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Holidays in Aragon (Zaragoza, Teruel, Huesca)
The region of Aragon can be found in northeastern Spain and comprises the provinces of Zaragosa, Huesca and Teruel. The region lies approximately with the historic kingdom of Aragon and is bounded to the north by France; the south by Valencia; the east by Catalonia and on the west by the regions of Castilla la Mancha, Castilla Leon, Navarre and La Rioja. The official spoken language in Aragon is Castilian Spanish, although in some of the valleys of the Pyrenees it is possible to hear the original language of Aragonese.
Aragon is traversed by the river Ebro, which offers fish of such numbers and proportions that the Ebro is considered one of the best locations in Europe for Cat and Carp fishing. With a population of just over 1.3 million people living in Aragon, and half of them living in the capital city of Zaragoza, the region is mostly deserted with beautiful, mountainous scenery to the north, and mainly barren land in the south.
The greatest peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains can be found in Aragon with Aneto, the highest of them all, being found in the province of Huesca. In amongst the mountains can be found some beautiful secluded valleys, which remain largely un-spoilt due to their inaccessibility. Spread thinly through the valleys and plains can be found small towns and churches with great views of the rugged landscape.
The region of Aragon has three provinces whose capital cities Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel take the same names as their province. There are many, small towns all across the region, and especially in the province of Teruel where out of the 236 municipalities, more than half the villages have a population of fewer than 200 people. In-between the villages the land is mostly deserted and quite barren.
Zaragoza, capital of Aragon
The huge Plaza del Pilar is the social centre of Zaragoza, looked over by some wonderful old monuments and fine fountains. Here can be found the Basílica del Pilar; whose domes and towers dominate the city and this is where legend has it the Virgin Mary appeared. To the west of the city centre can be found the La Aljaferia palace. An Islamic-fortress, it was once the residence of Arab kings and later by Christian kings, Aragonese kings and then by Spanish monarchs. Nowadays, the building houses Aragon's regional parliament.
Aragon Monasterio de San Juan de la Peña
Located 30km southwest of Jaca, this monastery church that is dedicated to saint John, is situated beneath a huge overhanging rock. The monastery has had special significance since Muslim times where pilgrims would stop here in the hope of viewing the Holy Grail, a Roman chalice which was hidden somewhere in the monastery. The Roman chalice is now on view in Valencia Cathedral. The lower church represents the heart of the monastery that was founded in 920. On the second floor is the Pantheon where can be seen the tombs of noblemen from both Aragon and Navarre. Inside the apse of the High Church of San Juan can be seen a replica of the Holy Grail which was kept inside the walls to protect it against Muslim invasion.
Ordesa National Park
Declared a national park in 1918, an area of more than 15,600 hectares is now protected in the Biosphere Reserve or Ordesa as declared by UNESCO is 1997. Most of the park is limestone and a retreating glacier still exists on the north face of Monte Pedido, the third largest mountain in the Pyrenees. The park's dramatic mountain scenery comprises of limestone cliffs, canyons, caves, chasms and crystal-clear streams with forests of pine, birch, ash, willow and oak. Great birds fly the skies including the royal eagle, hawks, royal owls, ospreys and the snow partridge, while on the ground can be seen the marmot, wild boar, chamois and the red deer. The park is open all year round but the months between April and October offer the best conditions for walking and hiking.
Aragon is a wonderful region of Spain to visit. The Pyrenees Mountains offer wonderful dramatic scenery to the north and the ancient cities of Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca have many important historical buildings. If you are looking for a different holiday experience in Spain, Aragon may just be the location of choice.
About the Author: Steve Greenwood has lived in Torrox on the south coast of Spain for 3 years. You are invited to visit Holiday Apartment Rentals in Spain for holiday attractions and things to do in Aragon. Visit Ideal Rentals (http://www.idealrentals4u.com) for information on all the regions of Spain.