Why visit Ainsa, Spain?
Why visit Ainsa?
The medieval hilltop village of Ainsa, looming high above the modern town below, is a stunning example of a place that time forgot. As you walk around its perfectly preserved stone buildings, it’s impossible to believe it isn’t the set of a period drama and from its commanding position the panoramic views it affords, especially across the La Peña Montañesa, take the breathe away. The town is also a wonderful base, especially for those with a car and a love for hiking, due to its proximity to the 4 national parks: Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido, Parque Natural de la Sierra de Guara, Valle de Pineta & Parque Posets Maladeta.
Ainsa: The Facts
Ainsa’s history traces its way all the way to the 8th century, as people took refuge in the hills following the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsular. Organised by national hero Garci-Ximenez, the rag-tag army pushed back the invaders at the Battle of Sobrarbe, where today the Covered Cross stands as a monument.
Subsequently, Ainsa became the capital of the medieval kingdom of Sobrarbe and is often identified as the birthplace of the Kingdom of Aragon. Today’s Ainsa owes much of its present appearance to the early Middle Ages, when in the 11th century, a castle was constructed as part of a series of military fortifications across Spain‘s north coast and the medieval town grew up around it.
As the Middle Ages progressed, Ainsa was superseded in importance as the Reconquista (Reconquest) of Spain pushed south and the town started its slow decline. People left in search of work and opportunity and the town’s population shrank. Nowadays, Ainsa is slowly growing once again, supported by the ever increasing tourism sector.
The climate in Ainsa is generally warm and temperate but there is significant rainfall throughout the year. The average annual temperature is 11.4oC, in the summer months 19.7oC and the winter 3.6oC
The town’s most important festival la Morisma takes place on last weekend of August and is a popular recreation of the reconquest of the village from the Muslims by the Christian armies, helped according to legend by the apparition of a flaming cross on an oak tree. Other local festivals include the local patron day celebrations St. Sebastián: 19-20 January and Fiesta of Ainsa which takes place on the 1st Sunday in August.