|Loarre, camouflaged against its rocky outcrop|
Photos in this post 2019 Jessica Knauss
|Loarre's first line of defense is that if they approached from the mountain pass, |
the enemies couldn't see Loarre, but Loarre could see them.
|Photo 2019 Daniel Sanz|
|This panorama catches most of what remains of the thirteenth-century wall.|
The outer wall was not built by the original architects, but it still combines usefulness and beauty. Created in the thirteenth century, it defended the castle and the town around it. They didn't have to build the wall all the way around because the rocks, the original and ultimate defense, were already there, and will continue there long after the castle falls into ruin. The town moved down the hill in the sixteenth century, and people took many stones from the wall to build new houses.
|The topmost tower is also the oldest: the keep.|
|A watchtower, end of the eleventh century, separate from the rest of the castle,|
takes in the view perfectly. The tower may have been connected
to the castle with a bridge or tunnel at some point.
Halfway up the stairs, a small doorway lets you into the Crypt of Santa Quiteria.
|The church isn't twisted. This is some strange|
The Church of San Pedro would be worth visiting all by itself. The monks who moved in during the second half of the eleventh century spared no expense in constructing a grandiose place of worship that reaches for the heavens. Large windows flood the blind arches and 84 decorated capitals with light. There's space here for a hundred monks or more.
|The capitals include mythological figures ...|
|... Biblical figures ...|
|... and plant designs.|
Even the capitals up too high to see have scenes on them.
Leaving the church, you come upon the monks' dormitories. They kept livestock in the space below and slept above. In this way, they took advantage of the ecological heat generated by the livestock. Winters here at the foot of the Pyrenees could be deadly cold.
The arches were built as mere supports for the rooms, which have since disappeared. Now that the arches have been revealed again, they're highly admired by architecture historians, the guide said.
See that "crack" in the sloped floor? It's actually plumbing. It leads from a cistern near the bodega and uses gravity to evacuate rainwater (and what comes out of the privy room!) using the force of gravity all the way out of the castle, keeping it rainwater fresh. Was the creator of this feat of engineering also the architect who came up with so many wonderful strategic defenses?
|Confusing passages full of beautiful angles.|
This is taken from where the weapons were stored.
|This is one of the lovely double windows |
|At some point during the visit, you can look |
back on the entrance to the church from above.
|Looking back toward the start of the Pyrenees from the arms patio.|
|On a clear day, you can see Zaragoza.|
|The Church of Santa Maria and the Hoya de Huesca beyond;|
barracks buildings on the right
|The monks' dorms seen from the keep|
|Photo 2019 Daniel Sanz|
Why has Loarre come through the ages without the interference of later architectural styles? Easy. The border moved, and the King of Aragón saw fit to move the base of military operations along with it to a place called Montearagón. I don't think Montearagón enjoyed the same good luck as Loarre, and not much, if anything, survives to this day.
|The last angle: Loarre seen from the "campsite" restaurant|
Daniel and I stuffed our empty stomachs at a "campsite" restaurant (read: a rustic place that gives you tremendous amounts of fresh food from the area, prepared for the delight of foodie Instagrammers) not far from the meeting points for rafting and paragliding. Loarre was never attacked, but it conquered my heart.