It gives me great pleasure to share with the world this magical wonder of “Armantes” which we have right in our backyard.
I reside in a small Spanish town (20k population) that goes by the name of Calatayud. It’s a long story (how I got here AND how the town came to be) so here are the spark notes: The town was first founded by Roman settlers in the name of Augustus Bilbilis right around the middle of the 1st century. FIRST CENTURY. My hometown in Northern California was officially incorporated in 1893 during the Gold Rush, so talk about old AF! Back to the Romans: Calatayud sits on the Jalón River and just a few kilometers to the north of the city, is the archeaological site of the Roman ruins. It’s been as well conserved as possible during the last 20 centuries and the theater and bath house still maintain their architectural foundation.
OK, so the people of Calatayud are called “Bilbilitanos” <–this is a ‘demonym’. Did you know that word existed? I learned it in English after learning it in Spanish first (‘gentilicio’). So like people from California are Californians or New Yorkers are people from NY. Those are demonyms. Anyways, Calatayud was founded by Romans an effing long time ago and fast forward to the year 700 or so, Moors took over, built an epic castle in the 10th century which sits on the highest hilltop above the village and the name Calatayud was born from “Qalat ‘Ayyub” which in Arabic means Ayyub’s Castle. Then in 2009, a small town girl from NorCal arrived. With Moorish and Roman roots this special place has been my home away from home for the past decade. The end.
The most brilliant part of living here is the surrounding geography and our proximity to the Pyrenees. Well, close enough; we are still a 2-3 hour drive from our favorite mountain range so when we are just kicking it around town on the weekends, we tend to enjoy small town Saturdays n Sundays doing some early AM or sunset hiking. Today’s post is dedicated to SIERRA DE ARMANTES, a spectacular little range where we can find “los castillejos” or “little castles”. Red earth and cool geography, somewhat Grand Canyon-esque.
I’m more partial to sunrises, but it’s hard to get other people on board for that type of adventure so we also like to grab snacks and adult bevvies & hike up at dusk. There’s a cross that sits a couple hundred meters above Calatayud city and it offers us spectacular views of surrounding villages and the Castillejos themselves.
Holler at me if you’re ever around these parts and wanna go exploring!