|The town seen from the castle|
Fast forward to early 2014. I was planning an ambitious journey around landlocked, east-central Aragón, and I wanted to make sure I saw as much of the region’s unique Mudéjar-style architecture as possible. While the big, regional capital of Zaragoza is home to several churches built in this style, the bulk of the World Heritage-listed sites are found to the south in Teruel…which just so happens to be right around the corner from Albarracín. I decided to book two nights in this picture-perfect village: a dream come true.
Arriving in town
|At “ground level”|
During this chaotic time period, a powerful Berber family called al-Banu Razin (“the sons of Razin” in Arabic) based their taifa in what is now the Castle of Albarracín and controlled the southwest part of modern Teruel province. Only three kings ruled until the Almoravids swept through the area, but it wasn’t long until Albarracín would enjoy another century-long period of independence, this time as a Christian lordship in the late Middle Ages called Santa María de Aben Razín.
|Stray cat with Vespa|
As I hopped off the minibus, the sun was finally emerging from moody clouds…and I was also greeted by an ever-so-lightly sprinkling of snow! I took this magical welcome as a good omen for the two nights I planned to spend in this charming town.
|Pink houses, orange houses|
|Super narrow streets|
Seeing “The Sights”
|(L to R) Castle, Cathedral, Church of Santiago|
|Perilous city walls|
Hiking, photography, and boredom
|Barrio de los Palacios|
|View from the northwest|
Walking further out to the west from the top of the hill, I got the chance to appreciate the “flow” of Albarracín, the strategic defenses to the north and the residential core to the south. From this vantage point out by the Ermita del Carmen, a lonely hermitage dedicated to Mary, I pondered how this isolated outpost was once the center of two diminutive little kingdoms.
What to eat
|(Source: Mover El Bigote)|
The realities of off-season, small-town life
|Cobblestone paved street|
|Casa de la Julianeta|
How to get thereAlbarracín is perched on top of a mountainous meander of the Guadalaviar River near the provincial capital of Teruel, about 3-1/2 hours due east from Madrid by car. Getting to Teruel by bus isn’t too difficult, but its train station is only a brief stop along the Valencia-Zaragoza train line. From Teruel, catch the Navarro bus to Albarracín around 2pm. To return, wait at the bus parking lot downhill by the highway a little before 9am—but double-check with the tourist offices as the hours for the sole departure per day can change.
Have you been to Albarracín? What do you think is the most beautiful village in Spain? Give me your nominations in the comments below!
For more pictures, check out my album on Flickr.