Huesca

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Huesca
Uesca
Municipality
The city of Huesca as seen from the cathedral
The city of Huesca as seen from the cathedral
Flag of Huesca
Flag
Coat of arms of Huesca
Coat of arms
Motto: Gate of the Pyrenees
Huesca is located in Spain
Huesca
Huesca
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 42°8′N 0°25′W / 42.133°N 0.417°W / 42.133; -0.417
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Aragon
Province Huesca
Comarca Hoya de Huesca
Judicial district Huesca
Founded by Iberians
Government
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Body Ayuntamiento de Huesca
 • Mayor Ana Alós López (2011) (PP)
Area
 • Total 161.0 km2 (62.2 sq mi)
Elevation 488 m (1,601 ft)
Population (2010)
 • Total 52,347
 • Density 330/km2 (840/sq mi)
Demonym Oscense
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 22001 - 22006
Dialing code 974
Patron Saints Saint Lawrence
Saint Vincent
Website Official website

Huesca (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈweska]; Aragonese: Uesca) is a city in north-eastern Spain, within the autonomous community of Aragon. It is also the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and the comarca of Hoya de Huesca. In 2009 it had a population of 52,059, almost a quarter of the total population of the province. That makes it one of the least populated provincial capitals in Spain.

Huesca celebrates its main festivities Fiestas de San Lorenzo[1] from 9 to 15 August.

History[edit]

Huesca's pre-Roman Iberian name was Bolskan. It was the capital of the Vescetani, in the north of Hispania Tarraconensis, on the road from Tarraco (modern Tarragona) and Ilerda (modern Lleida) to Caesaraugusta (modern Zaragoza)[2] and fell under Caesaraugusta's jurisdiction. Pliny alone[3] places the Oscenses in Vescitania, a district mentioned nowhere else.[4] The city's name was rendered as Osca, and was a Roman colony, Urbs Victrix Osca, during the Roman Empire. Under the impetus of Quintus Sertorius, the renegade Roman and Iberian hero who made Osca his base, the city minted its own coinage and was the site of a prestigious school founded by Sertorius to educate young Iberians in Latin and Romanitas in general. We learn from Plutarch[5] that it was a large town, and the place where Sertorius died. It is probably the town called Ileoscan (Ἰλεόσκαν) by Strabo, in an apparently corrupt passage.[6] It seems to have possessed silver mines,[7] unless the argentum Oscense here mentioned merely refers to the minted silver of the town.

18th-century Spanish historian Enrique Flórez, however,[8] has pointed out the impossibility of one place supplying such vast quantities of minted silver as we find recorded in ancient writers under the terms argentum Oscense, signatum Oscense; and is of the opinion that "Oscense" in these phrases means "Spanish", being a corruption of "Eus-cara".[9] The fully Romanised city, with its forum in the Cathedral square, was made a municipium by decree of Augustus in 30 BC.

The Bell of Huesca, by José Casado del Alisal.

With the Arab conquest in the late 8th century, the city came to be called Washqah (Arabic: وشقة), falling within the Tagr al-A'la, the Upper March of the Emirate of Córdoba. It was ruled by a local governor appointed from Córdoba, but was repeatedly subject to political turmoil, rebellion and assassination as the Banu Qasi, Banu Amrus and Banu al-Tawil clans, as well as the Arista dynasty of Pamplona, struggled for control, autonomy or independence from the Emirate, later Caliphate. In the mid-10th century, Wasqah was given to the Banu Tujibi, who governed the Upper March from Zaragoza, and it became part of their Taifa of Zaragoza when in 1018 they successfully freed themselves from the disintegrating Caliphate. In 1094 Sancho Ramirez built the nearby Montearagón castle with the intention of laying siege to Wasqah but was killed by a stray arrow as he was reconnoitring the city's walls. It was conquered in 1096 by Peter I of Aragon.

In 1354, King Peter IV of Aragon chartered the University of Huesca, which initially had a faculty of theology. The school expanded, but by the end of the 16th century was eclipsed by the University of Zaragoza.[10] The university was abolished in 1845.[11]

During the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) the "Huesca Front" was the scene of some of the worst fighting between the Republicans and Franco's army. The city was besieged by the Republicans, George Orwell among them (see below) but never fell.

Modern Huesca[edit]

El Coso street.

Huesca celebrates its most important annual festival in August: the festival (or fiesta) of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence), a native of Huesca martyred in 268 AD. The anniversary of his martyrdom falls on August 10. The fiesta starts on 9 August and finishes on the 15. Many of the inhabitants dress in green and white for the duration of the fiesta.

San Lorenzo, born in Huesca, was a deacon in Rome and martyred by the Romans, burned on a grille (at least according to legend). Hence the grille is the symbol of San Lorenzo. It can be seen in a number of decorative works in the city.

Huesca is also the birthplace of film director Carlos Saura and his brother Antonio Saura, contemporary artist. There is an international film festival held annually.

The writer Oscar Sipan, winner of several literary prizes, was born in Huesca in 1974. The celebrated illustrator Isidro Ferrer, though born in Madrid, lives in the city.

Geography[edit]

Huesca is located in the northern region of Aragón, in a depression known as Hoya de Huesca to 488 m (1,601.05 ft) above sea level, close to the city is located the Sierra de Guara, with a height of 2,077 m. The geographical coordinates of the city are: 42° 08´ N, 0° 24´ W.

Its municipal area is 161.02 km ² and borders the municipalities of Almudévar, Vicién, Monflorite-Lascasas Tierz, Quicena, Loporzano, Nueno, Igriés, Banastás, Chimillas, Alerre, Barbués and Albero Bajo.

The city lies 71 kilometres (44 mi) from Zaragoza, 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Pamplona, 118 kilometres (73 mi) from Lérida, 380 kilometres (236 mi) from Madrid and 273 kilometres (169 mi) from Barcelona.

Climate[edit]

Huesca has a mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa), with drier summers, and wetter springs and autumns, but with some characteristics of a continental climate, such as more extreme temperatures, as the town lies in a wide basin (the Ebro basin) entirely surrounded by mountains.

The average precipitation is a scanty 550 mm. There is drought in summer. The temperatures are high in summer reaching up to 35 °C (95 °F). In winter the temperatures are low (usually -5 to 8 °C). Frost is common and there is sporadic snowfall.

Climate data for Huesca
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.5
(47.3)
11.5
(52.7)
15
(59)
17.2
(63)
21.2
(70.2)
26.5
(79.7)
30.8
(87.4)
30.2
(86.4)
25.5
(77.9)
19.1
(66.4)
12.9
(55.2)
9.1
(48.4)
19.0
(66.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.9
(40.8)
7.0
(44.6)
9.6
(49.3)
11.4
(52.5)
15.3
(59.5)
19.7
(67.5)
23.4
(74.1)
23.3
(73.9)
19.5
(67.1)
14.3
(57.7)
8.9
(48)
5.6
(42.1)
13.6
(56.5)
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
(34.3)
2.5
(36.5)
4.2
(39.6)
5.7
(42.3)
9.3
(48.7)
12.9
(55.2)
16.1
(61)
16.3
(61.3)
13.5
(56.3)
9.5
(49.1)
4.9
(40.8)
2.1
(35.8)
8.2
(46.8)
Precipitation mm (inches) 39
(1.54)
32
(1.26)
34
(1.34)
53
(2.09)
62
(2.44)
47
(1.85)
20
(0.79)
38
(1.5)
54
(2.13)
54
(2.13)
50
(1.97)
51
(2.01)
535
(21.06)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 6 5 4 6 8 5 3 4 4 6 5 5 62
Mean monthly sunshine hours 131 169 220 245 265 298 339 310 241 197 144 113 2,682
Source: AEMET[12]

Main sights[edit]

Cathedral of Huesca.

A double line of ancient walls can still be seen in present-day Huesca.

Nearby, in the territory of Quicena, are the ruins of the Monastery-Castle of Montearagón.

Churches of Huesca[edit]

  • Huesca Cathedral (Catedral de la Transfiguración del Señor) in Gothic style begun by king James I of Aragon around 1273 on the ruined foundations of the mosque. Work continued until the fifteenth century, creating one of the architectural landmarks of northern Spain. The doorway of 1300-1313 has carvings depicting the Apostles. The interior contains a triple nave and lateral chapels. It includes a magnificent high altar of alabaster carved to represent the Passion, made in 1520-1533 by Damián Forment. The cloister and the bell-tower are from the fifteenth century.
  • Monastery of San Pedro el Viejo, erected between 1100 and 1241, is one of the oldest Romanesque structures in the Peninsula. It was rebuilt in the seventeenth century, but retains its cloister of 1140.
  • Church of St. Lawrence (Iglesia de San Lorenzo), seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Huesca City Hall
  • Iglesia de Santo Domingo, in Baroque style.
  • Iglesia de la Compañía San Vicente (17th century)
  • Ermita de Ntr. Sra. de Salas, Romanesque and Baroque
  • Ermita de Loreto, San Lorenzo's cradle according to tradition.
  • Ermita de San Jorge, in memory of the Battle of Alcoraz
  • Ermita de las Mártires
  • Ermita de Santa Lucía
  • Ermita de Jara, in ruins
  • San Miguel, Romanesque tower
  • Santa María de Foris, in transition Romanesque style
  • Santa Cruz, Seminary, on Romanesque foundations.
  • There are several old monasteries in the immediate neighbourhood. The one in Castle of Montearagón contains in its crypt the tomb of king Alfonso I of Aragon.
  • The institute for secondary education occupies the building formerly belonging to the old university. In one of its vaults is the famous "Bell of Huesca", said to have been constructed from the heads of insurgent nobles who were executed by King Ramiro II of Aragon.

Notable people[edit]

Popular references[edit]

The Casino (Oscense Circle).

Huesca is notable for the saying "Tomorrow we'll have coffee in Huesca", a running joke among militiamen of the Spanish Civil War. In February 1937, George Orwell was stationed near the falangist-held Huesca as a member of the POUM militia. In Homage to Catalonia, Orwell writes about this running joke, originally a naïvely optimistic comment made by one of the Spanish Republican generals:

Months earlier, when Siétamo was taken, the general commanding the Government troops had said gaily: "Tomorrow we'll have coffee in Huesca." It turned out that he was mistaken. There had been bloody attacks, but the town did not fall, and [the phrase] had become a standing joke throughout the army. If I ever go back to Spain I shall make a point of having a cup of coffee in Huesca.

Orwell never did, but the Indian writer Shashi Tharoor fulfilled his wish on his behalf in 1980, and has written about the experience.[13] Huesca is also famous for the legend of the Bell of Huesca.

Twin towns - sister cities[edit]

The following are Sister cities of Huesca:[14]

See also[edit]

Holy week, Huesca.
Tapa El Lince fom Huesca.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fiestassanlorenzo.es
  2. ^ Antonine Itinerary pp. 391, 451.
  3. ^ iii. 3. s. 4.
  4. ^ Pliny, in the Third Book of Naturalis Historia. Translation at penelope.uchicago.edu
  5. ^ Sert. c. 14.
  6. ^ iii. p. 161; v. Friedrich August Ukert, vol. ii. pt. 1. p. 451.
  7. ^ Livy xxxiv. 10, 46, xl. 43.
  8. ^ Med. ii. 520.
  9. ^ Cf. Julius Caesar Commentarii de Bello Civili i. 60; Velleius Paterculus ii. 30; "Euskara", Basque for the Basque language.
  10. ^ Hastings Rashdall,The universities of Europe in the middle ages, Volume 2, Part 1, Oxford, 1895, pp. 92-94.
  11. ^ Hans Hoefe & Andrew Eames, Spain, 2d ed 1993, p. 305.
  12. ^ "Valores Climatológicos Normales. Huesca / Aeropuerto". 
  13. ^ tharoor.in
  14. ^ "Cities twinned with Huesca. Huesca City Hall". Huesca.es. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]