Pyrenees Villages – Aínsa, Broto and Torla-Ordesa

Pyrenees Villages – Aínsa, Broto and Torla-Ordesa

Gorgeous Medieval Villages in the Spanish Pyrenees - Aínsa, Broto & Torla-OrdesaWe had soooo much fun exploring the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in Aragon, Spain. However, I realize that some folks prefer to have a more relaxed holiday; And that hiking for 10+hours each day might not be everyone’s cup of tea! Well, if you fancy a more relaxing way to explore the area near the Ordesa Canyon or you like visiting picturesque Pyrenean villages you should take a look at Aínsa, Broto and Torla-Ordesa. These beautiful medieval villages are all located in Huesca province, in the Aragon region of Spain, surrounded by the Pyrenees. You don’t have to choose between them. It is easy to visit all three villages, even on the same day.

Torla-Ordesa

Torla-Ordesa is the closest village to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. So it is the perfect place to stay if you’d like to go for day hikes in Ordesa. The village is at an elevation of 1033m and is centered around a church, Iglesia de San Salvador. The church has a tunnel right under it so you can cross the village without climbing through all the small winding roads. We loved that view of the Mondarruego cliffs from the village. In the late afternoon, those cliffs look incredible because they glow as the sun sets.

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Torla-Ordesa’s Chruch – Iglesia de San Salvador

The church was damaged during the Spanish Civil war. It was then reconstructed in the 1950s, and finished off in the 1990s. When we visited it was closed and locked, but there is a pretty garden with fantastic views for the surrounding valley.

Ermita de Santa Lucía

We found a second church, Ermita de Santa Lucía, at the top of the hill in Torla. This one is up near the farms so has fabulous views.

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Over the years Torla has adapted itself to cater for tourists, with plenty of hotels, campsites and places to eat. Still, it is a really charming place to explore, with thin alleyways, plenty of cats and even a stream running right through the center.

Just be aware if you stay here, you might get woken up very early in the morning by cow-bells as the cows walk through the village. The photo below is the view from our patio when we stayed in Torla-Ordesa. Pretty good eh!?

Broto

We first visited Broto on our second day of epic hikes near Ordesa. The first thing you’ll notice about this village is the massive waterfall, Cascada de Sorrosal, that cascades down the canyon behind the village. Broto is a little larger than Torla-Ordesa. To us, it seemed slightly less touristy, and a bit more lived in. We visited on a Wednesday morning, and the center was filled with a market selling tasty-looking cheeses and meats.

Broto’s Church – Iglesia de San Pedro

The center of Broto is a bit of a maze, with this church, Iglesia de San Pedro in the middle. The church tower doesn’t look too imposing from afar, but when you stand in front of it, it seemed massive!

Like in Torla-Ordesa, Mondarruego mountain looms above Broto, making a fantastic back-drop for any photos you take of the village.

Walk between Torla-Ordesa and Broto

If you have a little extra time, there is a really pleasant walk between Torla-Ordesa and Broto, along the Camino de Torla, by the river. The path is just over 3km. So it’s relaxing (not too long) with pretty views of both villages. Just be aware, if you’re not a fan of hiking, it is less effort to walk from Torla to Broto, (compared to the other way) as that direction is downhill most of the way.

Cascada de Sorrosal

The highlight in Broto was the gorgeous waterfall, Cascada de Sorrosal. We parked in the huge car park on the edge of Broto then walked over. The walk is less than a kilometer, with just over 100m elevation gain. It would be easy for children (or grannies) right up until the via ferrata viewpoint. When we visited a rock-fall had destroyed the stairs, but you can still clamber over to the waterfall.

I loved looking at the rock formations! You can really see the fault lines where the rocks have been folded to create the Pyrenees.

Via Ferrata in Broto

If you’d like to get even closer, you can try via Ferrata climbing in Broto! After we’d finished exploring the waterfall, we spent some time watching people climb up the amazing-looking via ferrata route next to Broto’s waterfall. It looks pretty scary, but apparently it is a good route for beginners – just if you want to give it a try, go with a guide who has all the correct equipment!

Aínsa

When we drove through the beautiful medieval village of Aínsa, we HAD to stop and look around. We could see there was a castle on top of the hill, and it all looked too pretty *not* to take a peek. It was only later that I realized that before our trip, Marc’s dad mentioned that on our drive to Ordesa, we should definitely stop at the beautiful medieval village of Aínsa. We stopped here on a whim before we realized we were already planning to stop here!

We parked on the far side of the village, crossed the Río Ara and then hiked up the hill to the castle. Marc and I both needed to stretch our legs, but if you don’t like walking up hills, you can drive up and park at the castle.

I loved all the medieval alleyways, doors and signs in Aínsa. Most buildings have been restored, keeping the original style of the village, so it is beautiful. I imagine it is full of tourists in the summertime, but it was peaceful and quiet in September.

Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María church

Once you’ve made it near the top of the hill, Aínsa opens out into a large market square, with Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María church as the focus point.

In the summertime, several of the restaurants put umbrellas and tables out in the square, so it is a pleasant place to relax, watch the local cats and grab a bite to eat. We loved it so much that we came back a few days later so my parents could see it too. Apparently this historic area of Aínsa was mostly abandoned in the 19th-20th centuries, as most residents lived at the bottom of the hill. That is why the medieval buildings are so well preserved.

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Castillo de Aínsa – Aínsa Castle

My favourite part of Aínsa was the castle on top of the hill, mostly because it is the highest point so has fab views of the surrounding mountains. Most of the castle is in ruins, but you can walk around the ramparts.

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I loved this view from the end of the ramparts over to another church tower on top of a hill.

We didn’t spend a huge amount of time in any of these Pyrenees villages (as we were so keen to be out hiking) but hopefully my photos will give you an idea about how charming they all are. Which one would you like to visit most?

Gorgeous Medieval Villages in the Spanish Pyrenees - Aínsa, Broto & Torla-Ordesa Aínsa, Broto & Torla-Ordesa - fantastic villages to explore on your way to Ordesa

37 thoughts on “Pyrenees Villages – Aínsa, Broto and Torla-Ordesa

  1. What amazing little villages. I love walking around places like this when I’m traveling, especially on Europe where, let’s face it, everything is just a little bit more quaint and beautiful. It’s so great you can walk between these places and easily see them all in a day.

    1. Well, not everything! But I have to admit, it is a bit of a shock coming back to Europe after living in Canada. Soooo many of the buildings in these villages were older than the country we currently live in!

    1. Yay! I am so glad you like the look of it! I need to write about the food too (at some point) as the Catalan food was so, soooo tasty!

  2. I’m absolutely in love with villages in Spain! They’re just super cute. Lovely post, bit of a change from the usual ones but loved it as much. I’d love to visit Broto one day, the views are just fantastic!

    1. Me too! I really loved these villages (and the ones we found further East, in the Vall de Boí.) It’s a bit of a shame there is so little information about them in English.

  3. I’ve been looking for some less known places in Spain, as I’m moving there next year to travel around the whole country. I’m so grateful for finding this article and this area in my plans is totally uncovered. Thanks <3

    1. Oooh yay Helga you will have such a blast!! I will have to follow your adventures as we only scratched the surface. There were sooo many gorgeous areas of the Pyrenees that we drove through.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this. My son studied abroad for a semester in Spain while he was in college. After seeing some of his pictures, I knew it was a place I’d like to see. Now that I’ve seen your pictures, I know I want to take a trip there. My husband and I really enjoy hiking so this would be amazing!

    1. If you both like hiking, you will LOVE it! We found fantastic paths everywhere we explored in Spain. The National parks are all really well looked after, with easy access (you can’t drive into them, but there are cheap 4x4s to take hikers in.

      I have a few more hiking posts to type up about our time there, but the variety of terrains blew us away. It’s a walkers paradise.

  5. Your posts on the Pyrenees has me wanting to book a trip to Spain! After seeing a few photos of these villages in your hiking post I’m so happy you did an article just on these villages. They all look adorable but Torla-Ordesa might be the one I want to visit most. The mountain in the background looks stunning, especially at sunset. It almost looks like you have the place to yourself, were there many other tourists?

    1. Torla-Ordesa was my favourite too. I am so glad we stayed there. It was fantastic for being able to walk out the door, and get straight onto epic trails!!

    1. You guys would love it. It’s touristy, but not super touristy…so everything is still affordable, and people are so friendly. Does Ash like hiking too?

  6. All of these Medieval Villages look adorable!! I especially love the pictures of Broto and the Via Ferrata. I would love to climb that waterfall! Looks like such a charming trip.

  7. I think Torla Ordessa might be my favorite just from the pictures, but I would love to visit all of these one day (especially that waterfall!)

  8. WOW I am absolutely dying to visit more of Spain! I’ve only been to Barcelona but would love to explore more. Torla Ordessa is the place I’d like to visit most because those mountains look stunning behind the city! But to be honest, I’d be happy visiting any of them haha, wouldn’t even mind being woken up by cow bells 😉

  9. This sounds like a great lesser known region to visit! Would love to just visit for a few weeks and take things lovely. Ahh the bucketlist grows!

    1. I think it is pretty well known to Spanish people – they just managed to keep it secret from us English speakers! 😉

      You are right though, the whole region is perfect for slowly exploring.

  10. These villages look so charming and fun to explore! There is something about medieval towns that I love, especially the churches and cobblestone streets. And that waterfall is gorgeous too! Definitely a place I’d like to visit! 😁

  11. KITTIES!!!

    I love the idea of a stream running through the village, and cows ambling through the streets <3 My favorite towns are the ones that weren’t designed to be totally separate from their surroundings; it sounds like each of these is more of an extension of the environment, or at least in harmony with it.

    You mentioned car parks, and that some places are more touristy and some more lived-in; is this area as back-in-time as it looks from the pictures? Or are they actually pretty modern with full amenities and everything?

    You’re so right about the rock formations around the waterfall, it looks all twisted and warped! A true geographical timeline.

    It’s so fun to break up long hikes by seeing other features like this in between!

    1. I actually have cat photos from every village, but I wasn’t sure if anyone else would be interested in posts about the cats that ran away from me all over the world.

      This area feels like it is from a different time (they must have strict laws about building new buildings in the same style.) But once you get inside the buildings, most places have been done up to be modern. You can tell they have had to make adjustments for tourism with things like car parks BUT the parking is normally on the edge of the villages so it doesn’t take the ‘ye olde world’ feeling away.

      P.s. The feral kitty photo was right under a Camino de Santiago, so if you do go for that long hike, you will get villages and kitties like this.

      1. I think you should dedicate a whole blog to feral cats around the world. Maybe if I ever do the Camino I’ll do a “Cat of the Day” series lol.

        That’s great news how they maintain that old world feeling; I’m all for economic growth if that’s what people need, but it’s nice that some things can remain true to their original character. I need that reminder of our roots sometimes.

    1. That waterfall in Broto was pretty stunning! The whole area was spectacular though. Now I’ve seen the kind of hikes you did in Canada, I think you’ll LOVE it.

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