Starting the run back home after our time on the east coast of Spain (see the blogs here and here for the previous stops) we were drawn to a particular place as an en-route stop. We had spotted an article about this place a year or more back. Then we met a couple heading north in the Pyrenees who had just stopped there and recommended it. It was on our route back anyway so we could see no reason not to stop off there.
The place is Albarracin. The pictures we had seen suggested it was somewhere we would like. It is a little to the west of Teruel and off the main road which heads to Zaragoza which was the way we were heading. Inland Spain never ceases to surprise us and generally delight us. We found ourselves heading up a fairly narrow gorge on a plateau some 1000 metres above sea level. The terrain was bare and, outside the valley, rocky. Then we saw Albarracin. It is a remarkable setting and place. Set above a bend in the river, dating back to the 11th century and fortified with a remarkable wall, we’d not seen anything quite like it. The campsite – simple but pleasant – was about 2 kilometres from the town but an easy cycle run. We explored the town to some degree the afternoon we arrived. We had decided we would stay for a couple of nights and were glad we did. The next day was a Saturday and the town was very busy though almost solely with Spanish visitors. It seems to be one of those places far less well known to people outside the country.
There is a really timeless quality to the place. Had we seen hordes of armed men on horseback galloping over the hills it would not have surprised us I think. The tiny winding streets had great architectural features as well as small bars, cafes etc. Walking out from the town – uphill as everything is there – brings you to the wall and allows better views back towards the town. Equally walking along the river that runs around part of the base of the town gives a good idea of how well defended by nature the town is. Everything is steep or vertical! Talking to some other visitors at the campsite all agreed that it really was like nowhere else they had seen. Given its location I’d be surprised if we didn’t stop off there again sometime. I probably took more photos in a two day period there than anywhere else on this run.
In addition to the images here there are a few more, and mostly monochrome, images in my Flickr feed. After this the run back was uneventful. We stopped again at Saint-Jean-de-Luz at a different campsite which we’d used before and is open all year. After that we headed back to Calais without rushing. We’d travelled a little over 3000 miles (around 5000 kilometres) on the trip and seen places we’d not seen before. Our experiences of inland Spain left us feeling that a future trip might well focus on that aspect of Spain.