Jaca, the town of ice and snow
If you think that there are no winter sports in Spain, you haven’t been to Jaca. When its founders decided that the Pyrenees were the right place to settle, more than two millennia ago, they didn’t think that the location would define the essence of the town and its inhabitants forever.
Jaca’s idyll with snow and ice dates back to the origins of the town. Its love of winter sports came later, but it is one of these relationships that give you butterflies in your stomach and has also led this Pyrenean enclave to put forward its candidature for the Winter Olympics in 2022. The race to raise the five ring flag began over three decades ago, and this also means that the town and its surrounding area have facilities that make it the paradise for those who do winter sports.
The most emblematic treasure, that which embodies Jaca’s desire to one day become an Olympic town, lies in the Ice Palace, a brilliant work in the shape of a dome that was designed by the Coll-Barreu office of architects and was opened in 2007. While it waits for the players of an Olympic hockey final, ice-skating lovers have two rinks for sliding and inventing figures.
If we turn the water into snow instead of the ice, our options are multiplied. Looking at the Pyrenees, we can make out the pistes of Aramón and those of Astún and Candanchú, the two ski resorts closest to the town, under 5 km apart. Each has almost 40 kilometres of skiable slopes distributed over 54 pistes in the case of Astún and 44 in Candanchú. With the added attraction of being able to see Spain or France from the heights, the options for lovers of physical activity spreads from Alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, ice hockey, biathlon to dog sledging. Can anyone dare say that Spain is not made for winter sports? Maybe in the end it won’t even be necessary for Jaca to be made an Olympic centre for the world to know its passion for ice and snow. Maybe the Olympic spirit is already in Jaca just waiting for everyone to go and find it.
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