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10 reasons to visit the Central Pyrenees

The Central Pyrenees is considered to be one of the most stunning parts of the Pyrenees. You’ll find stone villages, flower filled valleys, stunning mountains and many interesting places to discover.

Visit one of the oldest National Parks in Spain

Walking in the Ordesa National Park

Ordesa Canyon

Established in 1918 the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park was Spain’s first protected area and an is undisputed highlight of the Pyrenees. Covering an area of 156 square kilometres the park contains the stunning valleys of Ordesa and Añisclo. In 1997 it was made a world heritage site by UNESCO and it is also part of the Ordesa-Viñamala UNESCO Biosphere reserve.

Ordesa National Park highlights are its four deep canyons carved into the limestone. The Ordesa and Pineta valleys are glacial and the Añisclo valley and Garganta de Escuain were formed by rivers.

The Ordesa Valley is the most famous with cliffs rising over eight hundred metres on each side and Monte Perdido is perched majestically at the end of the valleys.

The Añisclo Canyon is over a kilometre deep and the high cliffs combined with the narrow, winding valley makes for spectacular views. The three peaks of Las Treserols – Monte Perdido, Cilindro and Pico Añisclo are the most recognisable in the park and form an impressive skyline for many walks.

They have some of the most astonishing hiking areas

GR11 in the Valle de Tena

Ibones de Arriel in Tena Valley

Apart from the Ordesa National Park you’ll find the Tena Valley which is also a great high peaks towering over wonderful alpine meadows. Traditional Pyrenean villages with narrow winding streets and stone houses centred around  medieval churches.

The splendid nature of the Benasque Valley is home to the largest number of peaks towering over 3,000 metres high in the Pyrenees, distributed among three groups of peaks around the massifs of Maladeta, Poset and Perdiguero.

Climb Aneto (3404m)

Phil and Hannah - Hike Pyrenees guides on the summit of Aneto

Phil and Hannah – Hike Pyrenees guides on the summit of Aneto

At 3404m (11,168ft) Aneto is the highest mountain in the Pyrenees with Pico Posets 3371m and Monte Perdido 3355m being the second and third highest. Aneto is just over 6km south of the French / Spanish border and sits within the Posets – Maladeta Natural Park in the province of Aragon and in the Benasque Valley.

Discover the Serrablo and its unknown romanesque churches

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.

Because the villages of the Serrablo never grew (most reduced in population) these churches were never expanded or altered and for the most part their original design and layouts remain.

Visit the spectacular Castle of Loarre

Loarre Castle - Aragon

Loarre Castle – Aragon

In the foothills of Sierra de Guara stands the oldest fortified castle in Spain and one of the most spectacular in Aragon. Built in the 11th century upon Roman walls, Loarre Castle was the base for the regions resistance to the Moorish occupation. Perched on a hill the castle has commanding views over the plains towards Zaragoza.

Loarre gained a more recent claim to fame when Ridley Scott used it’s labyrinthine dungeons and turrets as a location for his 2003 film ‘Kingdom of Heaven’.

Follow the Holly Grial to San Juan de La Peña

Lying on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage the monastery complex of San Juan de la Peña (St. John of the Crag) is one of the most famous in Aragon. The complex, set among a landscape of woodland and cliffs, consists of two sites – a lower, older monastery built under an overhanging cliff and a newer abbey and museum higher up.

The story goes that the Grail was given to a Spanish soldier in Rome during the third century who promptly took it back to his home in Huesca. During the Moorish invasion the Grail found it’s way to San Juan for safe keeping.

Visit Jaca, the first capital of Aragon

Jaca, the first capital of Aragon, sits at the foot of the Pyrenees. It’s one of the biggest towns in the area and an important base for tourists attracted by the mountains, the historical old town with its tapas bars and restaurants. It’s got a good selection of shops and it’s the place to head if you need any outdoor kit.

The old town is beautiful with lovely buildings, streets and churches. It’s got a great atmosphere and is a perfect place to spend a day walking around the old town while making the obligatory stops for tapas and vino of course!

Things to see in Jaca include the 11th century Romanesque cathedral, 16th century pentagonal fortress, the town hall and it’s various churches. It’s well known for it’s tapas bars – the food is excellent and it’s well worth having a night out here.

Riglos – 1000m towers

riglos-desde-mirador-de-los-buitres

The mallos de Riglos from Los Buitres – “vultures” – viewpoint

The Mallos de Riglos are huge natural rock sculptures that draw an astonishing mountain landscape. They consist of a group of vertical structures of conglomerate rock that reach up to 300 metres, and define a clear and impressive physical border between this part of the pre-pyrenees mountain range and the Ebro Valley area.

The beauty of Riglos is due to its uniqueness, but also for its contrast in landscape between the extremely vertical shape of its Mallos and the rather flat environment that they are facing.

Sierra de Guara, its canyons and Alquézar

Hiking in Alquezar where the final 800m is in a beautifully cool and welcome river!

Hiking in Alquezar in a beautifully cool and welcome river!

The Sierra de Guara in the Pre-Pyrenees has loads of history as well as some great hiking, climbing and canyoning. Here you’ll also find some excellent examples of prehistoric cave paintings.

In the heart of the Sierra de Guara is Alquézar, a beautiful village with narrow winding streets. There are several small museums and churches to look around. Getting lost amongst its maze of streets and staircases is a delightful way to while away a few hours.

The Alquézar castle and collegiate church arose from the remains of one of the main Moorish fortresses of the region.

Taste of the Pyrenees

The Aragonese Pyrenees offers many different local products.

The Somontano, which means “under the mountains”, wine-growing region is home to around 33 wineries which make both red and white wine, the wines from this area are found in every hotel/restaurant in the Central Pyrenees.

Also if you are near Ordesa National Park you can order some local beef from Broto in good restaurants.

There are lots of cheeses, honies and many more creations locally made for you to discover.

Finally the great weather and friendly people will make your trip more than you expected.

 

 

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