HISTORY OF THE SIERRA DE GUARA
This zone of high Aragon holds its name from the Tozal de Guara, the top which dominates this area at 2077m. The history of the Sierra de Guara is very old, more than 20.000 years, as testified with cave paintings dating from the Palaeolithic Superior and other monuments Megalithic such as Dolmens. More recently, there is several remainders of the Arab conquest or the medieval period with hermitages, churches and the landscapes modelled by the man; they are evidence of a human occupation which has never ceased in the area.
Art and Architecture in Sierra de Guara
Rich in past and recent art, you will discover these works by trotting in the villages of Sierra of Guara and their neighbourhoods. For example, you will find Roman’s vestiges (XI to the XIII century) like the Parish of San Andrés in the abandoned village of Nasarre, the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Castillo near Rodellar, the church of San Nicolás de Bari in Alberuela de Laliena, the hermit of Treviño in Adahuesca or the famous Colegiata which dominate Alquezar.First Gotique art, from the XIII century, is represented by paintings in the hermit San Fructuoso in Bierge, in the parish El Tormillo, and at the architectural level with the Tower of Berbegal. We will find Gothique works dating from the XVI century in the Colegiata of Alquezar and Abiego. The time of the Rebirth will appear especially in the decoration of older works. The Baroque art is present mainly in the monuments in the town of Barbastro. Lastly, Recent Art Works could be admired with the sanctuary of Torreciudad or in Abiego with the monument dedicated to the XXème century.
As architecture testifies it in many villages of Sierra of Guara, the houses were built with the stones and other materials of the zone stressing the harmony between the men and its territory. You will find very beautiful examples of traditional urban spaces well preserved in the villages of Las Almunias, Rodellar, Alquezar or Yaso. In the same way, there are very beautiful relics of thisarchitectural history along the old transportation routes inter village such walls surrounding the ways to Cheto, near Rodellar or near Las Almunias, Mediterranean terraces (Las Almunias, Bierge) or old bridges to cross the rivers like the ones in Pedruel or in the Mascun Inferior.
Recent history of the Sierra de Guara and the birth of canyoning
From the beginning to the middle of the XX century in the recent history of Sierra de Guara, the area is particularly touched by the rural migration. As a proof, there is today several abandoned villages (Nasarre, Otin, Cheto etc.) despite the vitality back thanks to the tourism. In the past, the traditional economy was mainly agricultural with the breeding of goat and sheep and a food agriculture. We find still today some flocks of sheep (Las Almunias, Rodellar, Bierge, Yaso) but the agricultural activity is now secondary. The principal cultures are the cereals, the vine (with the famous wine of Somontano), olive and almond harvests. You will see splendid fields of almond trees and Olive trees around Bierge.
Despite several photo reports of Lucien Briet at the XIX century in Sierra de Guara, the area will remain during decades, folded up on itself and a forgotten world.
It is only in the 1960’s that Spanish and French speleologists will return in the area; among them the author of the first guide done upon the Sierra de Guara, Pierre Minvielle.
Later, at the end of the Seventies, guides impassioned of mountains will cross the Pyrenees and fall in love with the Sierra de Guara (see History of Expediciones). This time could be considered like the Birth of this popular activity, the canyoning.
This passion always stronger for the canyons in Sierra de Guara saved this area, almost abandoned in the 80′ s, it gave it a new youth with the development of Tourism and activities of Adventure. In parallel, its situation geographically isolated and the various actions for nature conservation made possible to keep the natural and authentic character of Sierra de Guara.