Essential Aragon Facts
Aragon is a fascinating region with a rich history that has touched the world many times - well worth exploring physically and in the history books.
Aragon is an amazing region because of its rich independent history. Where it was once a wholly separate state and culture with its own distinct language (Aragonese, similar to Catalan), today it's an autonomous region of Spain that is very Spanish in culture, even preferring Spanish over Aragonese in almost all matters. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to locate someone who speaks Aragonese there these days - though they do still exist.
Aragon only accounts for 3% of the population of Spain these days and is incredibly depopulated. Miles upon miles of it is completely empty and rural, almost wild. Half the 1.2 million people living in Aragon live in the capital city of Zaragoza, in fact, leaving the countryside deserted.
Interestingly, at least to me, is the fact that despite this low population Aragon is one of the most important industrial areas of not just Spain, but of the European Union. I sometimes wonder if King Ferdinand ever imagined this future for his tiny kingdom when he joined his house to the house of Castile.
History has been changed by Aragon on several occasions. For example, did you know that the Church of England was formed in part due to Aragon? Well, in a sense, anyway; King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon in 1509 and at first things went well, but when she didn't produce an heir Henry's eye wandered and he became interested in Anne Boleyn, so he sought a way to get rid of Catherine. The Catholic Church wouldn't allow a divorce, and simply cutting off Catherine's head wouldn't have been politically wise (some of Henry's wives, as we know, were not so well protected) so he formed his own Church in part to effect his divorce from Catherine, setting himself as head of the new Church.
Aragon is a beautiful country. You can enjoy an incredible urban experience in the capital, and then experience some of the most isolated and unspoiled country available to the world today, all in one place! And all you need is some basic Spanish to get by.
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