Teruel, Aragon, Spain

Teruel is a town in Aragon, eastern Spain, and the capital of Teruel Province. It has a population of 34,240 in 2006 making it one of the least populated province capitals in the country. It is noted for its harsh climate (hot in summer and very cold in winter), its renowned jamón serrano (cured ham), its pottery, its surrounding archaeological sites with some of the oldest dinosaur remains of the Iberian Peninsula, and its famous Fiestas (La vaquilla del ángel during the second weekend of July and “Bodas de Isabel de Segura” around the third weekend of February). Teruel is regarded as the “town of mudéjar” due to numerous buildings designed in this style. All of them are comprised in the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon which is a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Teruel’s remote and mountainous location (it is 915 metres above sea level) and its low population has led to relative isolation within Spain. A campaign group with the slogan Teruel existe (“Teruel exists”) was founded in 1999 to press for greater recognition and investment in the town and the province. Due in part to the campaign, transport connections to Teruel are being greatly improved with the construction of a motorway between Zaragoza and Sagunto, large parts of which are now open. However, Teruel remains the only provincial capital in Spain without a direct railway link to the capital, Madrid.

Main Sights

The beauty of the town’s cultural inheritance, which has some Islamic influence, has been recognised by UNESCO, which includes four churches in the World Heritage Site Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon, notably the town’s ornate cathedral in the Mudéjar style. One of Teruel’s best known monuments is very small statue of a bull on top of a tall column, known as El Torico (“the little bull”). It is located in the main square, Plaza Carlos Castell, more commonly known as the Plaza del Torico in the middle of the town center.

Other sights include:

  • The Gothic church of St. Francis (1391–1492). It has a single nave with chapels covered by a ribbed vault with no crossing.
  • Los Arcos, an aqueduct with two orders of arcade from 1538.
  • San Pedro, a notable mudéjar church (16th century) with a tower similar to that of the cathedral. It includes a mausoleum housing the mummified bodies of Isabel Segura (a rich lady) and Diego de Marcilla (a poor man who battled at Crusades to earn some money with the intention to return to get married with Isabel) whose love ended tragically. This story is known as los amantes de Teruel and has inspired writers (for example Hartzenbusch) and an opera composed by Tomás Bretón.
  • Church of La Merced, with a bell tower in mudéjar style (the upper sector added later in Baroque style).
  • Church of San Salvador (17th century), with one of the most outstanding mudéjar towers. It houses a 14th century wooden sculpture of Christ.
  • Church of San Martín (17th century).
  • Church of San Miguel (12th century), remade in the 17th century in Baroque style.
  • Castillo de Alambes, a 15th century fortification built over the Arabic Alcazar.
  • Torre de San Martín (13th century), in mudéjar style
  • Casa El ToricoCasa Ferrán and Casa La Madrileña, 1910s liberty style houses
  • Palace of the Marquis of Tosos (17th century)

On the outskirts of Teruel is Dinópolis Teruel, a combined theme park and museum centred around dinosaurs. Promoted as a paleontological park, it includes a life-size robotic model of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Dinópolis also owns three other museums in the surrounding area, which display the remains of dinosaurs discovered in the region.. The chimney of Teruel Power Plant belongs to the tallest freestanding structures in Western Europe.

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