The Aran Valley, a different territory
Located north of Catalonia, the Pyrenees this valley has an area of 620 km2 and forms the border with France and Aragon. As a last Catalonia, emerged as a strategic location during the Civil War.
Enjoys the title of being unique as it is the only one with Atlantic characteristics, which gives it a very special green vegetation, with lush forests jaw-dropping to anyone who observe. His enormous attractive landscape and its unique architecture and its language peculiarities (Aranese), provide it with a unique singularity.
It should, however, distinguish between the High Aran tourist oriented resort that provides huge revenue due mainly to the famous resort of Baqueira ( Naut Aran ) and Lower Aran, whose bid opts for a more rural tourism and economic.
Aranese, a people zealous self
Aranese village has a strong personality due to the mountainous landscape inhabited inaccessible during the winter and often exceeds an altitude of 2,000 m. This natural barrier has conditioned always communicate with its neighbors, making them a self-enclosed community, faithful defender of their customs and their language, Aranese. In fact, it is the only place where this variety of Occitan language is official.
However, their neighborhood contacts became more frequent after the construction, in 1924, the Port of Bonaigua and, 24 years later, Vielha tunnel, which helped them to interact and trade with other regions.
The Port of Bonaigua, original entrance to the valley
Through the C-28 arrived at the traditional entrance to the valley, the Port of Bonaigua, located between the villages of Esterri d'Àneu and Baqueira ( Naut Aran ) is one of the most famous in Catalonia.
It offers spectacular views over 2,072 meters high, but it is not always easy to visit because, due to long periods of snow, usually closed several months a year.
In it we find the Virgin Church of Ares, who enjoys a great view of the port side just rising, and the refuge of the same name, a strategic point of rest for travelers.
Baqueira, must for skiers
Following the road, the next stop is one of the most sought after by lovers of the sport in general, and the jet-set, in particular. Not surprisingly, Baqueira is the season's most famous country skiing and characterizing the Upper Aran.
Although it is located in a place of great natural value, surrounded by towering mountains, Baqueira limited to being a large hotel complex where there is nothing to see or do except, of course, skiing.
Montgarri Valley, Sanctuary covens
A few kilometers from Baqueira ( Naut Aran ), we find Pla de Beret, entry point Montgarri Valley, an esplanade over 1800 meters was once the scene of much of witches covens as sorcerers.
To get there you need to leave the car in Pla de Beret and cross a small bridge that leads into the valley. Large areas of grass begin this journey, which usually lasts three hours, to enter a lush forest with several streams.
With a little luck, you may find a specimen of fauna living there, like mountain goats, wild cats and even bears some French venture to cross the border.
The tour ends at the Shrine of Montgarri a church renancentista enjoying perfect conditions thanks to the restoration has been done on it and whose situation is ideal for relaxing and watching the landscape bathed in the river Noguera Pallaresa.
After visiting the shrine, we can enter the shelter is a few meters with an architecture similar to the above, which provides a nice break for hikers and hot drinks to cope with the cold glacier.
A little later we find the village itself Montgarri ( Naut Aran ), which lost its last inhabitant in 1960 due to the harsh living conditions.
Salardú, the capital of Upper Aran
Old cabin of the first pilgrims arriving exhausted after spending the Port of Bonaigua, the town of Salardú ( Naut Aran ) is located in a strategic location overlooking the entire valley. For this reason it was fortified in medieval times but, today, little remains of its walls.
From its ruins still stands the church of St. Andrew, built in s. XII where there was a castle. Romanesque and Gothic style, its soaring tower can be seen from any viewpoint in the area. Odd manor of s is conserved. XVII.
From here there are several possible excursions. Note the following heading north toward stocks and Bagergue Unha, the highest town in the valley 1419 m. The route spans Unyola Valley, where you will find breathtaking waterfalls, falling from 30 m high, to reach Lake Liat.
Vienna, commercial and administrative center of the region
However, the capital of the Aran Valley is Vielha , one of the main tourist centers in the area that still retains some old cobbled streets and edges, pens or barns of the time.
Although it has been suggested that the traditional entrance to the valley is the Puerto de la Bonaigua, Vielha has replaced him as the most frequented path through Vielha tunnel with its 5 km long, is a curious way due to the sudden both climatic change and landscape offered.
In this city you can visit the church of San Miguel (Sant Miquèu) whose portico with representations of figures Judgement surprise anyone who observe. In it are important parts as a Romanesque baptismal font and the Middle Aran Christ known a life-size figure dating from s. XII.
Here is also the Museu dera Val d'Aran, a comprehensive historical and ethnological exhibition of the valley.
Entrance to Lower Aran
We last capital and taking the national road N-230 headed to the northern part of the Aran Valley, a territory populated by small villas in a fantastic landscape. We will highlight the people of Vilamòs as the point from where numerous trips to different forests in the area.
It should be noted that this city is not worth the visit as both the road leading to it, whose views are spectacular.
Bossost, a village surrounded by seven chapels
Is imposed to stop by Bossòst not in vain is one of the most important tourist centers of Aranese territory and has one of the most impressive forests of spruce valley.
There are several things to see in this town like the Church of the Assumption of Mary, the s. XII, one of the finest Romanesque churches with some Lombard influence are preserved; the ruins of an old castle and of course, the seven chapels that surround the villa.
Les and his Roman spa tradition
Shortly before reaching the border with France should not forget the small but charming village of Les . Your typical Pyrenean architecture based on wood and slate, along with posters written in Aranese, makes the visitor feel he is in a faraway country of which is actually located.
There are still some remains of the Baths of them, dated 1852, with water at 35 ° C temperature were perfect for rheumatism and various skin diseases and bone. Outside, the ruins of the castle of Les Barons and chapel of San Blas protect the villa.