Arties in the Pyranees

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Oct 032012

Yes we are really in the Pyranees. I thought the entire range of mountains across northern Spain was the Pyranees, For those of us geographically deprived, it is only the range between Spain and France so named. The others are quite beautiful but today’s have been spectacular and with very little opportunity to pull off the narrow winding roads to capture their grandure.

Today’s highpoint was a visit to the Vall de Boi or Boi Valley, an isolated almost inaccessible farming and herding series of small villages established in the 9th century. Initially they were founded under French control. By the 11th or 12th century each of the 8 or so villages had built a small Romaneque style church adhering closely to those found in Lombardy. Romanesque small church architecture is defined by functional buidings, skilled local stonework, slim bell-towers and external decoration of rounded arcading and pilaster strips. They operated more as community centers than spiritual sources over the centuries and remain intact today suprisingly unmodified and their records unchanged.

We ran into the first economic austerity measure of which we were aware–the tourist information office was open but the churches all were closed due to budget cuts. We did not see the interior frescos or wood painting and could only enjoy their beatiful exteriors of local limestone and mortor and their charming village settings.