It is located in the heart of the Pyrenees, northwest of the capital, Huesca, and on the left bank of the river Ésera. It is the neuralgic point of the Valley of Benasque also called Valle Escondido. To the village of Benasque belong also the beautiful villages of Cerler and Anciles. The first written reference to Benasque is from the first years of the 11th century "Rotulo de Benasque", although it is believed that it was founded by the Romans, who built roads and bridges. Since the 11th century it belonged to the County of Ribagorza, in the Kingdom of Aragon, but as the capital of the valley it had criminal and civil jurisdiction over the place and its people. During the Middle Ages, the town was a place of passage for pilgrims on their way to Compostela. It is known that since the 13th century there was a castle in a high area in the north of the village, of which no remains as it was ordered to be demolished by Royal Decree in 1858.
Benasque has suffered the adverse consequences of several natural phenomena such as the earthquake of 1660 or the great floods of the Ésera in the years 1727, 1834 and 1925. It also suffered a serious fire that devastated an important part of the town during the Spanish Civil War. Due to its situation, Benasque has been for a long time a place accessible to very few cultures and possible colonising peoples, which has made it possible to preserve a large part of its traditions and in a very special way its dialect, still spoken today, "El Patués", a language that has influences due to its proximity, Gallic, Catalan and in any case Latin. There is little documentation of Cerler, although it seems to have been mentioned in the 9th century. It is the highest village in the Aragonese Pyrenees, with a church and some noble houses dating from the 16th century; and the other beautiful village that is part of Benasque, Anciles, with its manor houses and parish church, also speaks of its existence in the 16th-17th centuries.
Benasque is immersed in a charming mountain environment in which its corners, buildings and squares contribute to this, from its old town to its new buildings. Coats of arms and blazon, arcades and Renaissance buildings blend in perfectly with popular Pyrenean architecture, such as the palace of the Counts of Ribagorza, on Main Street, which dates back to the 16th century and has been described as an "Italian palace adapted to the mountain world". The House of Juste, a stronghold, whose crenellated tower measures some 18 metres. House Faure, in the town hall square, has a beautiful tower in the south corner, and whose entrance door is from the 17th century. The town hall, the church Santa María la Mayor of Romanesque origin, from the 13th century although with restorations in the 17th century and which is dedicated to the patron saint of the town, San Marcial. From the road that goes to Cerler, a strategic viewpoint offers impressive panoramic views of Benasque and the great environment that surrounds it, encouraging the visitor and increasing even more his interest in entering these wonderful places where hikers, mountaineers, skiers and families mingle looking for a peaceful place to enjoy what nature gives us.
Benasque celebrates its patron saint's day in honour of San Marcial on 30th June. Cerler does it on August 10th to celebrate San Lorenzo and on April 29th San Pedro Mártir. And Anciles on June 29th honours San Pedro. Other interesting events that Benasque offers are the International Open Chess Tournament Villa de Benasque and in July the Ultra-Trail Aneto-Posets.
Traditionally, the "Ball dels omes" is represented in the festivities for San Marcial, which, as its name indicates, is only danced by men and consists of three parts, a dance in pairs in front of the church, the dance to the patron saint surrounding him and the victory that is symbolised in the "marradetas". The music of this dance inspired the Hymn of Irrigation, performed in 1820 during the liberal revolution. The next day, it is the women who perform the "Ball de les donnes".
Part of the municipality of Benasque is within the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park and the Pyrenean Glaciers Natural Monument.
According to oral history, the Romans, who were very fond of taking thermal baths, built the first sulphurous water spa in the place where the Benasque baths are located today.
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We can reach Benasque from Barbastro, on the motorway linking Huesca and Lérida, and then head towards Graus on the N-123 and from there go up the whole valley following the A-139 to Benasque itself. Or we can do it through the N-260 that from Sabiñánigo crosses all the Pyrenees to the Catalan coast, coinciding in part with the A-139 that comes from Graus. More specifically, from the vicinity of Campo to Castejón de Sos, where we will leave it to go to Benasque.
Benasque has an urban transport service that connects the towns that make up the municipality, Benasque, Cerler and Anciles, on a daily basis. Benasque also has a regular bus service that connects it, daily, with the capital Huesca and other nearby towns and villages on the route. More information on the phone number 974 210 700
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