Escalinata de Teruel, a beautiful journey into the history and culture of Teruel

The Escalinata de Teruel is a must when visiting the Aragonese city. Its striking construction, however, was not merely artistic, but functional. At the beginning of 1900, the town’s railway station was opened. Twenty years later, the transport service was already fundamental for the connection of its citizens with the neighbouring towns. This is why the need to connect the centre with the station arose. The only problem was that between the two there was a difference in level of about 26 metres.

La escalinata de Teruel

Escalinata de Teruel. | Shutterstock

Thus, under the idea of the engineer José Torán, the famous Escalinata de Teruel was built between 1920 and 1921. This neo-Mudejar style work connects the Plaza del Óvalo at the top with the station at the bottom. When going down or up it, you can appreciate the details made with green and white ceramics, as well as the warmth of the red brick with the solid stone that makes up almost all the work. From there you can also see the most important point of the structure: the small square that forms the centre of the stairway.

The square of the lost lovers and the presumptuous bulls

The wall in the square displays a work by Aniceto Marinas that reflects the famous story of the lovers of Teruel. It portrays the failed attempt by Isabel and Diego, two lovers from different social classes to marry, who were forced to separate by the refusal of the girl’s father to marry her to a man without money. When Diego returns to the city, 5 years later, with the necessary capital, he finds Isabel married to another man.

Los amantes de Teruel

The Lovers of Teruel. | Wikimedia

The beloved, in despair, ran after the bed where his beloved was resting next to her new husband. There he asked Isabel to kiss him so as not to die; but she refused because she did not want to break off her marriage. Then Diego died instantly. Her husband, knowing what had happened, helped Isabel bury the body so as not to arouse suspicion. Before the grave of her lover, she kissed him and died on the spot.

The lovers of Teruel became tourist and historical symbols of the city. They are commemorated with sculptures in the nearby church of San Pedro in Teruel or through a theatrical performance held every February in the city. This is known as “Las Bodas de Isabel de Segura” (The Weddings of Isabel de Segura) and is categorised as a Festival of national tourist interest.

 

Escalinata de Teruel

Escalinata de Teruel. | Shutterstock

Above the high relief is the town’s coat of arms; which represents several of the icons of the area and the community, including the bull with a star above it. According to the most widespread theory, this symbol represents the origin of Teruel. It seems that the founders of the city knew where to locate it thanks to the sighting of a bull that seemed to be followed by a star wherever it passed by. They attributed this to Providence and finally the city of Teruel was established on the site. This animal is known as the “Torico“. Very close to the Escalinata there is a monument in the square that bears its name.

The stairway to the Mudejar paradise

El estilo neo-mudéjar está presente en toda la Escalinata de Teruel

The Neo-Mudejar style is present throughout the Escalinata de Teruel. | Shutterstock

In the third and last section, there are two semi-circular stairways that end in similar towers, which are an icon of the Hispano-Arabic style that presents the entire complex. From this point we can also appreciate the modernist touch of the forged street lights that run through the entire structure, and which were a sensation at the time. The choice of the towers is common in the architecture of Spanish villages because of their sense of vigilance and protection. Another well-known example, a few streets away from the stairway, is the tower of El Salvador. It is an imposing Moorish style bell tower from which the city can be seen.

This artistic movement is so present in the city’s best-known buildings that, together, they form a large open-air museum dedicated to it. Thanks to this, the city was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. From the top of the stairways you can reach some of the most impressive examples of the Mudejar style, such as the Tower of San Martín or the Cathedral of Santa María de Mediavilla.

Connecting the new with the old, Teruel style

From the top of the Escalinata de Teruel. | Shutterstock

Although not everything is ancient history, as both the areas surrounding the structure and the Paseo del Óvalo were remodelled. Something that also goes back to the origin of its existence; as the station in Teruel is just a few metres from the steps. Besides, it is very close to the city centre.

On the natural side, the lower part of the building site connects with the Jardincillos de la Estación. This is an extensive green area to get some fresh air and enjoy the spectacular view of the stairway. According to the locals, the best views of the monument can be seen from there, as this is the only way to see it in its entirety and capture all its details.


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