To walk around a mountain range full of green valleys, forests and rivers teeming with life like the Pyrenees are, and in the same morning, to be able to visit a desert like Los Monegros is a unique attraction to any visitor. But it also turns out that the capital of Huesca deserves to be seen and thoroughly walked, as it is a thousand-year-old city with rich historical heritage.
It is so old that even before the arrival of the inevitable Romans, here there was already an Iberian population called Bolskan, where they produced a coin which showed the image of a rider and which has ended up being the coat of arms of the city. But in between the Iberians and the twenty-first century, some things happened in Huesca which can almost be summarised in the history of its cathedral.
First, there was a Roman Temple, from the time when the legions had taken this place and renamed it Osca. Centuries later it would be the Visigoth's turn, who didn’t like the temple and built a church instead. But as soon as the Arabs appeared, where there was a church, there was one no more and instead, there was a Mosque. Given the circumstances, what do you think happened when the Christians reconquered the place in 1096?
That’s right: down with the Mosque and up with the Cathedral. But do not think that it took little time, no. In fact, the conveniently Christianised mosque building was used like that for a long time. Until the thirteenth century, they didn’t think about building the temple that you can see today: an ancient and valuable example of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic.
You shouldn’t miss either the Church of San Pedro el Viejo and its cloister or all the other interesting Baroque temples that the city preserves. But what you really need to know is the story of the Huesca’s bell.
It seems that back in the twelve century, King Ramiro II was a bit pissed off with some nobles. Things got worse, and his advisors suggested him to settle the matter cutting a few heads. Ramiro took note and communicated all those who had him angry, that their king needed them to make a bell that could be heard throughout the kingdom. And to do so, of course, they needed to go to Huesca for a few days.
Once the ingenuous nobles appeared in the indicated place asking for the bell that needed to be made, their heads rolled on the ground one by one. Some even say that with them a circle was formed and in the centre, the head of the most rebellious one was placed as the clapper of the bell.
The gruesome event is usually located in the palace that housed that Court, which today is Huesca’s Museum, but if you prefer to see how a romantic painter imagined the scene, you can go to the Town Hall and take a look at the famous canvas by José Casado del Alisal. It’s tremendous!