Exploring Aragon – Cinco Villas

We had a hire car the whole time we stayed in Zaragoza so having explored all parts of the city we were keen to get out and about and see more of the surrounding area. We found a monastery and put that on the visit list, but our Spanish friends recommended a day trip to the Cinco Villas enthusing about this beautiful part of Aragon and two little villages in particular. We set off, on the drive it really struck home how isolated Zaragoza is from just about everywhere else. A two hour plus drive and we arrived at the Cinco Villas, reasonable roads all the way but no sign of civilization and barely another car in sight for the whole of those two hours.

The Cinco Villas is north of Zaragoza and stretches for 90km along the border with Navarra. We found delightful, deserted countryside and marvelled how close we were to the snowy peaks of the Pyrenean Mountains. Getting out of the car to take pictures I marvelled at how the temperature had dropped incredibly in this area. We were shivering, astounded by the chill wind that seemed to be coming from those snowy peaks.

04.01.002 - Cinco Villas

04.01.004 - Cinco Villas

Sos del Rey Catolico was our first port of call – the guidebooks call this the most visited town in Northern Aragon. We saw four people the whole time we were there. The streets were deserted and we had it all to ourselves.

04.01.006 - Sos

04.01.007 - Sos

This was the birthplace of Ferdinand the Catholic King in 1452 – hence the name. The kings of Aragon fortified the village with a thick wall and even today much of its medieval character has been preserved – the town is now a national monument.

04.01.010 - Sos

We parked, set off and just wandered. The streets are a maze of cobbled, twisting lanes with dark stone houses and deeply overhanging eaves. Much of the city wall and all of the gates are still intact and the medieval street pattern inside the wall is still there.

04.01.011 - Sos

We found the Romanesque church – closed unfortunately but checked out the watch tower. A shame really as the church has the font in which Ferdinand was baptised and a few other things of interest – we had to suffice with just reading about them. This whole place felt really untouched by time, in fact the only clue we were in the 21st century was the string of gigantic wind turbines along the spine of the mountain range behind the town. The village seems to grow out of the hill and at the very top is the keep tower – all that remains of a 10th century fortress that once held the Christian line against the Moors.

04.01.013 - Sos

04.01.014 - Sos

04.01.020 - Sos

We found the paradour just as we were leaving and decided to have lunch there. Steep steps to the entrance but gorgeous views and a lovely place – so peaceful. We (yet again) were the only customers and opted not to eat in the (very nice looking) restaurant but had sandwiches in the bar. Delicious with gorgeous garden views, we loved it here.

04.01.021 - Sos

04.01.027 - Sos

A short drive later and we were in Uncastillo, the second of the villages we wanted to visit. Parking up by the side of the road we just wandered here too. Not on a hill but equally untouched by time we again were the only people walking the streets. We found an impressive castle fortress with a keep from the 11th century, soaked up the views and the peace before driving back to Zaragoza.

04.01.031 - Uncastillo

04.01.034 - Uncastillo

04.01.035 - Uncastillo

48 thoughts on “Exploring Aragon – Cinco Villas

  1. Thank you for the beautiful images to enjoy alongside my breakfast this morning! They have made me long to travel in Europe again soon. (So much history! So different from where we live!) I am going to send this post to my mother in law – the gorgeous stone buildings will definitely remind her of the Italian Istria of her childhood…

    • It’s such a beautiful and peaceful spot – we just loved everything about this little village. Have you been to Istria – definitely worth a visit, one of my favourite places!!

      • I have been to Istria three times… Once as a “honeymoon” to meet the relatives, and twice to bring the children. Can’t wait to go back – it gets in your soul a little bit. My husbands’ family is still there – his mother is the only one who came to Canada- but the flight cost is hard to balance with a short vacation. We tend to save up to go for an extended visit…

      • It’s true – it really does feel like last cal living when you become part of the village… My children had chores and errands just like all the rest. We hope to get back soon – maybe next summer? But my long term goal is to live a whole year “abroad”. Fingers crossed – reading your blog has given me lots of inspiration to do it!

      • That would be quite something!! I’ve lived abroad for a year when I was a student and then worked abroad when I had my first job. It would be an incredible family experience.

    • Thank you!! Your travels are a lot more adventurous than ours though – really enjoyed reading about this part of China, one I’m not at all familiar with, it sounds fascinating.

  2. Fabulous Joy! This is making me so upset we decided to not book Spain this summer. But I need to focus on getting my leg better. I need to catch up on all your posts now that I am back in the blogosphere :).

  3. This place looks so remote and almost abandoned. It must have been Interesting being in such a place. It’s like you had the whole village to yourselves. That’s pretty cool.

    • We did have it all to ourselves George which was a really cool experience – just like going back in time!! It’s so beautiful and so peaceful, a special place indeed.

      • I think it was siesta time for them all George!! We were amazed in this whole area wherever we travelled – towns and villages – in the afternoon the whole place became deserted, like a ghost town while they had their siesta!! Great idea I think…

  4. It’s stunning. That made me laugh that Aragon is the most visited town and you only saw 4 people! The castle fortress in Uncastillo looks impressive. If it was siesta could you get anything from the shops? Think I would like to wander when it’s that quiet!

    • Not even sure there were any shops here – we didn’t spot any but then everywhere had the shutters down so that might be the reason. It was lovely wandering with the whole place to ourselves though.

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