Municipalities and Villages in Sobrarbe
Tourist Information Centre: Tel 0034 974 500 767
o Inhabitants: 1.353. The whole municipality counts 1.897 inhabitants.
o Height above sea level: 589m
o Name of its inhabitants: Ainsetano.
o Local Holidays: on 20th January, a festival devoted to St. Sebastian is held with bonfires; the Fiesta de los Casados (Festivity of the Married ones) and on 14th September "La Morisma" (the Moorish) is held every even year.
The following villages belong to its municipality: Aínsa, Arcusa, Arro, Banastón, Las Bellostas, Camporrotuno, Castejón de Sobrarbe, Castellazo, Coscojuela de Sobrarbe, El Coscollar, Gerbe, Griebal, Guaso, Jabierre de Olsón, Latorre, Latorrecilla, Mondot, Morillo de Tou, Olsón, La Pardina, Paúles de Sarsa y Santa María de Buil, Sarratillo, Sarsa de Surta.
Monuments: The Old Quarter, its 11th century Castle, its walls, its 13th century Main Square, the Market Square with its vaulted porch, its 12th century Church devoted to Our Lady?, all of these buildings summarize the history of this county. Besides, visitors can also find some outstanding facades, such as the 16th century Casa Arnal's, the 16th century Casa Bielsa's, the Arch of the Hospital and the remains of the 12th century St. Salvador Church.
In Aínsa, located at the confluence of the Cinca and Ara Rivers, we can visit an architectonic and urban complex of immense historical value. Its Old Quarter was declared Historical Complex in 1965. It is town of the province of Huesca and capital of Sobrarbe County. The old kingdom of Sobrarbe comprises around sixty villages which compound twenty municipalities.
The name of Sobrarbe has its roots in the fact that this region was settled on the Arbe Mountain Range ("sobre" meaning "on"). It stretched its limits from Cinca River to Alquezar, along the Arbe mountain range, which gave name to the current contraction which names the county of Sobrarbe. Its name, according the vernacular language of this region known as Fabla, is La Aínsa or L'Aínsa.
The reconquest is dated at 724. According to the legend of San Juan de la Peña, García Jiménez was appointed as the first king of Sobrarbe, and he decided to attack the Muslims in L'Ainsa. García and his 300 warriors took by surprise La Aínsa, taking advantage of the night and telling his warriors that the Divine Providence was on their side, since he had seen a cross on a holy oak. Finally, Ainsa was declared capital of the Kingdom of Sobrarbe, and its coat of arms shows a red cross on a holy oak, later being this symbol also included in the coat of arms of Aragón.
The Cross of Sobrarbe, also known as the roofed Cross, has its monument 1.5km. far away from the Main Square. From the square, a road leads us to the car park, where a path heads towards the spot where the Sobrarbe battle took place. We find a small circular monument, consisting of a Tuscan column on a shrine surrounded by a wrought-iron fence with a pyramidal roof. Inside, we find the symbol of Aínsa and Sobrarbe: the holy oak crowned by the Cross. This roofed Cross was built in 1655, but it was brought down by a hurricane, and King Charles III ordered it to be built again in 1765.
Historically, we find Aínsa being mentioned in 1055, but its real historic documentation starts with the Privilege of Repopulation granted by King Alfonso I, the Warrior, in 1124. The Old Castle, originally dating from that period too, became a fortress in the 16th century.
Aínsa is divided into two parts. Uphill, we find the Old Quarter, consisting in two streets and a square next to the Castle, which constitute the original village.
The Castle preserves its walls almost entirely and two of its main outward doors. We can see the walled complex and the square corner towers. This wall of great dimensions has a series of arches supporting the parapet walk. The11th century Keep was totally rebuilt. It is a pentagonal tower with five levels with loopholes and a two-pitched roof. Currently, it shelters the Interactive Centre of the Fauna in the Pyrenees.
The north-eastern and south-eastern towers, also rebuilt, house several services. In the north-eastern tower, we find the County Office of Tourism, the Technical Office and the Geovision Room of the Sobrarbe Geopark. In the south-eastern tower, we can visit the Geopark Space, an Interactive Centre which shows the geological richness of this county.
It is surrounded by mounts and rocks, such as Peña Montañesa (Highland Rock) in the background, the Tres Sorores and Tres Marías summits and the Tucas mountain range.
Ainsa is a central point heading every direction in Sobrarbe. Its history and art are specially remarkable, as we can notice from its Castle inner ward linking with the Main Square, one of the oldest in the country among the porched ones, with Romanesque-Gothic porches and stone houses. In the Town Hall front, we find the arch giving access to the main street, worth to be paid a visit.
On the other corner of the town, we find the Romanesque tower of the Church devoted to Santa María de Buil, former collegiate church. It played both a military and religious role. It was a milestone among other towers in Sobrarbe. Its dimensions are unique in the Aragonese Romanesque style. The most outstanding feature is its top, with four wide windows with archivolts and decorated caps. Two streets lead us out from the square: Gonzalo I St. and Holy Cross St. At their junction, we find a little square named St. Salvador. At its foot, we see the arches of the Escalereta and the Hospital, besides the Main Square and the Fontela doorways, from Downwards and Outwards.
The church, built in 1181, is devoted to Our Lady. The building was started at the end of the 11th century and it was finished by the second half of the 12th century. The last restoration took place in 1972-1974. Five archivolts on colonettes stand out on its facade. In March 1974, the main shrine and the crypt were consecrated. The shrine was devoted to Our Lady, and the crypt, with 18 colonettes and renew caps, devoted to the Holy Cross. The cloister is also remarkable, where Romanesque and Gothic styles merge. It has an irregular pentagonal plan, built between the 14th and 16th centuries.
The nave of the Church is pointed-barrel vaulted and the chancel has an apse with a half-barrel vault. Inside the apse, there are a Christ of modern carving and a 14th century Gothic Virgin of polychromatic carving.
L'Aínsa holds La Morisma, devoted to the Holy Cross festivity, on the first Sunday of September every even year. It consists in an outstanding performance, different from anyone held in Aragon, which resembles those performances held in Valencia called "Moors and Christians". The performance includes the characters of King Garci Jiménez, the Moorish General, the Moorish Queen and the Christian Queen. It also includes the Moorish and the Christian stewards, besides the Sin, ally of Satan, and the Angel. It tells the battle against Muslims, when Garci Jiménez saw the Light in the sky. The villages of the Old Sobrarbe are mentioned in this text, such as Labuerda, San Vicente, El Pueyo, La Fueba, Banastón, Araguás, Cagigosa, Labayo and Montpellier. The battle is performed, the conquest of the castle and, finally, a shepherd goes to Jaca and San Juan de la Peña to announce the Christian victory.
By the end of July, the Castilllo de Aínsa International Music Festival is held.
In September, the yard of the castle receives the Expoferia del Sobrarbe, a County Fair.