Aerial view of Albarracín, a medieval town in the mountains

24 hours in Albarracín

This magical medieval experience, hidden in the desert-like plains of Aragón, has to be one of Spain’s best-kept secrets

by Ros Woodham
Words and Photos Ros Woodham

Once the capital of a Moorish kingdom, the small town of Albarracín has preserved all its Islamic and medieval flavour. Perched on top of a mountainous meander of the Guadalaviar River, with its authentic pink-hued buildings, narrow twisting streets and fortified walls, it is one of Spain’s most beautiful towns. 

Albarracín has much to offer, whether your visit is for a day, a weekend or a full week. The surrounding area is a Mecca for climbers and walkers, as well as a hub for activities such as horse riding, mountain biking, canyoning and even shepherding.

It is located in the Spanish region of Aragón, two hours from Valencia and forty minutes from Teruel. With limited public transport, travelling by car is the best way to get to this wonderful town and gives the flexibility to explore the surrounding area with ease.

The haphazardly stacked red clay buildings with ornate doorways, tiny windows and carved wooden balconies not only ooze charm but also create a fascinating maze of perfectly preserved medieval mystery. It’s easy to get lost in the streets of Albarracín, both physically and emotionally.

The region was populated during Roman times, as evidenced by the Roman aqueduct which runs 18 kilometres from Albarracín to Cella. However, the town as it exists today began as a Moorish settlement in the early 11th century. Over a hundred years later it fell to Christian rule and eventually became part of the Kingdom of Aragón in 1284. 

More recently, local authorities have committed to resurrecting it from near abandonment when it was left in ruins after the Spanish Civil War. Crumbling homes were rebuilt according to centuries-old traditions, and the damaged cathedral was painstakingly rebuilt. This major investment was a big risk, but one which has paid off as tourism is now the town’s main industry.

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  • ‘24 hours in Albarracín’ is published in Anthology Volume 17. Read more features from this volume or buy it now.
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