Monday, 29 July 2013

The Pyrenees - Torla

Torla is a tiny little place with a population of just over 300 people in the Aragon Province, in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. It borders France but there is no road connecting with it. The reason for its importance is that this is the gateway to Ordesa Valley which belongs to the National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido.

Its name derives from the word ´tower´ as there was an important fortress here to defend the valley from the French incursions. Today instead of the fortress on the highest point of the village stands a lovely Romanesque church. Its silhouette is iconic and can be seen from far away.

As it is common in Aragon, the houses are made of slate as some of the surrounding mountains are slate mountains. The streets are short and narrow and a walk through them feels like stepping into the purest medieval place. Most of the buildings are from the 13th – 14th century.

Another notable point in Torla in the stone buildings is the characteristic chimneys, the chamineras or chimeneras.  I guess the physical function of covering of the openings might be to stop heavy rain or snow from getting in. Their more important function is to scare away the witches! Apparently they were purposely built for this and in other parts of Aragón often there´s even a cross on top.

On the weekend we were there they had a market weekend.

In the stalls amongst all the usual market stuff I found some interesting things. For example these traditional wineskins which are basically water bladders.

On the cheese stall we noted a green cheese! It had an awesome, bright green colour.

These pastries were so mouthwatering to look at!

They even sold beer that was made in the Pyrenees with some bits of very nice chorizo.

As part of the market day there was a little square where lots of birds of prey were displayed tethered to the ground. There were many of them, eagles, owls, even a vulture and baby eagles in a basket.

It was amazing and at the same time horrible to look at these birds. This was obviously not the right way to keep them, to carry them around and display these majestic hunting animals. This however is probably the only way I can have a look at them close up. 

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