Aragon (Spanish and Aragonese: Aragón, Catalan: Aragó) is an autonomous community of
Spain. Located in northeastern Spain, the region
comprises three provinces from
north to south: Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel.
capital is Zaragoza (also called
Saragossa in English).
northern province of Huesca borders France and is
positioned in the middle of the Pyrenees.
Spain, the region is flanked by Catalonia on the east, Valencia and Castile-La Mancha to the south, and Castile and Leon, La Rioja, and Navarre to the
Covering an area of , the region's terrain ranges diversely from
permanent glaciers to verdant valleys, rich pasture lands and
orchards, through to the arid steppe plains of the central
lowlands. Aragon is home to many rivers — most notably, the river
— Spain's largest river in volume, which
runs west-east across the entire region through the province of
Zaragoza. It is also home to the Aneto, the highest
mountain in the Pyrenees.
2006, the population was 1,277,471 – with half of the region's
people living in Zaragoza, its capital
addition to its three provinces, Aragon is subdivided into 33
comarcas or counties; all with a
rich geopolitical and cultural history
from its pre-Roman and
Roman days; and the four centuries of
Islamic period as Marca Superior of Alandalus or kingdom (or
taifa) of Saraqustah; and as lands that once
belonged to the Frankish Spanish March or Marca Hispanica; and counties that later
formed the Kingdom of
Aragon and eventually the empire or Crown of Aragon.
2006, half of Aragon's population, 50.8%, live in the capital city
of Zaragoza. Huesca is the only
other city in the region with a population greater than
The majority of Aragonese people, 71.8%, live in the province of
Zaragoza; 17.1% in Huesca and 11.1% in Teruel. The population
density of the region is the second lowest in Spain: only
26,8/km2; after Castilla La Mancha.
The most densely populated areas are around
the valley of the river Ebro
around Zaragoza and the Pyrenean foothills, while the areas with
the fewest inhabitants tend to be those that are higher up in the
Pyrenean mountains, and in the southern drier province of Teruеl.
cities have more than 20,000 inhabitants: Zaragoza 650,000; Huesca
50,000; Teruel 33,700 and
evolution of Aragon and
percentage of the total national
populationFuente: Data in INE. Censo de 1857, Series de población de hecho en España desde 1900 a
1991, y Series de población de España desde
Language distribution in Aragon.
addition to Spanish, understood and
spoken by virtually everyone in the region, the Aragonese language continues to be spoken
in the mountainous northern counties of the Pyrenees, particularly in western Ribagorza, Sobrarbe, Jacetania and Somontano
and is enjoying a resurgence of popularity as a tool for regional
identity. Similarly, in the comarcas of eastern
Aragón-Caspe, Bajo Aragón and
Matarraña, the Catalan
language is spoken.
Spanish is spoken in all of Aragon, and is the only official
The strip-shaped Catalan-speaking
area in Aragon is usually known as La
With such a low population density large areas of Aragon remain
wild and relatively untouched. It is a land of extreme natural
contrasts, both in climate and geologically, from the green valleys
and snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees to the dry plains and lonely
hilly areas of the south.
Pyrenees include splendid and varied landscapes with soaring
peaks, deep canyons, dense forests and spectacular
waterfalls. Its rugged peaks include the Aneto (3,404 m),
the highest in the range, the misty Monte Perdido (3,355 m), Perdiguero (3,221 m), Cotiella (2,912 m)
and many others.
Monte Perdido National Park, near the border with France, boasts some of the
most spectacular scenery in Europe with its canyons, frozen lake
caverns, numerous waterfalls and varied wildlife many species of
which are endemic to the Pyrenees.
The park is also one of
the last sanctuaries of birds of prey in the range. Many beautiful
mountain butterflies and flowers can be seen in the summer, while
during winter the region is a paradise for skiers.
principal valleys in the mountains include those of Hecho, Canfranc, , Benasque and others.
The green valleys hide pretty
villages with nice Romanesque
churches and typical
Pyrenean houses with flowers on the balconies. The oldest Romanesque
cathedral in Spain is located in the medieval town of Jaca in the very
northern part of Huesca Province.
In the Pyrenean foothills, or pre-Pyrenees, the Mallos de Riglos
are a famous natural rock
formation. Ancient castles nestle on lonely hills, the
most famous being the magnificent Loarre Castle.
Further south, the Ebro valley, irrigated by the river Ebro, is a
rich and fertile agricultural area covered with vast fields of
wheat, barley and other fruit and vegetable crops. Many beautiful
and little-known settlements, castles and Roman
ruins dot the landscape here.
the most notable towns here include Calatayud, Daroca, Sos del Rey
Catolico, Caspe and
Zaragoza and the Ebro valley, the elevation rises again into the
Ibérico, a mountain range that separates the Ebro valley
from the Meseta Central and plains of
The highest mountain in this range is the
Moncayo (2,313 m) and, despite getting less snow than in the
Pyrenees, it has several ski resorts.
Formigal (Huesca) winter
Aragon's climate can be defined like continental moderate, and is
determined by its elevation changes. Several Aragonese
climate zones can be observed: very cold - in the Pyrenees
mountains; a cold stop of the Pyrenean interior such as at Albarracín; temperate - in the Pyrenean and Iberian
pre-mountainous areas; a subwarm area - in the central depression
and the depressions of the Martín-Ebro river, Sariñena and
In the middle of Aragon, which is only above sea level, the annual
average temperature is around . To the north and south of the Ebro
valley, where the elevation rises to above sea level, the
temperature drops by two degrees. In the mountains, between and
observed temperatures are between .
Aragon came into being as a self-proclaimed kingdom in 1035 A.D., the northern counties of Jaca, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza were all independent marches and Frankish feudal fiefs. In a bid to stem
Frankish and Moorish
invasions, a northern alliance of the counties of Aragon,
Sobrarbe, Ribagorza, and the duchy of Castile united with the
Kingdom of Pamplona (later Navarre).
After King Sancho
's death, the kingdom was
divided between his sons. Ramiro
was initially named king of Aragon; later, after his brother
Gonzalo's death, he was also named king of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza.
kingdom of Aragon grew quickly, and incorporated Navarre. This kingdom conquered the Muslim kingdom
and city of Zaragoza in 1118.
Split from the kingdom of Navarre
, the kingdom of Aragon
was re-established in 1035 and lasted as a separate kingdom until
1591 when Felipe II of Castile invaded Saragossa and issues the
Nueva Planta decrees
invalidated the Aragonese laws and annexed the kingdom of Aragon to
Castile, creating thus the kingdom of Spain.
The dynastic union between Petronila, Queen of Aragon
, and Ramon Berenguer IV
Count of Barcelona, produced a son, Alfonso II of Aragon
who inherited all
their respective territories creating the Crown of Aragon
which included all lands,
titles and states previously until then outside of the Kingdom of
Aragon. This Crown was effectively ended after the dynastic union
with Castile (see below) but the title continued being used until
dynasty of the Kings of Aragon (called by some present-day
historians "Kings of Aragon and Counts of Barcelona") ruled the
present administrative region of Aragon, Catalonia, and later the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Sicily, Naples and
Sardinia (see Aragonese Empire).
Crown of Aragon, the king was the direct king of the Aragonese
region but also held the title of King
of Valencia, King of Majorca
(for a time), Count of Barcelona,
Lord of Montpellier, and (temporarily) Duke
of Athens and Neopatria.
Each of these titles gave him
sovereignty over a certain region, and these titles changed as he
lost and won territories.
The unsuccessful French assault of
Zaragoza in 1808
During the War of the
the advancing army of German, British and
Dutch troops defeated the Spanish Army in the battle of Saragossa
result of the battle Felipe V was
forced to abandon Madrid and
retreated to Valladolid.
During the Peninsular War
Aragonese capital was a site of two fierce sieges. During the
siege in 1808
defeated a superior French force. In 1809 during a
particularly bloody siege
the Spaniards were overwhelmed by superior enemy forces. In the
course of the siege almost 30,000 of the garrison and citizens of
Zaragoza (from a total of 32,000) perished instead of surrendering
the city. Two weeks after they breached the walls the French were
forced to fight for separate houses, squares, churches,
During the Spanish Civil War
Aragon saw the establishment of various anarchist communes.
to the south lies Teruel, famous for
its Mudejar architecture, which can be easily spotted in its
magnificent cathedral, churches and towers. Other notable towns
to the south include Albarracin, Alcañiz, Valderrobres, Mora de
Rubielos and many others.
medieval monuments of Teruel and Zaragoza are protected by UNESCO as part of
the World Heritage Sites
Architecture of Aragon.
The traditional dance is known as Jota
and is one of the faster and more beautiful dances of Spain.
Aragon is among the richest autonomous regions in Spain, with GDP
per capita above the nation's average. The traditional
agriculture-based economy from the mid 20th century has been
greatly transformed in the past several decades and now service and
industrial sectors are the backbone of the economy in the
The well-developed irrigation system around the Ebro has greatly
supported the productive agriculture. The most important crops
, fruit and grapes
Livestock-breeding is essential especially in the northern areas,
where the lush meadows provide excellent conditions for sheep and
cattle. The main livestock are cattle
– 2,862,100; pigs
– 3,670,000; goats
– 78,000 and
The chief industrial centre is the capital Zaragoza, where the
largest factories are located. The largest plant is the Opel
automotive plant with 8,730 employees and
production of 200,000 per year. It supports many related industries
in the area. Other large plants in the city include factories for
trains and household appliances. Mining of iron
ore and coal
is developed to the south, near
Ojos Negros. Electricity production is concentrated to
the north where numerous hydro power plants are located along the
Pyrenean rivers and in the 1,150 MW Teruel Power Plant.
There is an aluminium refinery in the town
of Sabiñánigo. The main centres of electronics industry are
Zaragoza, Huesca and Benabarre. Chemical industry is developed in Zaragoza,
Sabiñánigo, Monzón, Teruel,
Ojos Negros, Fraga, Benabarre
The transport infrastructure has been greatly improved.
more than of motorways which run from
Zaragoza to Madrid, Teruel,
Basque country, Huesca and Barcelona.
The condition of the other roads is also
good. As of 2005 there are 520,000 cars in Aragon. Through the territory
of the province runs the new high-speed railway between Madrid and
Barcelona with siding from Zaragoza to Huesca, which is going to be
continued to the French
border. There is an International Airport at
Zaragoza, as well as several smaller airports at Huesca, Caudé, Santa Cilia de Jaca and Villanueva de
Government and Politics
autonomous community of Spain, Aragon has an elected regional
parliament or cortes, which sits at the Aljafería, a Moorish palace in the capital
List of Chancellors
The Aljafería palace
- Alfons de la Cavallería 1494 – 1508
- Tomás de Malferit 1508
- Antoni Agustí de Sicart 1508 – 1523
- Frederic Honorat de Gualbes de Vallseca (for
the Principality of Catalonia) 1523 – 1529
- Jeronimo de Rage (for Aragón Kingdom) 1523 – 1529
- Eiximèn Perez de Figuerola (for Valencia Kingdom) 1523 –
- Joan Sunyer 1529 – 1533
- Enrique Bierling 1533 – 1546
- Jeroni Descoll de Oliva 1546 – 1554
- Pere de Clariana de Seva 1554 – 1562
- Bernardo de Bolea y Portugal 1562 – 1585
- Simó Friigola 1585 – 1598
- Dídac Civarrubias Sanç 1598 – 1607
- Diego Clavera 1608 – 1612
- Andreu Roig 1612 – 1622
- President Garci Peréz de Araciel 1623
- President Juan Manuel de Mendoza Luna
Manrique, marquis of Montesclaros 1628
- President Enrique Pimentel, bishop of Cuenca 1628 – 1632
- President Francisco Fernández de la
Cueva, Duke of Dürbheim 1632 – 1637
- President Gaspar de Borja y de Velasco
1637 – 1645
- Maties Bayetola Cabanilles 1646 – 1652
- Cristòfor Crespí de Vallclaura Brizuela 1652 – 1671
- [elcior de Navarra Rocafull 1671 – 1677
- President Pasqual d'Aragó Folc de
- President Pere Antoni d'Aragó Folc de
Cardona i Córdoba 1677 – 1690
- Melcior de Navarra Rocafull 1690 – 1691 (second time)
- President Gaspar
Jan Girón y Sandoval y Weidner, duke of Spaichingen Osuna 1692 –
- President Ferran de Montcada-Aragó i
de Montcada 1695 – 1698
- President Rodrigo Manuel Manrique de
Lara y de Tabora 1698 – 1702
- President Iñigo de
la Cruz Manrique de Lara y Ramiréz de Arellano, count of Aguilar and Frigiliana 1702 – 1707
See list of Lieutenants of the
Kingdom of Aragón
The dynastic union of Castile
Aragon in 1479, when Ferdinand II
wed Isabella I of
, led to the formal creation of Spain as a single entity
in 1516. See List of Spanish
and Kings of
Spain family tree
With its lush pyrenean pastures, lamb, beef and dairy by-products
are, not surprisingly, predominant in Aragonese cuisine.
note is its ham from Teruel; olive oil
from Empeltre and Arbequina; longaniza from
Graus; rainbow trout and salmon, boar, truffle and wild mushrooms from the upper
river valleys of the Jacetania, Gallego, Sobrarbe, and
Ribagorza regions; and wines from Cariñena, Somontano,
Calatayud, and Campo de Borja;
and fruit, especially peaches, from its fertile lower
The region also features a unique local haggis
, known as chireta
several interesting seafood dishes, including various crab pastes,
which developed from an old superstition that crabs help prevent
Notable people from Aragon
- Enrique Bunbury (Enrique Ortiz
de Landázuri), is a Spanish rock singer-songwriter for Heroes del
Silencio and Enrique Bunbury Band.
- Katherine of Aragon, (1485 –
1536), was the first of Henry VIII of England's six wives.
Calasanz, (1557 – 1648), born in Aragon, was a Catholic priest who dedicated
himself to the education of poor boys at Rome and
founded a society pledged to that work.
- Francisco Garcés, (1738 –
1781), born in Aragon, was a missionary
priest to North
America who founded two pueblo missions.
- Santiago Ramón y
Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the human
brain and nervous system.
- Elizabeth of Aragon (Queen
Saint Elisabeth), (1271–4 – 1336), was queen consort of Portugal
and a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Francisco de Goya,
Servetus, theologian and physician who received numerous
charges of heresy by both Catholics and Protestants and was burnt
at the stake in Calvin's Geneva during the
- St. Jose Maria Escriva,
Spanish Catholic priest, founder of Opus
- Pablo Gargallo, sculptor and
Deluna, American fashion designer
with paternal ancestry from this region
- Luis Buñuel, film maker
- Baltasar Gracián, Writer
of Spanish Baroque literature.
- Antipope Benedict XIII,
(1328-1423) Avignon pope and Aragonese art patron-sponsor.
- Ferdinand II of Aragon,
married Isabella of Castile and
united Aragon with the kingdom of
- Carlos Saura, film maker