On the northwestern slope of the Autonomous Community of Aragon, bordering neighboring France, the field of Jaca is located between the mountains of the northern Pyrenees. The city is located in the depression of the Berdun Canal, in the valley of Aragon. Jaca, with more than two thousand years of history, was originally an Iberian settlement of the Iacetans. Conquered by the Romans at the beginning of the second century BC and centuries later dominated by the Muslims. Jaca was the first capital of the kingdom of Aragon by decision of the Aragonese king Sancho Ramirez, who founded it in the eleventh century and granted it privileges. This king also wanted to give more momentum to the Way of Saint James through these lands and for this reason he ordered the construction in Jaca of the Santa Cristina Hospital and an important cathedral, which was the seat of councils. When in 1096 Huesca was conquered, the capital of the kingdom moved to this city, and Jaca saw its political power reduced but not its economic and military power.
Jaca had for its government, since the 13th century, the participation of the Council of One Hundred, which was formed by one hundred good men. In the Middle Ages and in compliance with the Jaca's jurisdiction, the Jacetanos whose houses were located in the city limits had to build their corresponding part of the wall. This is how the first wall was built, which lasted until the 12th century. When the monarchy decided to rebuild and complete a powerful wall, the Jaqueses also contributed to it with their work. Epidemics and fires at the end of the Middle Ages induced Jaca to suffer a deep crisis. Under Fernando el Católico, the city was once again enhanced, and it was his great-grandson Felipe II who decided to build the fortress to defend Jaca, the Citadel. In the 18th century, and in gratitude for taking the side of the Bourbons in the War of Succession, Felipe V awarded him the titles of Very Noble, Very Loyal and Very Victorious City of Jaca.
The Roman Iacca, the Arab Ghakat, and above all the medieval, Romanesque or modernist Jaca, invite us to walk through the narrow, winding streets that shape the urban fabric of this beautiful city, where we will find interesting buildings and monuments that speak for themselves of the historical and territorial importance of Jaca. The Town Hall, which dates from the 16th century, has a sculpted tympanum on its façade, from the 12th century, which comes from the Romanesque chapel of Sarsa. In the municipal archive, located in the building, the famous Book of the Chain, a codex from the 13th century, is kept. The Town Hall building is also the custodian of the Clock Tower bells, made in 1595, and of some solid silver parade maces from the 16th century. The Clock Tower, also popularly known as Prison Tower, Gothic-medieval, housed the clock-bell and was in 1602 the headquarters of the city's prisons.
The Citadel of Jaca also known as Castle of San Pedro, is a military fortification that began to be built in the late sixteenth century and was completed in the seventeenth century. One of the spaces that we can admire in its interior is a very interesting Museum of Military Miniatures. The hermitage of Sarsa, from the 12th century rural Romanesque. The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Victoria, formerly dedicated to Santa María de Mocorones. The church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the only remaining construction of the former convent of Nuestra Señora del Carmen de los Carmelitas Descalzos. The church of Santiago, also known as the church of Santo Domingo. And how can we forget the cathedral of San Pedro de Jaca, 11th and 12th century, a National Monument and Site of Cultural Interest, and considered one of the most important monuments of the entire Romanesque peninsula. In our walk we can also enjoy beautiful and curious outdoor sculptures, such as the water column, the swans, the Ramiro I ...
Continuing with our walk, now around Jaca, we see the Bridge of San Miguel, over the Aragon River, one of the few medieval bridges still standing in the Aragonese Pyrenees. Built very possibly in the 15th century and declared a Historic-Artistic Monument, it is currently a Site of Cultural Interest. But if we want to see a good view of Jaca we will have to approach the Fort of Rapitán which, on the hill of the same name to the north of the city, merges with the landscape. This artillery fort was built in the 19th century and most of the construction is underground, as protection against enemy artillery. Immersed in the protected landscape of San Juan de la Peña and Monte Oroel, one of the most important mid-mountain ecosystems in the whole of the Aragonese Pyrenees, among dense forests and conglomerate escarpments, home to important populations of birds of prey, we find the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, the old one, a spectacular Romanesque building where nature and art meet spirituality.
And above the old monastery, on a high plateau, the new monastery of San Juan de la Peña whose construction was completed in 1714. From its enclave there are different hiking routes that take us to beautiful viewpoints from where we can enjoy wide panoramic views. As well as from the top of the Peña Oroel, symbol of the city of Jaca, where the whole valley of Aragon is at our feet. Jaca, admired and quoted by great writers, Cervantes in his Quixote talking about its great mountains, Unamuno praising the Peña de Oroel ... and its strategic location in the Pyrenees, gives us the opportunity to practice any mountain activity, hiking, mountaineering, climbing ... and in winter skiing in any of its nearby winter resorts. The Aragonese Way of Saint James, which enters Spain through the Somport Pass, has a good point and followed in Jaca on its first Spanish day.
Jaca celebrates its patron saint festivities in honor of Santa Orosia on June 25. The celebration of the First Friday of May is in commemoration of the victory of a small group of jacetanos over the thousands of Muslim warriors who were trying to conquer Jaca, according to the tradition on the first Friday of the month of May of the year 760. This fact that occurred under the protection of the Virgin of Victory.
According to tradition, the place where the current La Victoria hermitage is located, originally in Santa María de Mocorones, was where the battle between the Jaqueses and the Muslims who were trying to conquer the city of Jaca took place. According to the oral tradition, when it seemed that everything was lost, the women of Jaca, entrusting themselves to the Virgin of the Victory, went out with their shiny household goods to help their men. When the Muslims saw what they believed to be a large, heavily armed Christian army approaching, they fled in droves. Since then, the Jacetanos come down every first Friday of May to this spot to fulfill their vow to the Virgin of Victory in recognition of her intercession in the victory. A great celebration with pilgrimage, parades... that culminates when the hymn is sung in front of the Town Hall building. The festival of the First Friday of May in Jaca was declared a Festival of Tourist Interest in Aragon in 2004.
Jaca, capital of the Kingdom of Aragon and seat of the Aragonese bishops, came to mint its own currency, the Jaques Salary. Throughout its history, countless numbers of pilgrims have come to its cathedral who, on their Way to Santiago, crossed the Pyrenees via Somport. Under the Trinitarian chrismon of the cathedral's tympanum, a key piece of the Jacobean route, there is a column to the left of the main entrance that has a crack in the shaft, perhaps caused by the kisses and caresses of so many faithful devotees who have passed and are passing through here.
Legend has it that Orosia was a princess who was martyred for defending her purity. And that a shepherd walking with his flock between Jaca and nearby Yebra de Basa found the body of the young girl whose head had been cut off. Doubting where to take it, he chose to bring the head to Yebra de Basa and the decapitated body to Jaca. These relics have been preserved ever since on the high altar of the cathedral. That is why every 25th of June the two towns coincide to celebrate their big day, the day of Santa Orosia.
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The A-21 and the old N- 240 road connect Jaca with Pamplona. The E-7 connects with Huesca in one direction and with France in the other. The N-330 and the A-23 also connect with Zaragoza and Huesca.
The bus station is located in the heart of Jaca, Av. de la Jacetania, 22700 Jaca, Huesca. Telephone 974 355 060. It has regular services with different timetables that connect it with Zaragoza, Huesca, and Pamplona, as well as with the towns on the routes.
Jaca has a train station located in the northeast of the town, on Station Street. It has regional service. The main destinations of the medium distance trains operated by Renfe are Zaragoza and Canfranc.
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