The Aran Valley in winter does not only mean snow, skiing, and sports. The valley hides one of the most precious architectural treasures of the Pyrenees.
Just a few kilometres from the Hotel MIM Baqueira, you can enjoy the lovely ROUTE OF BEAUTIFUL ROMANESQUE CHURCHES, built between the 12th and 13th centuries, perfectly maintained throughout time, which are notable for their architecture, frescoes, and wood carvings. A total of 33 of the villages in the Aran Valley have their own Romanesque treasures, but we recommend a tour of the five that, for us, are the most characteristic.
Departing from the hotel in the direction of Vielha, you will stop in Salardú, Unha, Arties, Bossost and Vielha.
In Salardú, you will visit Sant Andreu de Salardú;, dating back to the 13th century, with murals from the 17th century and the Christ of Salardú, from the 12th century, carved in the same village.
A few minutes from here, you will find a detour on the right side of the road. This will take you to the little village of Unha, Santa Eulalia de Unha, a beautiful church where paintings and frescoes with what was the Christ Pantocrator still remain along with a bell tower that was added later in the 18th century. In Unha, you can also visit the Snow Museum.
Back on the main road, in the lovely village of Arties, you will find the beautiful church of Santa Maria de Arties, which has been declared a national monument. It is certainly worth getting lost in the narrow streets of this village.
You continue your journey a few kilometres past Arties, passing Vielha, and continuing along the N-230 towards France. You will reach Bossost, Era Mair de Diu dera Purificación, which is one of the best examples of Aranese Romanesque architecture. In addition, it is the only town in the Aran Valley that still maintains their traditional Easter processions.
On your way back to the hotel, you will stop in Vielha, the capital of Aran, where, apart from walking around its historical centre and visiting its shops, you will find, right in the middle of the village, Sant Miqueu de Vielha, an example of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic, completed in the 13th century.
No matter which village you are in at lunchtime, you cannot pass up the opportunity to try the most characteristic dish of the Aran Valley, the OLLA ARANESA, one of the oldest documented soup dishes in Europe. It is impossible to choose only one restaurant, as this forms part of Aranese heritage. So, we will share the recipe with you:
Beef and ham bones, pork spine, 1/4 kg chicken, 1/4 kg pork, 100 g. beef, oxtail, or duck (optional), carrots and cabbage, chickpeas and white beans, 1 small cup of rice, noodles (not too thick), black pudding, 1 egg, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, and breadcrumbs.
Mix the beef and pork, previously minced, in a bowl. Add the egg, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, and finally the breadcrumbs. Use a fork to work the mixture into a smooth ball. Sprinkle with flour until the meatball is completely covered. In a frying pan containing hot oil, brown the meatball and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare a broth with the remaining meat. When it begins to boil, add the meatball and allow it to cook for approximately two hours. After that, add the vegetables and beans (pre-cooked) and let this cook for another hour. Add the noodles, rice, and black pudding, adjusting the salt level. After about 20 minutes, the olla will be ready. The longer it is allowed to stand, the better it will taste. The meat is served on a platter to accompany the Olla Aranesa.