Gentle readers, I was lucky enough to attend an incredible weekend event in the town of Teruel. Like many places in Spain, this area boasts a very unique culture and community, and is the provincial capital of its own province, the Province of Teruel. Before I get into the weekend explanations, let’s talk a little about the town itself. This is a pretty harsh environment, and is usually considered one of the consistently coldest places in Spain to live, and it was extremely brisk when the sun set. I was afraid that my ears would freeze, I would bump into something, and my ears would chip off of my head.
What Teruel offers in a wonderful way is an incredible view, a rich history, an involved community, some amazing prehistoric sites, and a sense of authentic Spain. Not too many years ago, Teruel was “forgotten” when the country was making infrastructure strides, and now is still the only capital in all of the Spanish provinces without a direct railway link to Madrid. The roads used to be substandard, and the interstates nonexistent. That changed with a local citizen group using the logo “Teruel Existe!” as a plea to remind the national leaders that Teruel still deserved to be recognized in the infrastructure improvements. Today, many cars in Teruel still sport bumper stickers with the phrase.
Teruel is also known for the Serrano ham that is exported from the region. As a vegetarian, I don’t really have much to say about that, except that serrano means “from the mountains.” For those of you who eat meat, you are welcome that I included it.
Ahhhhhh, but the architecture is amazing! For a small pueblo located in the mountains, the area boasts a unique style of Moor-influenced building called Mudéjar architecture. (Say after me: Moo-DAY-har. Now go tell someone else!) This type of architecture is unlike most other styles from the period, because more expensive materials like tile and ornamental metalwork were not available. The Muslim craftsmen who stayed in the region after it was conquered by the Iberian Christians used bricks to create incredible textures and surfaces to enliven the buildings. Today, some of these buildings in Teruel have become World Heritage Sites, and the beauty of these structures is awe-inspiring. You will see some examples of mudéjar buildings below, blending Roman and European structures with Muslim elements for incredible results.
I was lucky that the weather was so incredibly crisp and clear. The pictures reflect the characteristic Spanish light is so bright, but causes such deep shadows in its polarity. I think you will agree with me that the town of Teruel is treasure in the mountains!