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HUESCA, ARAGON

Spain Aragon AragonAragonHuesca AragonTeruel AragonZaragoza

Huesca is a province of northeastern Spain, in northern Aragon. The capital is Huesca.

Positioned just south of the central Pyrenees, Huesca borders France and the French Departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées. Within Spain, Huesca's neighboring provinces are Navarre, Zaragoza and Lleida.

The romans colonised the province of Huesca, which formed the northern part of Hispania Tarraconensis, and continued to live there well into the 5th century until the arrival of the visigoths. As a mountainous frontier region, it was difficult to dominate. The northern counties had at one time belonged to the Kingdom of Navarre but split off and managed to stem early moorish invasions in the Middle Ages by forming alliances between themselves and with the Franks, to become frankish feudal marches. The imperative of sovereignty, or independence, for the northern border counts, gave rise to the legendary Kingdom of Aragon, which was the precursor to the Empire or Crown of Aragon, and ultimately the Kingdom of Spain.

Covering a primarily mountainous area of 15,636 km², the province of Huesca has a total population of 218,023, (in 2006), with almost a quarter of its people living in the capital city of Huesca. The low population density, 13.94/km², has meant that Huesca's lush valleys, rivers, and lofty mountain ranges have remained relatively pristine and unspoiled by progress.

Home to majestic scenery, the tallest mountain in the Pyrenees, the Aneto; eternal glaciers, such as at Monte Perdido; and the National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido, rich in flora and protected fauna. Popular with mountaineers, spelunkers, paragliders, and white water rafters it is also a popular snow skiing destination with notable resorts in Candanchú, Formigal, Astún, Panticosa and Cerler.

Huesca is also the capital of the province of the same name. In 2006 it had a population of 49,312.

Its pre-Roman Iberian name was Bolskan, the capital of the Ilergetes, in the north of Hispania Tarraconensis, on the road from Tarraco (modern Tarragona) and Ilerda (modern Lleida) to Caesaraugusta, and under the jurisdiction of the last-named city. Pliny alone places the Oscenses in Vescitania, a district mentioned nowhere else . The city's name was rendered as Osca, and was a Roman colony, Urbs Victrix Osca, during the Roman Empire. Under the impetus of Quintus Sertorius, the renegade Roman and Iberian hero who made Osca his base, the city minted its own coinage and was the site of a prestigious school founded by Sertorius to educate young Iberians in Latin and Romanitas in general. We learn from Plutarch that it was a large town, and the place where Sertorius died. It is probably the town called Ileoscan by Strabo, in an apparently corrupt passage (iii. p. 161; v. Ukert, vol. ii. pt. 1. p. 451.) It seems to have possessed silver mines, unless the argentum Oscense here mentioned merely refers to the minted silver of the town. Florez, however, has pointed out the impossibility of one place supplying such vast quantities of minted silver as we find recorded in ancient writers under the terms argentum Oscense, signatum Oscense; and is of the opinion that "Oscense" in these phrases means "Spanish", being a corruption of "Eus-cara".

The fully Romanised city, with its forum in the Cathedral square, was made a municipium by decree of Augustus in 30 BCE. It was renamed Wasqah during the period of Arab domination, when the fortified city was a stronghold defending the frontier against the Christian counts and local kings of the Pyrenees. In 1094 Sancho Ramirez built the nearby Montearagon castle with the intention of laying siege to Wasqah; here he met his death by a stray arrow as he was reconnoitring the city's walls. It was conquered in 1096 by Peter I of Aragon.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) the "Huesca Front" was the scene of some of the worst fighting between the Republicans and Franco's army. The city was besieged by the Republicans, George Orwell among them but never fell.
Map of Husca:

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