Ainsa, a gem in the Aragon crown

The old town at Ainsa from the Rio Ara


Ainsa is a beautiful old town built next to the Rio Ara up on a hill where it affords visitors splendid views of the surrounding landscape; one which varies from green fields and shallow canyons like something from Luke Skywalker’s home planet in the original Star Wars film, to the western edges of the Aragonian Pyrenees, particularly Pena Montanesa.

The journey from the east along the N260 is probably the most spectacular and takes you along the foot of that particular mountain whose tall, flat walls ominously stand 420 metres high and great birds of prey circle the air about them.

The town, like many other Spanish towns has a duality where the lines between ancient and modern blur indistinguishably. The old quarter sits on the hill, encased in thick stone walls which have by and large stood the test of time and invaders alike. The vistas from the top are spectacular and the mountains create a visual feast for the eyes to savour, while the sadly arid Rio Ara trickles apologetically beside the old fortress town.

Pena Montanesa as seen from Ainsa's old quarter.


Crossing any of the bridges into the central area will bring you to the new town; a jumble of supermarkets, restaurants, clothes shops and sports activity centres which are frequented by equally modern Spaniards. In keeping with just about everywhere in Spain the road markings are confusing and the street lights appear to be random indications of what one should or shouldn’t do.

The juxtaposition of old and new appears seamless an somehow the architects of Aragon have managed to augment the old traditional fortifications with fairly sympathetic buildings which is a pleasure to see as so many towns have forgotten how to design decent structures.

For the leisurely tourist Ainsa probably doesn’t hold much more than a few days worth of attraction whereas the more intrepid or adrenalin seeking visitors could happily spend a week playing in the surrounding wilderness or Rio Ara.

In conclusion, Ainsa won’t appeal to sunseekers and beach cravers but it has enough charm to attract a more subtle crowd of semi-hedonists who prefer their pursuits to be a little quieter and more discerning.

For a visit to Ainsa you’ll probably need a hotel which you can book by clicking here.

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