A City like Jaca is a place to be taken seriously from the beginning: it is at the foot of the Pyrenees, its historical centre was declared Asset of Cultural Interest and more than two thousand years of history demonstrate it. There aren’t many towns with such cover letter.
Its first known name is Iacca, and the Roman legions took over Iacca in the second century before Christ. It was the first fortification that they conquered in the territory of Hispania, so the legionaries made a toast, first, and then they left the city to be romanised quietly.
But life is full of surprises. A long time after the extinction of the Roman domain, Jaca found itself in the eighth century and began to see the Visigoths arrive. They came in retreat before the Muslim armies pushing them, and sought refuge in the mountains, they did the same in the Asturias ones as in the Aragonese ones, they all served to defend themselves.
The Arabs were not interested in taking any risks in such a dangerous zone to just catch a few men, even though Jaca was at the foot of the old road that the Romans had used to cross the Pyrenees. That route passed through the Sumus Portus or mountain pass, and that is how by abbreviating it ended up being called Somport.
And so, between the orography and the help of Charlemagne, who guarded these territories for some time, the town had some peace and began to gain importance. Its location made it a key point of the Camino de Santiago and at the end of the eleventh century, the king of Aragon, Sancho Ramirez, granted it with privileges and all the things that the monarchs granted at the time when they wanted to favour a villa.
The thing went well, and Jaca gained inhabitants, started to mint its own coin, and it even built the first Roman cathedral in Spain, a true landmark that we recommend you to see with the calm and peacefulness that it deserves.
But the years went by, as they do, and at the end of the Middle Ages the golden era of the city, the first capital of the kingdom of Aragon, was left behind. Although it didn’t stop them from building grandiose constructions since surely the building that will most impress you in Jaca is from the late sixteenth century.
At that time Philip II was concerned about filling the Pyrenees with fortifications. The man had a few enemies, and every precaution was too little, so he ordered to build in here the impressive Citadel of Jaca, a fortress erected in a very strategic location and which has all the infernal military devices of the time.
To visit the citadel is overwhelming, and being more than four centuries old has filled it with plenty of stories, even though Jaca is not short of them: one of the most talked about is the uprising of the city, in 1930, and its proclamation of the Republic. The adventure did not end well, but the city, like other times, was once again a pioneer in one of the events in history.