ROMANESQUE AND WAY OF ST. JAMES

Date : 2031 January 31st

Glorious Aragonese history carved in stone

The Romanesque style was born and consolidated at the same time and space as the Kingdom of Aragón and is the reason why it is the High-Aragón architectural style by excellence and also why the greatest set of Romanesque monuments have endured throughout the entire Iberian peninsula.

The Aragonese Camino de Santiago (Way of St. John's) is a branch of the French and Italian Way and enters the peninsula through the Port of Somport, parallel to the Aragon river, through marvellous paths full of history and natural beauty, until it meets the branch originating from Roncesvalles in Puente la Reina, Navarra.

In the XI century, Jaca became the capital of the newly established Kingdom of Aragón and since this was the largest urban centre in the Pyrenees, the path of the Road was modified to pass through here and through other ignored cities of the route in its beginnings. The large amount of commerce and number of European pilgrims in this area generated a great cultural exchange that resulted in the Lombard Romanesque style being adopted as their own in High-Aragón architecture. For this reason, the Aragonese Pyrenees, Romanesque architecture and Camino de Santiago are inextricably joined in their origins and in the affection that is felt towards this heritage by its people.

Using Jaca as the starting point, a visit is required to its XI century Cathedral, which is considered one of the most important temples of the first Spanish Romanesque era, and which is closely tied to the founding of the city and the concession of its Privileges, which allowed it to grow as the commerce centre on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Adjacent to the Cathedral we find the magnificent Diocesan Museum, with its 2000 m2 of medieval art, encompassing the largest Romanesque artworks in the country.

The Monastery of San Juan de la Peña is also worth visiting. Carved in the mountain, it rises as a tightrope walker over a deep canyon and its views allow understanding the ancestral ties held by the monks with the divine and the natural environment that surrounded them. Birthplace and residence of the first Kings of Aragón, the different architectural styles that are preserved speak to us, without a voice, about the life and customs of its ancient inhabitants.

Canfranc is the other enclave you can enjoy along the way of El Camino. Here we will find ancient defensive type buildings like the Tower of Fusileros (XIX century) or Fuente de Coll de Ladrones (XVII century). Likewise, the monument building of the International Railway Station of Canfranc recounts legends about spies and international agreements and is proud for having been the secret protagonists of the Second World War.

Spread out through the district we find other hidden treasures, many Romanesque churches and chapels that are located in places which the ancient locals considered possessed a great Mystic and Telluric energy such as San Adrián de Sásabe, Santa María de Iguacel, Chapel of San Benito in Orante, San Caprasio, Monastery of San Pedro de Siresa, etc., which sizes are a testament of the great splendour of this era.

Finally, we cannot miss visiting the remains of the Hospital of Santa Cristina de Somport, which was used as a stop and stay for legions of pilgrims and travellers, given that the Aragón route was the most transited of the entire Camino de Santiago.

Adapting to current times and the needs of the modern traveller and coinciding with the Year of St. James in 2010, the most troublesome sections of the Camino have been restored, adapted and strengthened. Bridges have been built, signs strengthened and much more attractive trails have been adapted so the traveller can live an unforgettable experience.

Discover the fascinating History of Aragón by travelling the Camino de Santiago. A transforming experience for the soul since ancient times.

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