If we were guided by the data, we would say that Roda de Isábena is just a tiny village in Huesca, overlooking a valley, and with only a few dozen inhabitants.
But then, we would leave behind a few details. Such as that it has a spectacular Romanesque Cathedral, the remains of medieval walls, a Renaissance palace and some other things. Well, the usual things we would find in a village with fifty or sixty inhabitants …
But, where do all these amazing things come from in such a small place? From the depths of history, of course. You’ll see …
The Romans had already built a fortress on this site, and much later, in the tenth century, the village was fortified again with a castle and some defensive towers. They also built a Cathedral, because Roda was the seat of the Bishops and look, it was time to have one.
But the Arabs were close and pushing hard; so much so that they ended up destroying the place in the year 1006, and Roda was left without a cathedral and without a castle. In command of that terrifying raid was Abd al-Málik al-Muzaffar, Almanzor’s favourite son.
The place was soon recovered by the Christians, and although the old castle was never rebuilt, the construction of a new Cathedral was undertaken, the one of San Vicente consecrated in the year 1030. It was used as such for more than a century and later lost its status as the Episcopal centre.
With its Romanesque stones, its beautiful cloister and its crypt with extraordinary wall paintings, the cathedral is Roda’s great treasure. In the eighteenth century, the southern façade and the bell tower were added, so the exterior you can see today is a curious stylistic mixture. We also assure you that you won’t find another cathedral in any town of this size.
Be sure to take a look at the noble stones of the Palacio del Prior, also known as Casa Abacial de Roda, a sixteenth-century fortified building that is another product of a violent period.
And as if it wasn’t enough the few wars and catastrophes that Roda de Isábena had to endure, Erik the Belgian, one of the greatest art thieves of the last century, still had to appear here. Erik entered the cathedral one night in 1979 and made off with thirty works, and he didn’t take any more because there wasn’t enough room in the vehicles they used for the robbery.
But the most curious thing about it is that the thief came back to the village in the nineties, to donate some paintings. And not a bother on him!