Teruel in Aragon is one of Spain's smallest regional capitals but is full of exceptional Mudéjar architecture that has been recognised by UNESCO - and the province is also one of the best areas in the Iberian Peninsula for finding dinosaurs remains and fossils.
Set amidst mountains in the province from which it takes its name, Teruel, is one of the best places in Spain to see Mudéjar architecture left by the Moors who stayed in Spain and converted to Christianity. Dating from the 12th to the 16th century, Mudéjar architecture merges both Christian and Islamic architectural traditions. 4 of the religious monuments in the city belong to the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon, a group of buildings that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, those who lived in the area millenia before the Mudéjar have also left their mark and the Teruel province has various areas where dinosaur skeletons and fossils have been found, including the largest dinosaur discovered in Europe - the turiasaurus riodevensis which is on display at the Dinópolis park on the outskirts of the city. The city also has a romantic nature and is known for the story of Los Amantes de Teruel, the lovers of Teruel.
The tragic story of the lovers, Diego de Marcilla and Isabel de Segura, can be discovered at the Mausoleo de los Amantes - a museum dedicated to their story which has influenced many poets and artists, and features their beautiful marble tomb sculpted by Juan de Avalos. The lovers were originally buried in a chapel of the Church of San Pedro, which 13th century tower is the oldest in Teruel. The church is also one of the UNESCO protected monuments of Aragon and has a 7-sided apse decorated with jutting brickwork and beautiful manganese green and white ceramics. The Church of El Salvador and the Church of San Martín, with their Gothic-Mudéjar towers, and the Catedral de Santa Maria, with its beautiful tower, wonderful roof art in its interior and a spectacular wood carved altarpiece, make up the rest of the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon in Teruel.
The natural landscape around Teruel is an attraction in itself and is covered with fascinating caves, some filled with incredible cave paintings and several parts of the landscape are counted as a Special Geological Interest Site by UNESCO. The prevalence of dinoaur discoveries is also a huge draw to paleontology fans. Dinópolis, a theme park based around paleontology makes the history of the dinosaurs in Teruel accessible to all with a 3D cinema, 4D simulator, and a robotic T-Rex, woolly mammoths and primitive man. Take a boat trip and meet them all on a journey through the last 65 million years. The park also has a museum with over 500 great exhibits including the bones of the turiasaurus riodevensis, which was discovered locally, and life-size skeletons of a brachiosaurus and a T-Rex.
Like many Spanish cities, Teruel celebrates several fiestas throughout the year. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a large celebration with fantastic processions through the city streets. Las Bodas de Isabel de Segura is celebrated in February in honour of the story of the lovers of Teruel. The city comes to life as it might have looked in medieval times with a medieval market, games and food, and everyone in the town dressed in costume. The tragedy of the lovers is played out in the city - the promises given by Diego to fight the Moors and become wealthy enough to marry Isabel, her marriage to another man when Diego does not return after the 5 years he said he would be away, and the tragedy of their deaths on his return when they cannot be together - all making this a festival not to be missed by romantics.
A visit to Teruel is not complete without trying the cured ham for which the city is known - Jamón de Teruel. Other local products include olive oil from Bajo, Aragonese lamb, black truffles and Jiloca saffron. Teruel has some delicious breads, particularly cañada, an oval-shaped bread less than 6cm thick that has a wonderful golden sheen from the olive oil applied before it is baked, and pintera, a round bun covered in a honeycomb design that has a thin and crispy crust. The area also has many cheeses to try made from goat's, sheep's or cow's milk. Enjoy your meal, of course with a glass or two of an Aragonese appellation of wine where reds are popular. Local geographical areas in the Teruel province include Bajo and Jiloca, producers of Vinos de la Tierra.
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