Alcañiz – the capital of the Lower Aragon historical region

Alcañiz is a town and municipality of Teruel province in the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. The town is located on the banks of the river Guadalope. Alcañiz is the unofficial capital of the Lower Aragon historical region.

There is the MotorLand Aragón speed circuit in the municipality.

Tourism and main attractions

The main evidence of medieval Alcañiz is the castle itself, seat of the largest commission of the Order of Calatrava in the Crown of Aragon, with its magnificent set of Gothic frescoes.

The great Gothic bell tower of the church of Santa María la Mayor, a temple that was the seat on several occasions of the Cortes of Aragon and, singularly, of the Parliament of Alcañiz prior to the Compromise of Caspe (1412).

The Lonja, located in the Plaza Mayor (15th century), with a set of Gothic panels (attributed to Domingo Ram) and a set of Gothic frescoes.

The symbol of the city is its beautiful town hall (1565-1570), built on its main square, forming a corner with the Lonja. Both buildings were declared a historical monument in 1931.

The town hall is a magnificent example of classicism. It reminds about Alcañiz’s great circle of humanists: Juan Sobrarias, Juan Lorenzo Palmireno, Bernardino Gómez Miedes, Domingo Andrés, Pedro Ruiz de Moros and Andrés Vives y Altafulla, to name the most outstanding.

The 16th century also leaves its mark on the castle itself —with the alabaster tomb of Commander Juan de Lanuza, made by Damián Forment in 1537.

Also great examples of 17th century architecture are the church of Santo Domingo, where the Gothic tradition and the new renaissance meet, as well as a large number of palace buildings.

There are many monumental Baroque buildings: the church of Santa María la Mayor (former collegiate school, renovated in the 18th century), the Iglesia del Carmen (BIC, 17th century), the church of San Francisco (18th century), the church of Escolapios (18th century), the Comendadores’ palace (built in the southern part of the old castle) that today houses the Parador de Turismo, and so on.

The great Alcañizana artistic figure of the 19th century was Tomás Llovet, sculptor and director for several decades of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Luis de Zaragoza and author of several altarpieces of Santa María la Mayor.

Alcañiz preserves many other interesting constructions: the hermitage of Santa Bárbara (the result of several construction stages), the hermitage of La Encarnación (rebuilt in 1860), the hermitage of San Miguel (possibly built in the 16th century on a building above), the hermitage of San Pascual (1879), the hermitage of the Virgen de la Peña (17th-19th centuries), the old church of the Capuchin convent (reform of the 19th century on the work of the 17th century), the chapel of San José and numerous chapels scattered through its streets.

In addition, the city has an important number of palatial houses, which for the most part follow the typology of the Aragonese palace of the “late-renaissance”. This type of building began to be used at the end of the 16th century and survived until the 18th century.

Most of these houses are located on Calle Mayor, in the Almudines neighborhood and on Calle Santa Pau (formerly Calle de los Clérigos). This group would include the Ardid palace and the house located on Calle Santa Pau (current headquarters of the public library and municipal archive), the Maynar house (headquarters of the Lower Aragón region), the “Calandetas” house (associated with the Inquisition), etc.

Several examples of modernist architecture are also interesting (such as the houses located on Paseo Andrade and the Taboada house), the remains of its old walled enclosure (towers, fragments of canvases on the wall and the Loreto portal) and various hydraulic waterworks (such as the Molino Mayor and the Río Alto with its 72 pipes).

A few kilometers from the city, the magnificent Levantine cave paintings of Val del Charco del Agua Amarga, a set declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, are preserved, along with the rest of the cave art paintings of the Mediterranean arch of the Iberian Peninsula.

Best restaurants

There is one Michelin list restaurant in the city:

Meseguer, Avenida del Maestrazgo 9, 16 – 50 EUR • Traditional Cuisine

How to get to?

From Teruel 1 hr 50 min (145 km) via N-420 and N-211/N-420

From Zaragoza 1 hr 25 min (105 km) via N-232

From Madrid 4 hr 35 min (422 km) via A-2

Main information

Area: 472 sq. km

GPS coordinates: 41°03′01″N 0°07′59″W

Language: Spanish, Catalan

Population: 16006

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1, in summer +2

Read more: The cities of the Pyrenees and around with Andrew Morato ...