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The town of Albarracín in Spain’s Aragon region is best known as one of the top climbing and bouldering destinations in the country. The Sierra de Albarracín Mountain Range that surrounds the town attracts visitors from Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia wanting to experience the famed sandstone bouldering paradise.
But what most people don’t realise is that there’s far more to Albarracín than simply a base for the region’s many climbing routes. In fact, it’s completely possible to visit the town without chalk or a cash pad in tow…
Albarracin is named after the Berber dynasty of the Banu Razin who settled in the town around the 9th century and established it as the capital of a Moorish kingdom (or Taifa). After several hundred years of Muslim rule, the town was conquered by the King of Aragon and it fell under Roman Catholic rule from the 12th century onwards.
Nestled amongst lush greenery on a meander of the Guadalaviar River, the unique mix of historic architecture that remains almost untouched in Albarracín today often sees it voted as one of the most beautiful towns in all of Spain.
Important Things To Know When Visiting Albarracin
- The ancient town is set on a hilltop and exploring requires navigating many uneven cobblestone streets and steep staircases. Make sure that you wear comfortable walking shoes
- Siesta time is taken seriously and most attractions and museums shut between 13:00 and 16:00 each day
- Attractions are often shut for public events or religious holidays so check the calendar before your visit
- The town is very small and most of the historic centre is pedestrianised so you won’t need to use your car once you’ve arrived
- Albarracin is located in the mountains and can get very cold at night. Even if it’s warm and sunny during the day, be sure to bring layers to put on if you’re walking around in the evenings
See Albarracín from Every Vantage Point
Albarracín is a town that is just as captivating from a distance as it is from close up. Maybe even more so.
The uneven rows of houses and unusual hanging balconies help the town blend seamlessly into the cliffside on which it sits, while the pink-hued Medieval buildings and colourful domed towers provide a stark contrast to the surrounding greenery. The sight of Albarracín from afar is one not to be missed.
Head down to the Oficina Comarcal de Turismo de la Sierra de Albarracín (the tourism office) on Carrer de San Antonio for one of the best views of the town from below.
Other great views of Albarracín can be found from the Torre de Doña Blanca (the white tower), the top of the Medieval Walls, and the pathway along the Guadalaviar River.
Once inside the town itself, don’t miss the large viewing platform directly in front of the Cathedral, or the balcony of Plaza Mayor de Albarracín, for more spectacular views.
Get Lost Wandering Down the Narrow Medieval Streets
For a relatively small town, it’s all too easy to get lost wandering around the winding Medieval streets of Albarracín. After three days I still had no idea where I was going. But this is part of the town’s charm.
Let yourself wander down narrow alleyways and under historic stone arches. Find yourself stumbling across charming courtyards, little garden squares, and breathtaking vantage points. Turn a corner in Albarracín and you never know what you’ll find next.
Climb Up To The Fortress Walls
As you take in the town from any vantage point, it’s almost impossible to miss the towering Murallas de Albarracín (Medieval walls) and Torre del Andador sitting high above the pink sandstone rooftops.
Torre del Andador (Andador Tower) is the highest point in all of Albarracín. The stone tower was built in the 10th-century as a defensive outpost for the Muslim town. A century later, the Medieval walls leading up to the tower were added as the town began to expand.
Climbing up to the Medieval fortress walls is an absolute must while visiting Albarracín. Starting on Carrer Subida de las Torres, the short (around 10 minutes) but steep uphill walk along a small gravel pathway rewards you with stunning panoramic views over the town and the lush natural landscapes that surround it.
Head Inside Albarracín Cathedral
Catedral del Salvador is Albaraccín’s Roman Catholic cathedral and the most important historic building in the town.
Built in a Románico-Mudéjar style (think Gothic and Renaissance) in the 16th-century, then renovated in a Baroque style in the 18th-century, the impressive cathedral has recently undergone two centuries of extensive restorations to return it to its original splendour.
The golden altarpiece in the main chapel depicts the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor and is one of the most important pieces of Aragonese Renaissance art.
Important Things to Know About Visiting Albaraccín Cathedral:
- Address: Plaza la Seo 1, 44126
- The cathedral can only be visited on a 45 minute guided tour that costs €4 per person
- Tours are run by the Fundación Santa María de Albarracín
- Guided tours run daily throughout the morning and late afternoon (there’s a break for siesta between 13:00 and 16:00) – check out seasonal tour times here (under ‘Horarios’)
- You can pick up tickets from the Centro de Información in the Palacio Episcopal next to the cathedral
- Tours start from the large viewpoint on Calle Catedral
- Guided tours run in Spanish only. If you don’t speak Spanish (like me) but are keen to see the cathedral, you still need to take a tour. Once inside, you can wander around and take photos on your own
See Rare Religious Artwork in the Diocesan Museum
Adjacent to the cathedral, the Diocesan Museum is located in the original noble rooms of the grand Episcopal Palace. A walk around the 18th-century palace gives a glimpse into the diocesan way of life at the time (the period when a bishop was appointed to Albarracín to oversee the town).
Today, the palace rooms contain many unique and rare pieces of religious artwork from around the world, including a collection of Flemish tapestries from the 16th century and an unusual rock crystal fish.
Important Things to Know About Visiting the Diocesan Museum:
- Address: Calle Catedral, 16, 44126
- Entry to the museum costs €3.50
- During the peak season, the museum is usually open between 16:00 and 19:00 daily, as well as 10:30 to 13:00 on weekends – check out seasonal opening times here (under ‘Horarios’)
- You can pick up tickets from the Centro de Información in the stables of the Palacio Episcopal next door
Explore the Moorish Castle Ruins
Sat on a rugged clifftop in the heart of the town’s old Muslim quarter, Castillo Musulmán De Albarracín is the ruins of an alcázar (Moorish castle) dating back to the 9th century when the town was under Islamic rule.
Many of the artefacts discovered during excavations of the castle can now be found in the Museo de Albarracín. However, on a visit to the castle itself, you can explore the well-preserved ruins of the ancient fortifications, palace houses, Hammans (Arab baths), courtyards and more.
Plus, there are great views over the town from the castle’s strategic clifftop position.
Important Things to Know About Visiting Albaraccín Castle:
- Address: Calle San Juan 12E, 44126
- The castle can only be visited on an hour long guided tour that costs €3.50 per person
- Tours are run by the Fundación Santa María de Albarracín
- During peak seasons, tours run daily at 13:00
- Tours of the castle start from Museo de Albarracín
- During off-peak seasons, set tours only run on weekends, but you can still book weekday tours by asking at the Centro de Información in the Palacio Episcopal next to the cathedral
- Guided tours run in Spanish only
Learn About The Town’s History at Museo de Albarracín
Set inside a former 18th-century hospital and post Spanish civil-war prison, the Museo de Albarracín is a local museum tracing the long and fascinating history of the town.
Exhibits date back to Medieval times, with valuable pieces from the towns past under Islamic and Christian rule. Many artefacts were discovered during the archaeological excavation of the Moorish castle, most notably an 11th-century ceramics collection.
Important Things to Know About Visiting Museo de Albarracín:
- Address: Calle San Juan 18, 44100
- Entry to the museum costs €3.50
- The museum is open mornings between 10:30 and 13:00
- During peak tourist seasons, the museum is open seven days a week
- During off-peak seasons, the museum is only open on weekends, however weekday visits can be organised by asking at the Centro de Información in the Palacio Episcopal
- All of the exhibitions are in Spanish so the museum is only worth visiting if you can speak at least a little Spanish
Step Back in Time at Casa Museo
Pérez y Toyuela Casa Museo is one of the only traditional homes in Albarracin that visitors are welcome to step inside. The 17th-century mansion once belonged to a wealthy noble family and features the original layout and architecture, beautiful period furniture and historic oil paintings. Walking around the home gives you a real glimpse into life in Albaraccin during this time.
Don’t forget to head downstairs and see the stables which were dug into the rock below the stately home. A common feature of buildings in the town.
Important Things to Know About Visiting Casa Museo:
- Address: Calle Portal de Molina, 16, 44100
- The House Museum is privately owned so you can’t just turn up and walk inside
- Casa Museo can be visited as part of a 1 1/2 hour walking tour of the town, run in Spanish by Andador Visitas Guiadas Albarracin for just €7.50
- If you don’t speak Spanish, or simply don’t want to do the tour, you can buy a €3 ticket for the museum only and meet the tour group when they arrive (the guide needs to let you inside)
- Tickets can be purchased at Andador Visitas Guiadas Office between the cathedral and Plaza Mayor
Stop for a Drink on Plaza Mayor de Albarracín
If you find yourself getting lost wandering around the town’s maze of winding streets, Plaza Mayor is the place to aim for. Most of the main landmarks and museums are easily accessible from the central square.
The tiny plaza sits in the heart of Albarracín and is home to the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). There are also a couple of small cafes with outdoor seating areas. The plaza is a lovely place to grab a coffee or Cerveza (beer) and watch the world pass by when you need a break from navigating the historic town.
Pass by Casa de las Julienta
Dating back to the 14-century, Casa de las Julienta is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Medieval architecture in the region.
The ancient house was built using plaster and wood, standard materials of the time, with an unusual top-heavy shape that leaves room for the small street below. Like most of the buildings in the town, Casa de las Julienta was built to fit within the irregular cliffside terrain.
Today, the house is a private residence workshop for artists so unfortunately, you can’t go inside. But walking past and snapping a photo of one of the most famous buildings in all of Albarracin is a must.
Take a Walk Along the Guadalaviar River
A stroll along the Guadalaviar River, which flows around the hilltop town like a moat, is a great way to escape into the surrounding nature for a little while. The pleasant waterside walk gives you unique views of the town from below, while also taking you past historic landmarks including a Medieval water mill.
The walking route along the Guadalaviar River is clearly marked with pathways, signposts and a series of wooden bridges. The best place to start the walk is in the small park that sits just below the town, close to the tourism office and the town’s several car parks. The circular walk takes around 45 minutes.
Taste Award-Winning Cheeses at the Albarracín Cheese Shop
Did you know that the Aragon region is known for producing some of the best cheeses in all of Spain? And in particular, the mountainous area encompassing Albarracin is internationally recognised for its award-winning sheep’s cheeses, made using ancient production techniques.
Fortunately for cheese lovers, you can taste plenty of different varieties of Albarracin cheese at Queso Sierra de Albarracin, just on the outskirts of town. The local cheese factory has its own shop, an on-site restaurant serving delicious cheese-based dishes, and even a large guest house so you can stay as close to the cheese as possible.
Make sure you try La Cava de Mía, Albaraccin’s soft sheep’s cheese which matures in a limestone cellar that reproduces the conditions of a natural cave. The local delicacy won gold at the World Cheese Awards in 2018-19.
Don’t have time to visit the cheese factory? Most restaurants in Albarracin serve a cheese platter of locally produced cheeses so you don’t have to miss out.
How to Get to Albarracin
The easiest way to reach Albarracin from wherever you’re coming from is by car.
Driving times to Albarracin from nearby destinations are:
- Teruel to Albarracin: 38km / approx. 35 minutes
- Montanejos to Albarracin: 135km / approx 1 hour 30 minutes
- Zaragoza to Albarracin: 178km / approx. 2 hours
- Valencia to Albarracin: 181km / approx. 2 hours
- Madrid to Albarracin: 281km / approx. 3 hours 30 minutes
If public transport is your only option for travelling to Albarracin, you’ll want to take the train to the nearby city of Teruel then jump in a taxi. A taxi between Teruel and Albarracin will cost around €40-50 each way.
You can also visit Albarracin on some organised day tours, such as:
Where to Stay in Albarracin
Hotel Doña Blanca – An affordable, rustic 3* hotel sitting in between the old and new areas of town. Each room comes with a balcony with stunning views over Albarracin that you won’t get staying within the historic centre itself. The Dońa Blanca is also one of the only hotels in town with free on-site parking.
Hotel 1877 Sensaciones & Spa – A modern and stylish adults-only spa hotel in the town centre with jacuzzis, sauna and communal sun deck.
Hotel Albarracín – A traditional hotel set inside in a beautiful old palace on the edge of the town centre, with large rustic rooms, a swimming pool and an on-site restaurant.
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