Although the temperatures have not yet fallen much, it is time to realise that the summer is over and any minute now it will be time to get your quilted jacket and make for the mountains for winter sports. We’re going to tell you about one of the best hotels in the Pyrenees.
Getaway to the mountains? We stayed in a charming hotel in the Pyrinees
A legend is hidden away among mountains, valleys and meandering footpaths. The legend that gave the Pyrenees their name and shape. Where it all started. According to the legend, Hercules came to Iberia to steal the oxen of Geryon, the monstrous giant, who was trying to capture Pirene. However, the nymph managed to escape and hid somewhere between Spain and France.
Furious at the flight of his hostage, Geryon decided to set fire to the place in order to find her, but Pirene, engulfed in flames, cried out in desperation and from her tears sprang the lakes. Hercules heard her and ran to her aid but when he found her, the nymph was dying and only had just enough time to tell the hero what had happened to her. Hercules, stunned by the tragic death of Pirene, decided to build a mausoleum over her body by piling up rocks and stones that he gathered. In this way, he built a huge mountain range that he called the Pyrenees in honour of the nymph Pirene.
Mythology aside, what is certain is that the real Aragon Pyrenees is a natural wonder, dotted with towns built from stone which, as well as legends, tell histories of events that happened once upon a time and have been passed on down through people, landmarks and customs…
Boltaña, in the north-east of the province, is one of them. With one of the oldest historic town centres in the area and a network of narrow streets, its muted colour palette and centuries-old buildings, you could imagine that you had landed back in the Middle Ages. There is the Colegiata de San Pedro (Collegiate Church of Saint Peter), for instance, or the castle.
Built on the site of a small sixteenth-century Romanesque church, the Gothic-style Colegiata is one of the largest such churches in the Pyrenees, with ribbed vaulting and an eighteenth-century Baroque choir. Older still is the castle of Boltaña, construction of which began in 1017, and which consists of a tower and castle walls.
Get ready for winter sports
If the Pyrenees are famous for anything besides their beautiful scenery, it is for the range of options they offer for enjoying nature while engaging in sporting activities: cycling, climbing, hiking, canyoning… and, of course, skiing.
By means of the Red natural de Aragón (Aragon trail network), the traveller is able to design his or her own excursion, by choosing from among the myriad paths. For example, the Posets Maladeta Natural Park presents 14 options, the Ordesa and Monte Perdido Natural Park 17 and the Paisaje Protegido (Protected area) de San Juan de la Peña and Monte Oroel offers 8. As well as finding information about the hike, such as its length and duration, it is also possible to download the route onto a GPS device before leaving the hotel or to find out the conditions of the route will be like.
The Valle de Tena, also surrounded by imposing massifs, forests, lakes and charming towns, is the ideal place for skiing in the Pyrenees, as it is home to the Aramon Formigal-Panticosa ski resort, or for following 29 BTT routes formed by over 500 kilometres of paths and tracks with varying levels of difficulty.
A “stroll” along the vía ferrata routes
For those who want to go a step further and are not interested in hurling themselves down ski slopes or cycling, there is always the adventure sports option: canyoning, paragliding, quad routes or 4×4 vehicles, horse riding… or riding the longest double zip wire in Europe of almost one kilometre at over 90 kilometres an hour.
Although there are rather few of them, the vías ferratas are vertical or horizontal trails that assist hikers who are not experts in climbing, as they are fitted with safety devices including hanging bridges, chains, spikes, handrails or steel cabling to hook onto and avoid accidents. Designed for those who want to try new experiences, for adventure sports enthusiasts or even for climbers who are somewhat out of practice, they are the best option for returning to your hotel in one piece.
It is not difficult to find them, but it is advisable to get expert help in putting on your harness. In the Huesca area, there are vías ferratas in Boltaña, Escalona, Laspuña and Bielsa.
Much more than a charming hotel
A place like the Aragon Pyrenees deserves a special hotel in which to spend a few days, where you can enjoy the surrounding area as much as the accommodation itself. The Barceló Monasterio de Boltaña is a stately five-star hotel built on the site of a seventeenth-century monastery with a church of the same period.
To sleep in a building like this is a special experience in itself, although the surroundings deserve attention too. On the banks of the River Ara – almost 70 kilometres in length – and with views of the Pyrenees, you can sleep in any of the hotel’s almost 100 guest rooms, or in the 40 villas designed especially with family groups in mind.
If you are ready to discover Boltaña and the surrounding area, to climb vertical walls or to try canyoning in a group, you will almost certainly need rest and good food. Well, you are in the ideal place to have both, to build up the energy you will need.
You will find the care your body is crying out for in the hotel’s spa, where you can choose between an Ara water circuit, a hydrotherapy treatment, bubble oxygenation beds or aromatherapy treatments. Of course, you are not obliged to choose just one, so you can treat yourself to all these therapies if you wish. If you are travelling with children, they need their relaxation time too, so the hotel also has a children’s spa.