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Spain: Mountain air at Puertomingalvo

Spain: Mountain air at Puertomingalvo

This remote village in the province of Teruel, in Aragon, is classified in Los Pueblos más Bonitos de España, the most beautiful villages in Spain. It is a small stone symphony in the mountainous and wild nature of the Maestrazgo Cultural Park, belonging to the arid lands of the Cordillera. Already inhabited in Roman times and dominated by the castle torn to the Arabs in 1181, Puertomingalvo is a place with a strange charm, where it is nice to walk in solitude through the narrow streets, certainly thought to fill the eyes with wind, mountains and views. Walking through its quiet streets looking at the balconies, the wooden gutters of the roofs, the cut stone blocks, the view from the castle or Portal Alto, is an experience to do. And if we want to know better the nature of these barren hills, we can walk along the Rio Linares up to the waterfall of the Arquero.

What is Puertomingalvo made of? Wind, silence and stone. This is how we welcome this village of 120 inhabitants in Gúdar-Javalambre, one of the 33 comarche (unions of municipalities of the same province) in which the Aragon is subdivided. We are in full Maestrazgo Cultural Park, one of the most fascinating areas of eastern Spain. In Puertomingalvo the mountain air - we are at 1456 meters above sea level - does not prevent us from seeing the sea in the distance on clear days. To do so, you need to get out of the village and go up to the fourteenth-century Hermitage of Santa Barbara. We came up here that there were still festoons and flags of summer festivals: we therefore missed the pilgrimage in early June, when walking through the green meadows from the village you reach the sixteenth century hermitage of San Barnaba.

Border land, the Maestrazgo. The Arab influences are already evident in the toponym Puertomingalvo, composed of the Latin portum, in the sense of "mountain pass", and the name of the Muslim king Ibn-Galbon. The military importance of the place can be read in the remains of the bastion built with bricks of the Almohadi era. The castle, torn from the Arabs by the Aragonese conquest of 1181, dates back to its present form in the mid-thirteenth century. Located in the upper part of the village on a limestone rock spur, it is now used, in the part that remains, as a scenery for shows in the interior patio, while the highest tower - the tower of the Ommaggio - houses a collection of old objects worn by time.

The Ayuntamiento, that is the town hall, all in cut stone blocks, dates back to the XIV century and is one of the most significant examples of the civil Gothic architecture of the province of Teruel. To protect the mullioned windows of the façade from above, there is the beautiful carved wooden eaves of the roof. The alero de madera is typical of the Aragonese Renaissance architecture and incorporates the Arabic tradition of wood decorated for the roofs, capable of softening the severe Gothic constructions. In the old prisons of the town hall there is a documentation center on the Maestrazgo castles.

Arches, portals, wrought iron balconies, Gothic windows ennoble this small rural village surrounded by walls, which can be reached by winding mountain roads surrounded by dry stone walls. Balcony of the Maestrazgo, Puertomingalvo from the top of his castle surveys the severe landscape and, in the summer, barren, of the sierra of Gudar, which goes well with the stone: its beautiful piedra de sillería in rectangular blocks.

With quiet step, under a sky of undecided colors, we walk among the old houses. Silence is the sign that history has forgotten you, Puertomingalvo. In Calle del Horno, the clothes hung out to dry on the balconies compete in lightness with the fluttering festoons of an already concluded fiesta. We pass in front of a house of 1680 and others with beaded curtains. We enter a ceramic laboratory. We stop in front of the portal of the eighteenth-century Church of the Purification. We admire buildings that are of stone symphonies, such as the Hospice of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a charitable institution founded in 1615, and the Casa Llorens, a Renaissance in its external and baroque appearance in decoration, with its elegant noble shield and magnificent cornices carved wood. In the village there are also surprising details of popular architecture, such as the inscriptions on the lintels and the handle in the shape of a phallus to open who knows what door.

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