A trip to the times of La Reconquista

Many of the spanish villages that still keep their medieval atmosphere were war scenes in an era when the only consideration to kill someone was their faith.

Knights, castles, kings, battles and monasteries. The north of Aragon takes you one thousand years ago to the Reconquista, when brave nobles were deceived by a supremacist clergy who believed its religion to be better than the one from their neighbours, the Muslims; who were murdered and converted for 800 years until they were expelled from Spain in 1492.  However, what king has ever needed any excuse to conquer lands where expand his power?

One of the most distinguished Spanish kings was Fernando from Aragon, born in a small village in the north of Aragon, known as Sos del Rey Católico, in honour to the monarch. This little medieval village was built in the middle of the Reconquista, around a castle on the summit of a hill. Sos is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain for its traditional architecture. The old town is formed by houses built with the same kind of stones, the streets are cobbled the same way and many of the medieval buildings from the age are kept well, such as the church of San Esteban, the tower of honour, the market, some parts of the wall and the Palace of Sada, where the Catholic King was born.

In the centre of the village there is the square Plaza de la Villa, dominated by the Town Hall, a Renaissance building erected in the 16th century. Nevertheless, people rather watch it from the bar located under a medieval porch that demarcates the square.  Not far from the square, behind the Palace of Sada, there is the Jewish quarter, nowadays known as “High Quarter”. Jewish began to arrive in Sos del Rey Católico from the 11th century and they lived there until 1492, when the Catholic Kings expelled them from Spain. Given its closeness to the Kingdom of Navarre, most of the Jewish who lived in Sos emigrated to the neighbour kingdom. Curiously, Christians have tolerated Jewish more than Muslims. During the medieval age many Jewish were allowed to live in their quarters, while Muslims where converted or murdered.

At the top of the village there was the castle, built as a fortress to defend itself from the Muslim’s attacks. However, nowadays only the Tower of Honour is still standing. Around it there’s left an enclosure which is used as a viewpoint, from where the village can be seen and at the end also the mountains of Leyre, in Navarre. Beside them, the Monastery of San Salvador of Leyre can be found. There is evidence of this Benedictine monastery since the 9th century. Although it has suffered some remodelling along the centuries, its Romanic style stands out. Especially the crypt, which apart from never been used as a burial place, it also stands out for its dimensions, above all the tiny columns crowned by huge capitals. Nevertheless, the monastery not only had religious uses, but military too, since it had the leading role in some battles during the Reconquista and was burnt by the Almanzor and Abd al-Maliq’s troupes.

Though this area was inhabited by the Muslims for many years, there barely are left remainders of their architecture. Everything was replaced by the Christian culture.


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