Picture of river_god Driving into southern Aragon from the Juecar gorge involves a tiny winding gravel road that can be extra slow if you happen to be following two campers. As soon as you cross into Aragon the road becomes paved and not much past that is this oddity. To be completely honest we have no idea what this is. It is located at a small roadside picnic area in the Montes Universales near the headwaters of the Tagus (or Tajo) river. That would be the course of the Tagus etched into that map of Spain next to this statue.
Picture of statue_bull Aha, it gets weirder, there are assorted peripheral statues nearby like the bull here. Also notice the trendy snowflake crown. Anyone who knows more about this odd little monument in the woods, please email us and let us know.
Picture of albarracin So the first real town we hit in Aragon was Albarracin which is an incredible medieval village. It's a town like this that makes you realize how overused the phrase 'medieval village' really is. Albarracin is stretched along a rocky ridge and coming from La Mancha you actually drive through a tunnel under the town. Parking is at the base of the hill and steep staircases wend up into the narrow alleys of the town.
Picture of cobblestone Albarracin has only about 1000 people. From 1012 to 1104 it was the capital city of Banu Razin, a tiny Berber/Islamic nation. From 1170 to 1285 it was an independent Christian nation. Now it is tucked away quietly in an unused portion of Aragon. Actually, there were spaces for tour bus parking in the public parking lot beneath the city but we didn't see any during our visit so we're not sure how often people come here. There isn't a lot of commercial action, just a couple souvenir shops scattered around a handful of hotels and restaurants.
Picture of city_walls If you approach Albarracin from the direction of Teruel you'll see the city walls stretching high across the hill long before you see the town. These walls are open to the public although we did not make the long climb up. There is a separate castle and set of walls on the other side of town as well (visible in the first Albarracin picture).
Picture of alley_junction We think Albarracin is best seen by wandering aimlessly. The buildings generally lack any semblence of a straight line or a right angle as you can see here. There is only one real public square inside Albarracin, it is near the city hall and we sat at one of the two cafes there and had a platter of local ham and a couple of beers. Honestly, Albarracin didn't offer very good people-watching opportunities because it was mostly deserted, but the atmosphere is fantastic and it was much cooler at the relatively high altitude Albarracin sits at than it was down on the plains.
Picture of tile_sign
Picture of tower_view Teruel is the capital of Aragon's southernmost region and it is best known for the four Mudejar towers located in the city. Mudejar refers to Muslim people who stayed behind when the Christians recaptured portions of Spain. It also refers to the art and the architecture they influenced. This is perhaps the best restored of the four towers, the Torre de El Salvador.
Picture of teruel_tower Originally this was a minaret, which is still apparent if you go up inside the tower which is definately worth the small fee. The stairs to the top spiral between the original minaret and the newer (as in 14th century new) square tower built around it. The center of Teruel is a crowded confusing place and sometimes the towers are obviously visible (like here) but difficult to actually reach.
Picture of mudejar This is the Torre de San Pedro, or at least we think it is. To be fair, the towers are not easily distinguishable from photographs several weeks after you get back. Attached to this tower is the tomb of Diego and Isabel, Aragon's homegrown version of Romeo and Juliet with less obvious causes of death (grief, for instance). From Teruel it isn't too far back to Valencia, and from Valencia it's about three hours back to Barcelona. Since we already covered that terrain at the beginning of the trip, we can skip right to Barcelona now.

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