The region is famous for its Romanesque churches which date back to the 10-13th centuries with the tiny villages of the Serrablo having some of the best examples. I went for a bike ride yesterday through this flat glacial valley that lies south of Biescas passing through many of my favourite villages.
It was a good afternoon for birds with with a pair of Lammergeier flying close overhead and they grabbed each others claws and tumbled through the air several times as if in courtship. The first Egyptian vulture of the year was spotted along with red and black kite, a pair of kestrels and a large group of about 20 griffon vultures circling very low obviously eyeing something up.
Because the villages of the Serrablo never grew bigger (most shrunk) these churches were never expanded or altered and for the most part their original design and layouts remain.
Santa Eulalia in Oros Bajo was built in the first quarter of the 11th century and sits just outside the village of Oros Bajo. I once got talking to one of the old guys in the village and he told me how during the civil war he helped man the machine gun that was place in the tower.
The door of the church is on the south side of the building facing Franco’s troops and he showed me where they knocked another door through where they could exit safely and crawl behind a stone wall back to the village. It was really interesting to hear the story as people still don’t often openly talk about the civil war.
The church of San Juan de Busa shows the Romaesque design at it’s simplest. It was built in the second half of the 10th century it’s original design has not been altered. It has the typical rounded apse of Romanesque churches but lacks the bell towers of later churches in the area. It has some beautiful carvings and is always open so you can go inside.
These churches are sparse inside with hardly any decoration. Here you can see the roof has been replaced – a group called the Amigos del Serrablo do great work raising money, carrying out restoration work and maintaining these churches.
This arquitecture is also known as ‘mozarabic ‘ and has lots of moorish influences such as these horsehoe shaped arched windows in the church at Larrede.
One of my favourite churches is the 10th century San Pedro in Larrede with it’s fantastic bell tower with triple arched windows. It also features triple inset windows that are another feature borrowed from arab architecture. The windows are filled with thinly sliced agate which gives a wonderful light inside. The cathedral in Jaca or the monastery of San Juan de la Peña are good places to see examples of agate windows.
It’s a beautiful area to explore and there are a dozen other villages all with beautiful churhes nearby – including the remote Susin which has only 1 inhabitant remaining!