The Ansó Valley

Ansó is set along the banks of the River Veral and is the most westerly valley of the Aragonese Pyrenees. The valley´s wild landscape, its culture, history and customs make this territory genuinely unique. The beautiful village with its traditional architecture is crowned by the majestic parish church of San Pedro. View of Ansó.

In the background: Segarra 1994 m.

Since time immemorial Ansó has been one of Aragon´s great mountain valleys. The valley was the one of the first to form part of the condado and later kingdom of Aragón 1200 years ago. As a result Ansó and its valley have always held special privileges. The Ansó valley is the most westerly in the Aragonese Pyrenees with its territory bordering with Zaragoza province to the South, the Roncal Valley to the West, the Hecho Valley to the East and, to the North, 57 km of border with France. Along the border are peaks such as La Mesa de Los Tres Reyes and Petrechema as well as the beautiful landscapes of Linza and Zuriza. To the east Acherito, Agua Tuerta and Guarrinza are stunning valleys crowned with two beautiful ibones (mountain lakes).

Ansó has been declared a conjunto histórico (village of outstanding cultural importance) because of its amazing houses and the 16th Century church of San Pedro built in a Gothic-Renaissance style. The traditional Ansó houses are characterised by their great size, built with thick stone walls and with grandiose, arched doorways. The houses have balconies full of plants and flowers. Ansó is well known historically for its treaties and agreements (facerias) made in the past with the neighbouring Roncal Valley and with Bearn in France.

The Economy of the Ansó Valley

The Valley economy has traditionally been based on sheep farming and forestry on Ansó´s vast area of communally owned mountain pastures and forests. Nowadays forestry has declined while tourism has become a vital part of the economy. The valleys unique and untouched landscapes and the beautiful village architecture are real attractions for the visitor.

Flora and Fauna

Due to the valley´s varied habitats (height, orientation and soil variety) there are more tan 700 medicinal plant species including the endemics: Aconitum variegatum sbsp. pyrenaicum, Androsace hirtella, Lathyrus vivantii, Petrocoptis hispánica, Saxifraga hariotii, Thalictrum macrocarpum y Valeriana longiflora subsp. longiflora. Areas of special botanical interest include: The Biniés, Fago and Boca del Infierno gorges and the Ibones (glacial lakes) of Acherito, Estanés and Tortiellas. The screes and cliffs of Peak Bisaurin, Castillo de Acher and Aguas Tuertas are outstanding. The alpine and sub alpine pastures are a botanists paradise while the forests –, deciduous and evergreen oak forests and, higher up Beech/Silver Fir and Mountain Pine forests are wonderful habitats.

The areas´fauna is varied and abundant with the following species being particularly noteworthy:

INVERTEBRATES

Endemic invertebrates include the Plebejus pyrenaica and Erebia gorgone butterflies. While among the coleoptera Agonum cyaneus, Cechenus pyreaneus, Haptoderus lesourdi, Pelor obesus, Pterostichus dufouri andTrechus distinctus are characteristic of the area.

AMPHIBIANS

There are 23 amphibian species in Ansó´s territory, most notably the Pyrenean Triton (Euproctus asper) and the Pyrenean BrownFrog (Rana pyrenaica). There are 21 different reptile species with the Pyrenean Lizard (Lacerta bonnali) being the only endemic.

BIRDS

There are 179 bird species and the area has been declared a zone of special ornithological interest ZEPA. Some of the birding highlights are Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus) a species in danger of extinction, White Backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), Red Kite (Milvus milvus), Pallid Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and Crane (Grus grus). These are all species declared sensitive to habitat change (Decree 49/1995 DGA).

MAMMALS

Among the area´s wild mammals the Pyrenean Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) is the most spectacular and is in danger of extinction. Also the Otter (Lutra lutra) and Cabrera´s Vole (Microtus cabrerae) are catalogued as species sensitive to habitat change.

 
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