In a corner nestled between high mountains, north of the province of Huesca and south of the border with France, the natural beauty of Benasque Valley. This enclave in the Ribagorza region, in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees, is a perfect destination for those looking for nature, disconnection and good gastronomy.

Starting with their picturesque villages, like Benasque or Anciles, a getaway to the valley is synonymous with rural tourism, to which high-level culinary experiences are added. And for the pairing you don’t have to go far from there, thanks to the Somontano region of Barbastro and its Denomination of Origin with high quality wines.

Historical essence in the town of Benasque

The heart of the Benasque Valley, in the Ribagorza region, is the town that gives it its name. Its first documentary mention dates back to the 10th century and, although the origins of this town are not entirely clear, what is evident is that its historical essence has survived to this day to give its visitors an authentic journey through time. Its strategic importance also left its mark on its evolution, with a great peak in the 16th and 18th centuries thanks to its great trade relationship with France and the promotion of livestock farming as the main economic activity.

Benasque town
Benasque town

That living history can be enjoyed in its streets next to the Esera River, walking between large mansions by whose names their inhabitants are still called. The conflict in the area, triggered by banditry and war in the former county of Ribagorza, resulted in a very specific type of construction: the turreted house. At its peak, several towers stood on the horizon of Benasque, although today only the one of Yuste House. This emblematic building was built in 1567, with a crenellated tower that reaches 18 meters high.

La Larri Plains.

The route to a spectacular landscape of Huesca: a meadow surrounded by waterfalls and mountains

The Regatillo House, or the Palace of the Counts of Ribagorza, is another of the most iconic buildings in the town. It dates back to 1560 and surprises us with its Italian Renaissance style façade and its shields with the rampant lion that decorate its façade. And the visit does not end here since walking through the town we can admire many other historical buildings such as Casa Faure, Casa Bringasòrt or Casa Berot, without forgetting the medieval bridge (rebuilt in 2005 after a strong flood) and the St. Mary’s Churchwith an eclectic design due to its multiple renovations.

Anciles and its award-winning gastronomy

With an architecture that has remained practically unchanged over time, we find the small town of Anciles. The town, with less than 200 inhabitants, offers its main attraction its traditional houses, such as Casa Barrau, Casa Sastre or Casa Supriàn; but there is another factor that inspires us to travel to this corner of the Benasque Valley: the gastronomy.

Donete of pigeon in spruce pickle at the Ansils Restaurant.
Donete of pigeon in spruce pickle at the Ansils restaurant.

Behind a traditional stone façade hides the Ansils restaurantbased on the traditional cuisine with an avant-garde vision. With fresh products from the garden, the field, the game and the river, the menu offers such delicious options as the fallow deer steak tartare or the grilled bone marrow. You can also opt for the tasting menu, with 21 courses that recover local recipes and traditional flavors. One of their star dishes is dove pickle in fir picklerecently awarded Best Tapa in Spain at Madrid Fusión 2024.

This is not the only award that has been awarded to this restaurant and its team at the gastronomic congress since the chef, Iris Jordan, has achieved third place in the Best New Chef category in Spain. Together with his brother, the head waiter and sommelier Bruno Jordanhave more than managed to value traditional gastronomy, sustainability and the reuse of food.

Wine tourism at SOMMOS

Continuing along the gastronomic line, we enter the world of wine with the help of the SOMMOS Winery, located in the city of Barbastro. In this building with an air of Frank Gehry, a quality wine is made under the DO Somontano, with 355 hectares of vineyards, small and aromatic grapes and attention to every detail to obtain an always optimal result.

Sommos Winery
Sommos Winery

“We were the last to arrive, but I think we are the pioneers in exploiting the Somontano as we are doing, that desert and that mountain that surrounds it,” he tells 20 minutes José Javier Echandi, the winery’s winemaker. At SOMMOS they have dedicated a lot of time to studying the soils, the climate, the altitudes… to exploit all their benefits in the production of wines.

Thus, the winery cultivates red varieties (Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Red Grenache, Moristel, Parraleta and Pinot Noir) and whites (Chardonnay, Riesling, White Grenache and Gewürztraminer), resulting in very different wines among them, with flavors and aromas that range from freshness to mineral tones, from sweet to citrus notes.

Wine tasting at the Sommos Winery.
Wine tasting at the Sommos Winery.

The wine tourism experience in the winery is not limited to the wine tasting (always accompanied by cold cuts and cheeses) but a wide variety of activities are offered. For example, we can do electric bike tours through the vineyards. But those looking for a little more adventure will also be able to get off the ground with the new experience that they have just added to the catalogue: a paramotor flight to admire from above the avant-garde building andThe different vine growing areas.

View of Barbastro (Huesca)

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On the other hand, we can complete the visit to SOMMOS with a walk through Barbastro and its enormous heritage wealth. From the Cathedral of the Assumption to the Diocesan Museum, passing through the Market Square and the churches of San Francisco and the Piarist Fathers, the city of Huesca offers us an exciting walk through history and traditional architecture.

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