Huesca has one of the most spectacular settings of any town in Spain. Behind it stands the massive limestone wall of the Pre-Pyrenees, framing the town as you travel north across the Plano de Somontano from the Latin “beneath the mountain”). One of the smallest provincial capitals in Spain, it’s just five minute’s walk from the Renfe station on the outskirts to the old centre, a warren of quiet,unhurried streets. In many ways, Huesca is a typical provisional Spanish town, with its local specialities, customs and pride.

Traditional foods from Huesca

Pollo al chilindrón (chicken with peppers and tomatoes

Glorias de Huesca (egg yolk doughnuty pastries)

Trenza de Almudévar (braided pastry with a nutty and creamy filling)

Huesca in the Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War, the military rebels left the Huesca garrison on 19 July 1936 and swiftly crushed the leftist resistance in the town, while Republican forces moving from east  soon captured most of the surrounding villages, almost encircling but failing to take it in an offensive in October 1936. It proved to be the longest siege of the war, lasting for XXX months. George Orwell who had been fighting with the Marxist militia of the POUM 45km to the south in the Sierra de Alcubierre was transferred here on 15 February 1937. Orwell recalled, the trucks took the men from Alcubierre across “the wintry plain, where the clipped vines were not yet budding and the blades of the winter barley were just poking through the lumpy soil.” Their destination was La Granja farm whose “new trenches” formed part of the Republican lines almost encircling Huesca, just 4km away, which “glittered small and clear like a city of dolls’ houses”. After Republican forces had taken Siétamo, the  overly optimistic Republican official, was that “Tomorrow we’ll have coffee in Huesca”, but despite months of bloody attacks it still had not fallen. Orwell quipped “If I ever go back to Spain I shall make a point of having a cup of coffee in Huesca.”

Ramón Acín

Ramón Acín’s twin 1929 orgami metal bird sculpture, Las Pajaritas, which managed to survive 40 years of Franco dictatorship in corner of the town park, today very much proud symbol of Huesca and its people, created by an Aragonese anarcho-syndicalist artist who abhorred violence.

The Fair (1927-28), by Aragonese anarchist educator, CNT leader, journalist and artist Ramon Acín one of his vibrant paintings of people having a grand old time, full of humanity. Acín was murdered by the Francoist rebels in Huesca on 6 August 1936. A local hero in Huesca today.

Another one by Ramon Acin. Feria de Ayerbe (1921) Museo de Huesca. Aragón’s Federico García Lorca. Murdered 12 days before Lorca also for his huge talent and ideas.

Kati Horna in Huesca

Kati Horna, Banastás Huesca, 1937

The great Hungarian Kati Horna visited the siege of Aragón in early 1937 and took a series of powerful photos of the anarchist Ascaso Division and local inhabitants around the village of Banastás. Her lense was often aimed at the back scene, often focusing on women and children.
The militiaman above has taken off his alpargatas to left to cool his feet.