Home to some of the highest peaks of the Pyrenees mountains, the Aragonese Pyrenees are home to some incredible old towns and villages which will make you never want to leave. Nestled amid the mountains or perched on a cliff edge, these Aragonese villages ooze charm and architectural splendour.
This tiny village is located on the edge of the eponymous Lanuza lake, surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Pyrenees mountains. From a distance the village appears to form just one with the mountain but get closer and you’ll see the old stone houses, the 14th century church and if you come in July, you may just catch the Festival Pirineos Sur, a live music and arts festival which takes place each year in Lanuza.
Standing on the edge of the Pyrenean foothills, Alquézar is a Medieval town dominated by the historic 11th century collegiate church of Santa Maria. The town is located in the Nature Reserve of the Sierra and Canyons of Guara, a popular spot for canyoning, abseiling and rock-climbing thanks to its impressive gorges and waterways. To the north of the town, a great number of prehistoric cave paintings earned Alquézar UNESCO World Heritage status in 1998.
Panticosa, or Pandicosa in Aragonese, first made a name for itself during the 19th century as a popular spa town thanks to its pure mountain waters which were believed to cure diseases. These days Panticosa is best known for being the site of the Formigal – Panticosa ski resort, considered one of the best in the country. In the winter the village transforms into a winter wonderland set against the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees.
Surrounded by some of the highest summits of the Aragonese Pyrenees – many of which surpass 3000 meters in height – Benasquese, known as Benás in the local dialect is home to a number of historic buildings such as the the palace of the Count of Ribagorza and the church of Santa Maria la Mayor. The Benasque valley boasts over 95 lakes and numerous waterfalls which make this a great place for hikes.
Located in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees, just 50km from the border with France, Ansó is proof that small is beautiful. The Old Town of Ansó is considered one of the most well-preserved in the region and has been recognised as a national heritage site for its outstanding architecture, typical of Aragon. Ansó is the perfect base from which to explore the nearby mountains, with hiking, canoeing and other outdoor activities all available nearby.
Located at the meeting point of two rivers, the stone town of Aínsa stands out against a dramatic backdrop of an impressive crag known as the Peña Montañesa. The town seems to have remained completely unchanged since the Middle Ages, when Aínsa was the capital of the small Kingdom of Sobrarbe. A network of cobbled streets lead to the heart of the village, the Plaza Mayor, bordered by arched walkways which harbour artisan shops and restaurants.
Both in the summer and the winter, Biescas is a popular tourist destination thanks to its many typical Aragonese architecture. Of these, the typical Aragonese conical chimneys are particularly interesting: some of them are decorated with engravings known as espantabrujas or ‘scarewitches’ designed to keep evil forces at bay. The Romanesque church of San Salvador is another fine example of Aragonese architecture even if it suffered greatly during the Spanish Civil War.