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26 October 2015

Valencia Erasmus Diary - Thrown Back in Time in Albarracín and Teruel

After reading the title of the post, you might be thinking, thrown back in time? Like Claire from the Outlander TV series? (actually, you might not. Not everyone is as obsessed with it as I am. Anyway...). Yesterday I went on an Erasmus day trip from Valencia to Albarracín and Teruel. It was a very good experience in that the places were beautiful (I preferred Albarracín to Teruel) and the people amazing - I had the best time with my Erasmus girlfriends. However, what struck me the most was the historical feel that this trip brought up in me!

My lovely housemates and I woke up super early and got to the university campus, where we met another friend of ours and hopped together on the bus to Aragón, ready to discover a new region of Spain with our usual wanderlust spirit. We managed to sleep a bit on the warm bus which improved our mood even more, then got off in Albarracín to realise that it was very cold! When we were told that our destination was the coldest one in Spain at the Erasmus agency, we kind of laughed at the idea (ok, we actually laughed) because the weather forecast predicted 18 degrees. But it was actually very chilly! Luckily I'd brought my favourite warm scarf so didn't freeze to death. 

After a few minutes the guided tour started. Our guide was a very nice woman from Teruel and I loved listening to her explanations as they weren't too intense and very straightforward. She explained to us the story of the village: originally dominated by a Moorish family, it was conquered a century and a half later (1300s) by Pedro III d'Aragón and Christianised. Today, most people live in a village next to it because it doesn't have many resources but it's a frequently visited site of the region. 


With her explanations on the story of the pueblo (=village), my interest for history kicked in and I started looking at the medieval fort and houses of the town in a dreamy way, picturing myself as a Spanish lady of the Middle Ages. (I have to admit this - I'm currently watching the amazing historical fiction Spanish TV series Isabel and I'm going slightly crazy about it). My friend Anna and I who are so keen on Outlander (click here if you want to know what it is!) kept seeing Outlandish things everywhere! Even if the time and the space were so different from 1700s Scotland, the town had a feel of history, love, legends and folklore about it that resembled that of Castle Leoch, Claire and Jamie, and the Scottish moors. I know that you may think I'm crazy comparing Scotland to Aragón but believe me, the cloudy weather and the old buildings helped. 



This window with curtains was used for the cotilleo (=gossip): people would stare at other people from it out of mere curiosity and gossip about them. 
The guide made sure we really got into Albarracín's folklore by also telling some of the village's enchanting legends. One was about the impossible love between a girl and a boy of different religions; when her father caught them together he shut her in a tower and left her there for years. She cried and cried, until she died of sorrow. Today, whenever there is a full moon, you can still hear her crying. 

Being most of Albarracín's houses red, when we passed in front of this blue house, we wondered why it was the case. It seems that the house was blue either in order to keep the cattle's germs away (through some chemicals in the paint) or because the house's lord's wife came from Andalucía, and in order to honour her he gave the house an Andalusian-look. Apparently, such a family still exists today and isn't happy about the second rumour at all! 
The blue house

Our next stop was Teruel. The town of Teruel was founded during the Middle Ages in 1176, and until the end of the 1300s it had saw the coexistence of Muslims, Jews and Christians. Today, it's the capital province of the region of Aragón, and, in my opinion, not a very exciting place. 

Our first impression wasn't a very good one; the town was completely dead, with all shops closed and no noticeable human presence. However, as we got there at lunchtime, we found a typical restaurant and had a delicious comida (=lunch) which set us back in the right mood. 
 Our first natural/urban view of Teruel

Some streets of the old town
We then went around the town with the same guide which wasn't as easy to follow as the story of Teruel's buildings was slightly repetitive - most of them had a mixture of Romaneque and Moorish styles. I would have liked to see the church of San Pedro which looked amazing from the pictures but it was closed *angry emoji*. 

What we mostly enjoyed was the telling of another beautiful legend: that of the amantes de Teruel (=the lovers of Teruel)<3. Here it goes: Diego and Isabel were neighbours; they grew up together in Teruel and as teenagers they fell in love. When Diego proposed to marry Isabel, her father suggested he searched for fortune for five years then come back to Teruel to marry her. Diego fought in war, while Isabel kept waiting in anguish for him. At the end of the five years, she was forced to marry someone else, and just after she did, Diego came back. When they met again, he asked her for a kiss in the name of their love which, even if now impossible, had lasted a long time. She insisted not to and he dropped dead in front of her. On the day of his funeral she finally gave him that kiss and she died too. Today, the remaining proof of the legend is a sweet couple of statues of Diego and Isabel holding hands.


We had a fantastic time in Aragón and who knows? I might be back some day to visit other towns of the region. I loved Albarracín's historical atmosphere and can't wait to discover other places alike. I hope you ejoyed the travel post! Hasta la próxima!

My advice to travel to Albarracín: wear some warm clothes because it can get very cold. Also when in doubt, bring your camera, the sights are beautiful!

6 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful photos once again - I am living vicariously through you! :)

    ~Lor @ cozycomfyhome.com

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    1. Thanks Lor! :D Feel free to live through my pictures haha!!

      Assia | www.assiashahin.com

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  2. Wow, valencia is stunning! Your photos are amazing. What a beautiful place. Thank you for sharing :)

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    1. These were actually two cities two hours away from Valencia hehe :) but thanks for your kind words <3

      Assia | www.assiashahin.com

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  3. A lot of Spain has a magic effect of teleporting you back in time without actually moving too far away :) beautiful photos btw :)

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    1. That is very true. I find that especially in small villages where the atmosphere is a lot dreamier than that of big cities. Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Assia | www.assiashahin.com

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