Mequinenza

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Mequinenza
Mequinenza
Mequinensa
Municipality
Flag of Mequinenza
Flag
Coat of arms of Mequinenza
Coat of arms
Mequinenza is located in Spain
Mequinenza
Mequinenza
Location in Aragon
Coordinates: 41°22′0″N 0°18′0″E / 41.36667°N 0.30000°E / 41.36667; 0.30000Coordinates: 41°22′0″N 0°18′0″E / 41.36667°N 0.30000°E / 41.36667; 0.30000
Country  Spain
Community  Aragon
Province Zaragoza
Comarca Bajo Cinca/Baix Cinca
Area
 • Total 307.2 km2 (118.6 sq mi)
Elevation 75 m (246 ft)
Population (2007)
 • Total 2,492
 • Density 8.1/km2 (21/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website www.mequinensa.com

Mequinenza (Spanish: [mekiˈnenθa]) or Mequinensa (Catalan: [məkiˈnɛnsə], locally [mekiˈnɛnsa]) is a town and municipality of the province of Zaragoza, in the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It is located beside the river Segre, close to its confluence with the river Ebro.

History and features[edit]

It is necessary to emphasize the importance that some authors have given the situation in this zone of the Iberian city of Octogesa, that played an important paper in the development of the battle of Ilerda, since 1983 and as part of the research programs of the Museum of Zaragoza, in collaboration with the Town Hall of Mequinenza and the support of the Diputación General de Aragón, a series of excavations were carried out at three sites: Los Castellets, Barranco de la Mina Vallfera and Riols I.

  • The Castellets: a key space for the knowledge of the passage of the peoples of the Late Bronze Age to the culture of the ballot boxes. The set consists of a colony on a stirrup in the river Ebro, surrounded by two towers, a wall and a ditch, next to two necropolis.
  • Barranco de la Mina Vallfera: an emergency excavation campaign was carried out on this site, discovering a very important group of villages necropolis and final Neolithic dating.
  • Riols I. In October 1985, the first emergency excavation campaign was carried out, describing a settlement similar to that of the Vallfera Mine Ravine, the conservation of this deposit allowed to initiate the studies that indicated that it dated from the final period of Neolithic.

Antiquity and Middle Age[edit]

In Roman times the old Octogesa (or Otogesa) is built, which would be located in the old old town and in which there would be an important fortress, although this hypothesis is not confirmed; in the decay of the Roman Empire, Octogesa was conquered by the Gothic army and later conquered by the Berber tribe of the Miknasa, which would give its name to the city, which was known in Andalusian times as Miknasa al-Zaytun, or Miknasa of the Olives. It is believed that they settled between the year 714 and the year 719; in this period the imposing Castle of Mequinenza is built. Al-Idrisi, chronicler of the time, describes it like this:

    "It is small, but it has a strong fortress of strong aspect and it is in the borders of al-Ándalus".

With the Reconquista, the first attempt of assault to Mequinenza (1133) by Alfonso the Battaler was successful and, although the Almorávides reconquer the town the following year, it is definitively won the 24 of October of 1149 by the Aragonese army, the same one day that fall Fraga and Lérida.

Mequinenza, after half a century of direct royal jurisdiction, was a manor of the house of the Montcada, together with Aitona and Seròs. And these are the ones that build the important Castle of Mequinenza. And although the Christian conquest still stood, the three villages were mostly Muslim. Years later conflicts between Fraga and Mequinenza arise because of their border boundaries, on September 6, 1246, to avoid battles and litigation, Pere de Montcada and his wife Sibila proceeded to muddle these terms, although in exchange for the improvements granted to the fragatinos, respecting the terms of their municipalities, the men of the town of Fraga are forced to pay the Montcada hundred maravedís of gold.

Mequinenza does not avoid the plague of 1348, which causes many victims on this occasion and also in epidemic outbreaks since 1380, as a result, from 1381 to 1387, the infant Juan el Cazador remains on several occasions in the Castle.

In 1410, after the death without descendants of Martin the Human and during the successive disputes that led to the Commitment of Caspe, the supporters of Count Jaime de Urgel in the kingdom of Aragon organized their own parliament in the locality, in opposition to that of Alcañiz , headed by those loyal to Fernando de Trastámara.

Modern and Contemporary Age[edit]

Between centuries XV and XVI, a time of misery and hunger happens with several revolts due to the oppression of some gentlemen; in the year 1697 Fray Miguel de Salas writes the book Vida de Santa Agathoclia, virgin and martyr, patron of Mequinenza.

During the Napoleonic invasion, General Suchet (1810), as Ramon Berenguer IV did in 1149, conquered Mequinenza, Fraga and Lerida, this facilitates the conquest of the whole of the Lower Cinca and the Segriá, and as a result of this figure "Mequinenza" in the Arc de Triomphe of the Place Charles de Gaulle (old Place de l'Étoile) of Paris as one of the great victories of Napoleon. In 1812 Mequinenza became part of the French department of the Bocas del Ebro; in 1814 Mequinenza was recovered for the Spaniards by troops of General Copons thanks to an audacious stratagem due to the Spanish military and adventurer of flamenco origin Juan Van Halen, then lieutenant general , that by the same means obtained the taking of Lérida and the castle of Monzón.

In 1831 already belonged to the Dukes of Medinaceli and also to the corregimiento of Saragossa. Therefore, when this city becomes the head of one of the three provinces in which the old Kingdom of Aragon would be divided in 1835, Mequinenza remains integrated in the province of Zaragoza. Done that helps that in 1957 the place was separated from belonging to the diocese of Lerida and joined to that of Zaragoza.

Mequinenza returns to be place of importance during the Carlist Wars and later in the War of the Matiners; in the course of the last Civil War (1936-39), its municipal term was the scene of battles of the Battle of the Ebro between June and November 1938. As a result, its bridge was destroyed and was not rebuilt until fifties.

With the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, between 1957 and 1964 was built a huge reservoir for hydroelectric use and new schools that are part of the little legacy of the Old People, as a result of the reservoir began the construction of the new town and abandonment of the "Poble Vell", known for the literary work written by Jesus Moncada, favorite son of the town.

Touristic Sites[edit]

Mequinenza Castle[edit]

The building rises almost to the edge of a great precipice, being a closed mass of quite height, its plant is an irregular quadrilateral, with seven rectangular turrets except one, the more robust, that is curiously of pentagonal plant. Two towers flank the small door that is semicircular, under shield and protected by a bollard. Few forts will have a better location than this, contemplating a vast and impressive landscape, almost geological, on the confluence of the Ebro, Segre and Cinca rivers and their surrounding lands, it is not surprising that the Moncada, masters of the barony of Mequinenza chose this nest of eagles for their fortified mansion. The building is an authentic Castle-Palace, one of the best that Gothic art bequeathed to the Crown of Aragon, dating to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

In its beginnings it was an Arab fortress, built by the Berber tribe of the Miknasa towards the XII century; in which at the end of several conquests, it falls into the hands of Ramon Berenguer IV, passing definitively to the hands of Christians. After several changes of owner, in 1184 the castle and the town of Mequinenza, the Marquis of Aitona, Ramón Guillén de Moncada, and later to the Dukes of Medinaceli (Duchess of Alba) are granted.

Castle of Mequinenza.

But until the fifteenth century the first reforms were not introduced in order to convert the military fortress into residence-palace.

Much later, during the years 1700-1710 (War of Succession) in which there was a change of dynasty in Spain (of the Austrias to the Bourbons) was transformed and conditioned the castle and the environs to a new form of war (with firearms, artillery, etc.) and this was the moment when the Duke of Orleans ordered a road from Mequinenza to Tortosa to be built parallel to the river in order to guard all the barges (llauts) river between these two populations.

During the period 1808-1814 (War of Independence) the castle endured three attacks by Napoleón, but finally in 1810 was conquered by the troops of Marshal Suchet, and belonged until 1814 to the French government. (Mequinenza happened to be inscribed in large letters in one of the outer columns in the Arc de Triomphe of Paris.) But in February of that same year and without firing a single shot it returned to Spanish hands by means of a more espionage strategy of Van Halen.

Mequinenza in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Between 1820 and 1823 acquired an important paper, supporting important Carlist attacks and conserving military garrison that lasted until principles of the century XX in which it is abandoned, during the civil war it happens to be a castle of republican observation and prison and once finished the war is in ruins until the company ENHER reconstructs it in the decade of years 50.

Currently the castle is owned by the ENDESA Foundation; in order to visit the castle it is necessary to request the visit in advance in the Office of Tourism of the City council of Mequinenza. Guided tours are held on Tuesday mornings with prior request.

The building rises almost to the edge of a great precipice, being a closed mass of quite height, its plant is an irregular quadrilateral, with seven rectangular turrets except one, the more robust, that is curiously of pentagonal plant. Two towers flank the small door that is semicircular, under shield and protected by a bollard. Few fortresses will have a better location than this one, contemplating a vast and impressive landscape, almost geological, on the confluence of the rivers Ebro, Segre and Cinca and its lands The Old Town

Old Town of Mequinenza[edit]

The town of Mequinenza was situated on the left bank of the river Ebro, and endured the riots of a capricious river that flooded the lower parts of the town when they appeared. Thanks to the Ebro River, Mequinenza established a full-fledged river trade, which gave prestige not only to Mequinenza carpenters but also to the "struts"; in the period of splendor, a fleet of 16 llaüts (boats carrying between 18 and 30 tons) was reached. During the last century, its main means of life has been coal, although in recent years there has been a sharp decline in activity.

With the arrival of the company ENHER life changed for the majority of people, going from having 4033 registered inhabitants to having 5800 registered and about 1500 more uncounted. Many of them were workers from other localities to work on the construction of the Mequinenza dam, the mines began to close due to the significant increase in the water level of the Ribarroja dam. Thus began an exodus for the inhabitants of Mequinenza in which some went abroad to work in the mining, others to different points of the Spanish geography and a majority stayed in that at the moment is Mequinenza.

By the end of 1974 the majority of the population had already settled in their new homes. Mequinenza probably became the first town of Spain in which all its inhabitants were the owners of their houses, it is not surprising that the Moncada, masters of the barony of Mequinenza chose this nest of eagles for their fortified mansion. The building is an authentic Castle-Palace, one of the best that Gothic art bequeathed to the Crown of Aragon, dating to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

In its beginnings it was an Arab fortress, built by the Berber tribe of the Miknasa towards the XII century; in which at the end of several conquests, it falls into the hands of Ramon Berenguer IV, passing definitively to the hands of Christians. After several changes of owner, in 1184 the castle and the town of Mequinenza, the Marquis of Aitona, Ramón Guillén de Moncada, and later to the Dukes of Medinaceli (Duchess of Alba) are granted.

The Old Town[edit]

The town of Mequinenza was situated on the left bank of the river Ebro, and endured the riots of a capricious river that flooded the lower parts of the town when they appeared. Thanks to the Ebro River, Mequinenza established a full-fledged river trade, which gave prestige not only to Mequinenza carpenters but also to the "struts"; in the period of splendor, a fleet of 16 llaüts (boats carrying between 18 and 30 tons) was reached. During the last century, its main means of life has been coal, although in recent years there has been a sharp decline in activity.

With the arrival of the company ENHER life changed for the majority of people, going from having 4033 registered inhabitants to having 5800 registered and about 1500 more uncounted. Many of them were workers from other localities to work on the construction of the Mequinenza dam, the mines began to close due to the significant increase in the water level of the Ribarroja dam. Thus began an exodus for the inhabitants of Mequinenza in which some went abroad to work in the mining, others to different points of the Spanish geography and a majority stayed in that at the moment is Mequinenza. By the end of 1974 the majority of the population was already settled in the new population.

Museums of Mequinenza[edit]

In the Museums of Mequinenza, you can explore an underground gallery of coal of more than 1000 meters of route in the Museum of the Mine, to cross the history of the population until the disappearance of the Mequinenza under the waters of the river Ebro in the Museum of History or discover how lived during Prehistory in the Museum of the Prehistoric Past. Opened in 2006, they are located in the Maria Quintana School Group.

The Museums of Mequinenza center their speeches in the population of Mequinenza, that was flooded under the waters of the Ebro and was demolished. Today you can visit part of the old town, the medieval castle of the city and a coal mine of more than one kilometer in length with historical material and machines that have been used for the extraction of coal for more than 150 years in the Mequinenza mining basin, the "Camí de Sirga" lodge is also located next to the Museums, which collects the name of the old route used by the boats to go up the river Ebro with the llaüts, some boats that could carry 30 tons of coal.

Aiguabarreig Segre-Cinca-Ebro[edit]

At the confluence of the rivers Segre and Ebro, the Aiguabarreig is an area with great natural richness and a great variety of ecosystems ranging from Mediterranean steppes to impenetrable riverside forests, making this space a paradise for biodiversity. Territorially, the Aiguabarreig is in the center of the Middle Depression of the Ebro, it limits to the west with the Monegros, to the east with the Tossals of Montmeneu and Almatret and to the south with the tail of the Ribarroja reservoir. This space is named after the Catalan word for the place where two or more streams of water meet and form one, the Segre and the Cinca form a first Aiguabarreig between the towns of La Granja d'Escarp, Massalcoreig and Torrente of Cinca, a few kilometers converge with the waters of the Ebro, already in the municipal term of Mequinenza, conforming one of the major fluvial confluences of all the Iberian Peninsula.

In the Aiguabarreig we find hundreds of meters wide water with numerous fluvial islands and riverside forests, large masses of reed, pebble beaches, ponds and galleries, it is a point of convergence of the steppe flora coming from the arid zone of Monegros and of the Mediterranean flora that ascends by the Ebro valley. Thanks to these characteristics coexist species of opposite atmospheres.

Birds are the most numerous group and range from ardent colonies to all types of birds of prey and desert environments. Reptiles, amphibians and mammals can also be found, especially bats, deer, roe deer, otters and the increasing presence of wild goats.

Mequinenza Reservoir[edit]

View of the town

Many fishing guides operate in this area using boats due to the large expanse of water created by the building of an artificial dam, the Mequinenza Reservoir.

A little further downriver are the towns and villages of Flix, Asco and Vinebre, where exceptional fishing can be enjoyed in more scenic surroundings.

The town is most well known amongst northern European fishermen for the large but elusive Wels catfish (Silurus glanis), which are found in the vast reservoir.

This area is now very heavily fished as a result and it seems that many fishermen are travelling further down river to the less frequented places to catch almost equally large fish, this is only if you know the river exceptionally well though.

Local council[edit]

Mayor: Magdalena Godía Ibarz, Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE

References[edit]

External links[edit]