The Alpine region of Alto Gallego (High Gallego) is situated in the north of the Aragonese Pyrenees, and is made up of the two areas of The Tena Valley and Serrablo.
The Tena Valley, which is one of the widest and most spectacular in all the Pyrenees mountain range, is surrounded on all sides by mountains of over 3000 meters high.
Villages of the area are well-preserved examples of traditional, Aragonese Pyrenees architecture. With thick, stone-walled houses, built in historic mountain style, with ancient coats of arms carved on façades, and big beautiful wooden doors.
One really special feature about houses in this area, are the characteristic chimneys. Built purposely in the past to scare away witches.
Legend, ancient tradition and religion helped to form the rich heritage that we see in Aragon today; and the proof is everywhere.
From the Neolithic dolmens of St. Elena in Biescas, the 10th century Romanesque and Mozarabic churches, to medieval stone bridges, ancient caves and lonely, abandoned villages. The list of historic sights in the Aragonese Pyrenees is endless.
Sport in Alto Gallego
Some of the best walking, skiing, and other mountain sports holidays in Spain, and the Pyrenees mountains, can be enjoyed right here, in the Alpine region of the Aragonese Pyrenees, in Alto Gallego.
Panticosa and Formigal are both excellent downhill, and cross-country ski resorts in Alto Gallego.
They both have ski schools, Heli-skiing, snow parks, hotels, spas and top-notch facilities, all with great value for money.
When the seasons change, this area of Aragon turns into a walker’s paradise.
With amazing scenery and tons of well-marked paths for all levels and interests.
One of our favourites is the Old Aragon Kingdom Route, which takes you by some interesting historic sites of the Aragonese Pyrenees mountains. Like the old capital of Aragon, Jaca, and the stunning San Juan de la Peña Monastery. Which, by the way, is located in a protected Natural Reserve and sheltered under an enormous rock.
The Camino de Santiago (Santiago’s way), is one of the most beautiful and renowned trails in the Pyrnenees mountains and in all of Europe.
The Spanish route begins in this part of the Aragonese Pyrenees.
The Aragonese Pyrenees offer all kinds of locations for lovers of outdoor sport to enjoy all through the year. And Alto Gallego is a perfect place to use as your base.
Why not combine sight seeing and sport with some of the more relaxing activities available, such as walking, horseback riding, bird watching, fishing, biking or golf.
And, for those with an appetite for adrenaline, there’s always climbing, canyoning (Barranquismo in Spanish), paragliding, paintball, potholing, bungee-jumping, aerial runway, abseiling, paragliding, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and more.
Or, if you would rather try something a little more in the middle, you can check out some of the Via Ferrata routes special to this area of the Pyrenees mountains.
Via Ferrata is a combination of trekking and rock climbing. It’s basically a route built onto a rock face, and uses systems of cables, steps and ladders to help the climber.
Some good places to take kids:
- The Multiadventure park in Formigal (Skity Area) An indoor and outdoor area with games, playgrounds, ping-pong, bouncy castles, trampolines, tubing, and art workshops.
- Parque Faunístico Lacuniacha (Lacuniacha wildlife park) This place is a mix between a zoo and a theme park, where visitors can walk through a wooded area to see animals of the Pyrenees mountains in their natural environment. Animals here include: Deer, roe, fallow deer, reindeer, Pyrenean ibex, Pyrenean chamois, European bison, Eurasian lynx, wolves, and Przewalski horses.
- The walk takes about 3 hours, and there are other activities, which change depending on the season as well. There is a restaurant and picnic tables for lunch. The park is open all year round.
One of the best International Music Festivals in all the Pyrenees mountains is held here in Alto Gallego. It’s called “Pireneos Sur.”
It takes place every year at the end of July, on a floating stage, on a lake, next to an abandoned village, which is nestled in the mountains of Sallent de Gallego.
The Aragonese Pyrenees are full of wonderful counties and villages to be discovered. Alto Gallego truly does have all the ingredients for a fantastic Pyrenean holiday.
Here’s a list of some of the main villages in Alto Gallego.
Within the Tena Valley, and along the river Gallego, is the charming stone-built town of Biescas.
It’s located 875 meters above an ancient glacial valley, and is known as a center for sports and leisure.
Biescas is a great place to use as a base for trips in this area of the Aragonese Pyrnenees. Including; Ordessa, Jaca, San Juan de la Peña, Formigal and Panticosa.
In the summer, the nearby Bubal Reservoir becomes a haven for all kinds of water sports, there’s even a pebble beach for sunning and swimming, and a golf course too.
In and around Biescas, there are many interesting cultural sights to visit. I would recommend checking out the Neolithic Dolmens, and the special medieval Serrablo and Mozarabic churches of El Salvador and San Pedro.
- San Pedro Church
- El Salvador Church (Serrablo Route)
- Torraza Museum
- Architecture: monumental gates and windows
- Biescas Dolmen
- Coalmen’s cottage
Panticosa is most well known for it’s excellent ski resort and mountain spa.
Located in the Tena Valley, at a height of 1636 meters, this historic spastarted as a favourite for Romans, and later became a luxurious holiday destination for the royalty, rich and influential of Spanish society.
It’s easy to see why they chose this location, as the scenery here is stunning.
The spa is set next to a lake, and the healing waters are fed by 6 mineral mountain springs.
The Aramon Ski Resort is just a five minute gondola ride from the peaceful and traditional stone village of Panticosa.
The resort has 41 Alpine skiing runs, 16 lifts and is well equipped with modern facilities, on-piste and off.
When the snow melts away, this place blossoms into a beautiful spring and summer get-away for all kinds of outdoor sports and fun.
The eight-seater telecabina (cable-car), and Sabocos chair lift, will take you up to the marvellous Pyrenees mountain lakes of Asnos and Sabocos. A perfect place to spend the day for families, walkers, or mountain bikers.
Popular walks in the area include the Hoz de Jaca (from Fradacoz), the “Fauna in the Tena Valley” walk which goes along the river Calarés, or the architectural route to see The Church of Saint Miguel.
Panticosa is also a stop on the Aragonese Pyrenees part of the GR 11 Coast to Coast walking route.
- Balneario Spa
- Mountain lakes of Asnos and Saboco
- Large stone ancestral homes
- 13th century Romanesque church with Gothic-Aragonese altarpiece
- El Pueyo de Jaca- a nearby village worth visiting, on the banks of the Búbal reservoir.
Sabiñanigo is one of the more industrialized towns of the Aragonese Pyrenees area, yet manages to maintain that distinct mountain village charm.
This village is also home to the popular Pirenarium Miniature Theme Park, some interesting museums, medieval churches, and a castle.
The Pyrenean “Pirenarium” park is a re-creation of the Pyrenees mountains in miniature form. Carefully crafted models display all aspects of the Pyrenees down to the last detail. Everything from Mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes, to villages, cathedrals, monasteries, museums, and megalithic monuments.
Don’t miss the “Pirenascope”; an audiovisual presentation which uses special affects allowing visitors to see the tops of the Pyrenees through the eyes of a Bearded Vulture(Quebrantahuesos).
There’s also a photography exhibition and some digital flight simulations, covering the Aragonese Pyrenees, and miniature model workshops for those interested. Plus a game zone for kids, a shopping area, and a huge theme restaurant built to resemble a village. Complete with little streets, trees, balconies and even the main square.
- Pirenarium Theme Park
- The Ángel Orensanz Museum of Serrablo (Pyrenean Art)
- The National Museum of Drawing ‘Castillo de Larrés’(housed in a restored medieval castle, with over 2000 works, including some by Dalí and Pablo Serrano)
- Serrablo Churches
Sallent de Gallego
Sallent de Gallego is the capital of the Tena Valley, and is a wonderful representation of a typical Aragonese Pyrenees village.
It boasts a beautiful Gothic church from the 16th century, a medieval bridgeover the river Gallego, excellent accommodationsand charming local restaurants.
If you’re looking to do some walking trips, mountain or adventure sport, this place works as a great area from which to start off.
Some of the favoured routes are to; Piedrafita Cirque, Picos del infierno (Hell’s Peak), and the Ibón de Anayet (mountain lake).
For the more adventurous, there’s always the Gr 11 Pyrenees mountain route, or the popular hike to the Respomuso lake and mountain refuge.
Sallent de Gallego is also an ideal place to stay if you’re planning a Ski trip to the nearby resort of Formigal, it’s just 5 km up from the town
Sallent de Gallego really comes to life in July when thousands of People flock here for the famous Pireneos Sur – World Music Festival. Held at the end of the month every year, this festival truly stands out for its unique setting.
Its backdrop is the unbelievably beautiful mountain scenery of Sallent de Gallego, with most concerts and shows taking place on a stage which is floating in a lake, and next to a majestic abandoned village called Lanuza.
People of many cultures and countries come together here to enjoy music, take part in exhibitions, workshops, theater, markets and much more.
Established acts play with unknown ones, tradition blends with technology, while ethnology and diversity take center stage. This amazing festival is one of Europe’s best, and definitely not to be missed if you’re in the area in July.
Sallent de Gallego Highlights
- Gothic church (early 16th century)
- Triple Romanesque arch
- Medieval bridge (16th century)
- ‘Mallo Sallentino’(sculpture by Ángel Orensanz)
- Pireneos Sur – World Music Festival
Formigal, with its 137 km of slopes, is Spain’s largest and most modern ski resort. Every level of skier, from beginner to expert, will feel right at home here.
High-capacity lift systems, hands-free lift passes and the latest advances in ski technology and trends, provide unrivalled standards of safety, comfort and convenience.
Known as a lively place, Formigal has lots to offer to all types of visitors, both on and off the slopes.
Excellent night life, exclusive spa facilities, stylish bars, shops and great restaurants can all be found at Formigal.
Not to mention, exceptional amenities and original activities for families too. There’s a ski school, an indoor and outdoor play area, lots of organised games, workshops, parties and babysitting services as well. Plus nearby hotels with connected rooms, and restaurants that provide meals suitable for both children and adults.
The new Terrain park at Formigal has freestyle, snow-biking, snow mobiling, dog-sledding, and bump skiing.
For the thrill-seekers there’s night-skiing, Heli-skiiing, or the Bordercross area which has the tracks and borders of high-speed, competition down-hill skiing.
There are snow-parks specifically made for snowboarders here too. Other winter sports practiced at Formigal include; cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, nordic walking, and tubing.
A winning point for the Formigal resort is its location.
Situated in a traditional mountain village of the Aragonese Pyrenees, yet serviced with every modern amenity, and surrounded by amazing things to see and do. There are wineries for wine tasting and gourmet restaurants for fine dining.
Plus pretty little villages nearby for cultural tourism, sightseeing, ice-skating, walking or climbing.
Other day trips from Formigal could be to the wildlife park of Lacuniacha in Sabiñanigo, or to the nearby special Pyrenees mountain golf course in the village of Latas, designed by the famous Spanish Pro golfer José María Olazábal.
Throughout the year Formigal has something for everyone to enjoy. Outdoor sports for all seasons, breathtaking scenery, amazing nearby villages to visit, top cultural tourism, wine tasting, great local gastronomy, and of course, some of the best skiing in the Pyrenees mountains.
Tramacastilla de Tena
Hidden in the Aragonese Pyrenees, at the foot of the big rock formations of Peña Telera and Peña Blanca, and surrounded by thick, pine-wooded hills, and beautiful oak forests, is the quaint little village of Tramacastilla de Tena.
The narrow streets of this typical Aragonese Pyrenees mountain town are lined with grand ancestral homes, decorated by beautiful balconies, strong stone walls and flower-filled windows.
There’s a small 12th century Romanic church here that’s worth visiting, with an amazing Renaissance altarpiece dedicated to Saint Martin.
If you’re in the Pyrenees mountains in October, you must visit this village during their traditional festival, which is held in the first weekend of October.
The highlight is when the young men of the village take part in the “ronda” (round). They dance their way around all the houses of the village, carrying sticks, reciting rhymes, and enjoying cured ham, bread, and local wine all the way through
Tramacastilla de Tena is a lovely and characteristic village of the Aragonese Pyrenees and of Alto Gallego.
It’s a great place for a peaceful Pyrenees get-away, or to use as a base for doing some walking, skiing, or water sports in the neighbouring Búbal reservoir.