In bars and restaurants in Biescas and Sallent de Gállego you will see pictures of one of the valleys most famous residents – Fermín Arrudi Urieta, more commonly known as ‘the giant of Sallent’. Born in Sallent de Gállego in 1870 Fermín reached 2.29 metres (7 feet 6 inches), weighed 170 kg (nearly 28 stone) and had size 58 feet.
There are many tales of Fermín’s deeds – he was said to be as strong as ten men and more use than any farm machinery. He loved village life, hunting and the mountains. One famous tale is of him killing a bear with just his bare hands and a small hunting knife.
Fermín toured the world showing off his remarkable height and had shows in Paris, Berlin, Holland, Belgium, New York and did year long tours of both North and South America. The shows bought him fame and fortune and while in Paris he met his future wife Louis Dupuis. However he was never happy with the touring life and once married returned to Sallent where he built a house, bought some land and lived once again as a farmer.
It is now thought that Fermín suffered from acromegaly a condition where the body produces excess growth hormones. He had a brother who was of normal height but a sister who was also extremely tall at 1.90m.
He died in Sallent in May 1913 aged nearly 43 years. It took six men to carry his coffin.
Several books have been written about Fermín’s life and you’ll see them in the bookstores in the valley. The most recent – and most entertaining – is an excellent hardback ‘cartoon-style’ book which is great practise if you’re learning Spanish!