To discover Albarracín can be one of the best experiences in a Spanish tour. Albarracín is a walled town of just over a thousand inhabitants, but is probably the greatest example of a Mudejar town in Spain.
- 1 What is Mudejar?
- 2 Reasons to discover Albarracín
- 3 A bit of history of Albarracín
- 4 How to arrive to Albarracín?
- 5 Discover Albarracín: What to do?
- 6 Where to eat and drink in Albarracín
- 7 Where to stay in Albarracín
- 8 Teruel + Albarracín Tour from Valencia
What is Mudejar?
A mudejar was a muslim person in the reconquested Christhian territories of the current Spain in the medieval ages, between the 13th and 16th centuries. Initially some of them kept their faith but afterwards they needed to convert (or at least pretend) to Christianism by force. In those territories where the islamic influence was very important, the style and the architecture methods were still used to build many facilities, including Christian churches.
Aragon, and Teruel Province especially, is one of the most important territories to admire this kind of art in Spain. And to discover Albarracín is probably, with Calatayud, one of the greatest ways to spot and understand the popular Mudejar style.
Check here our full review about Calatayud.
Reasons to discover Albarracín
Albarracín leads many of the lists of the most beautiful towns in Spain and some of what include the best in Europe. This town preserves all its medieval essence, all its authenticity. It has many narrow and steep streets with amazing examples of popular and some magnificent constructions, such as houses, churches, towers in Mudejar style and the perfect walls, very common in the Arabic towns.
What is really interesting about Albarracín is that since the town didn’t develop as an important town in recent times, it has remained very well preserved. It is remarkable the style of the very basic houses. Sometimes you will feel that a piece of Medieval Morocco has been preserved in Spain.
In addition, you will enjoy a town with all the services, like excellent gastronomy, cute local bars and good parking to arrive by car. Albarracín is a popular destination for Spanish tourists but it is quite an unspoiled target for international travellers. It is a good plan to arrive from Valencia to skip the crowd and take a break on your beach vacation.
A bit of history of Albarracín
Albarracín and its surroundings were, during the Andalusian period, a small kingdom. We call this small Muslim kingdoms in the historic Spain taifas. The town’s name comes from the lineage that ruled it in the Medieval period, al-Banu Razin, the city of the sons of Razin. The Andador tower, at the top of the town, and the old citadel of the Banu Razin are remains of that period.
The taifa passed by cession to a Christian family from Navarra, the Azagra, who maintained the independence of Albarracín from the powerful kingdoms of Castile and Aragon until the end of the 13th century. Quite a miracle and a excepcional case within the Spanish medieval history.
How to arrive to Albarracín?
This is the best way to arrive to Albarracín.
It is 1 hour and 30 minutes trip from Zaragoza, 2 hours from Valencia, less than 4 from Madrid and around 4 and half from Barcelona. The nearest city is Teruel where you can take a bus or a train to Cella.
You have to options from Teruel: Autobuses Jiménez or Autobuses Navarro. Departures from Teruel Bus Station. 45 minutes trip.
The nearest station to Albarracín is Cella (22 km from Albarracín).
Taxi Rural Santiago González: (+34) 680 25 89 01
Discover Albarracín: What to do?
The walls go up and down the hills that surround the town. You can admire them from the village looking up to the hills, but the best way to enjoy them is to take the effort to walk up to the top. It is free.
The Cathedral of El Salvador
was built between 1572 and 1600 on top of an earlier Romanesque and Mudejar temple. The main access to the cathedral is through the cloister door, through a steep staircase. Its interior is structured by a single nave with some chapels. The cathedral was renovated at the beginning of the 18th century and it has a masonry bell tower and the interior highlights the main altarpiece.
Houses and streets
Since the popular art and style is the most interesting thing about visiting Albarracín, just taking a stroll will make you happy. The reddish plaster of the houses sets up the armony of the perfect muslim old town and the heraldic shields of the facades remind you to be in the middle of the Medieval Spain. The are many famous houses in Albarracín like Casa de los Navarro de Arzuriaga, very singular in Albarracín because its blue colour. Nevertheless, the most iconic and picturesque house is La Julianeta because of its singular shape and the most famous corner is Rincón del Abanico.
Calle Santiago, Calle Postigo and Calle Azagra are the best assets to admire the traditional pale red houses with balconies.
You can also visit Casa Museo Pérez y Toyuela, which is a house of the XVII Century open everyday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The Andalusian Alcazar
The Andalusian Alcázar became a Fortress Castle with the conquest of Aragon. It is probably the most impressive and important historic building in Albarracín. Today its structure can still be seen from many points in town and it helps to imagine the importance of the town in the past. The Alcázar de Albarracín was almost completely destroyed in the War of Succession in the early 18th Century.
Churches and Hermitage
You can spot the bell towers from many of the viewpoints of the town. Besides the Cathedral you should visit Iglesia de Santa María y Santiago and Ermita de San Juan.
Plaza Mayor is an iconic square out of stone buildings, with nice arches and a couple of nice terraces around. It has one of the best viewpoints in town.
Torre de Doña Blanca and its legend
Doña Blanca was the youngest sister of one of the kings of the Crown of Aragon. She was a princess of extraordinary beauty. So much that her brother’s wife was jealous of her. When her brother ascended the throne, Doña Blanca was imprisoned in the tower during a stopover in Albarracín on a trip to Castile. The Azagra family never revealed what happened to the princess but the legend says that Doña Blanca died of melancholy inside the tower. The inhabitants of Albarracín say that every full moon night during the summer, when the bells of the church of Santa María ring at midnight, you can see the figure of a woman who goes down to bathe in the Guadalaviar River. It is the spirit of Doña Blanca, who wanders with grief through the city that saw her die.
Where to eat and drink in Albarracín
- La Taverna Albarracín. The best place in town for tapas in the perfect location, just in Plaza Mayor. It is a good option for breakfast and drinks.
- La Taba Restaurant. It joins the traditional and the latest gastronomic trends, with quality local products.
- El Buen Yantar Restaurant. The location is excellent since it is close to Plaza Mayor. It is a charming, cozy and very quiet restaurant, where you can taste the traditional food, based on local products such as lamb from Aragon, ham from Teruel and local cheese.
- Bar El Molino del Gato. Located in an old mill from the 16th century. It is a very unique bar that offers an ideal environment to chat or have a drink.
Where to stay in Albarracín
- Habitaciones Los Palacios. Located in Los Palacios neighborhood, its rooms provide an extraordinary panoramic view of the town. The rooms are clean and comfortable and the stuff is friendly.
- Hotel Doña Blanca. They take care about the details such as a proper hotel boutique. The rooms have excellent views from their balconies.
We will start our adventure and travel in time. We will relive distant times in which Moorish and Christian peoples coexisted and fought on the frontier. You will get to know the thrilling and tragic story of the Lovers of Teruel: an authentic Spanish love tale which happened 350 years before Shakespeare wrote Romeo & Juliet. We will discover the Mudéjar architecture which is World Heritage and the fruit of the meeting of civilizations in Teruel. Hidden among the mountains, we will storm the defiant walled town of Albarracín; majestic, proud and independent. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages in Europe. Erected on a rock and protected by a river, it offers a portal into another time.