And when they weren’t fighting the Moors, they were fighting with neighbouring Navarre. To reach this area you have to be prepared to travel narrow country roads through a mountainous landscape.
The village of Biel sits in thick forest. It was shrouded in rain and appeared deserted, except for two locals having a smoke outside a small taverna. Our cheerful ‘Hola!’ as we passed them received a grunted response.
The theme tune from ‘Deliverance’ started playing quietly in my head as I surveyed the timber walls covered with mounted horns, tusks and heads of various deer and wild boar, their lifelike glassy eyes staring steadily at the scene. The bar tender was as phlegmatic as locals, who had slipped into the taverna observe the excitement…two strangers in town. When we left, they went back outside to have another smoke.
We passed through Uncastillo, Sabada, Sos del Rey Catolico and Castiliscar. Each village was located on a hill, reflecting the turbulent times in which they were built (it has been calculated there was one for every 50 square kilometres).
Towers, fortified walls, narrow stone bridges and cobbled streets combine to create an atmosphere of the past living in the present.