In the province of Zaragoza, in addition to those already mentioned in the capital, the collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor in Calatayud, the church of La Asunción, in Cervera de la Cañada, and the church of Santa María, in Tobed, bear the Unesco seal.
As for the Way of St. James, the entrance to the Somport peninsula, in Huesca, also opens the way to four stages in Aragon that allow you to enjoy the Romanesque that Millán mentions.
On the other side of the province, in Sobrarbe, the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido adds its natural wealth, with the highest limestone massif in Europe, to its cultural richness, in an area where there are unique towns such as Torla, Bielsa, Broto, Fanlo and Torla.
Finally, the paintings in the caves of Alcañiz and the cultural parks of Albarracín and the Martín river, in Teruel, as well as the natural park of the Vero river, in Huesca, are part of the rock art of the Mediterranean arc.
Millán works with this raw material every day. He explains that the people who come from outside Aragón and contact Gozarte do so mainly to get to know the city of Zaragoza. A phrase he hears regularly is the ‘I didn’t expect it’ that visitors express when they discover the city. “That’s not good news, it’s very bad news,” he stresses, since, if they didn’t expect it, he explains, it’s because they have come “by chance.” “I don’t want them not to expect it, I want them to expect it because, if not, they won’t come,” he sums up.
In that sense, and although he recognizes that in the Community has been restored “much and well”, and that it continues to be done, he considers that more efforts are needed to promote and communicate the historical and artistic treasure of the territory. “That of the good cloth in the ark is sold in the nineteenth century, and our competition has some means for promotion that can not be compared,” he warns.