Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ermita de San Cristóbal

GR1 Sendero Historico day 26.
Distance: 9.0km (762.9km), time spent: 2:44.
Weather: Very good.

Situated above Bolea, there is another chapel in the cliffs, built into a crevice of the terraced rock formations, but contrary to Ermita Virgen de la Peña, you cannot see Ermita de San Cristóbal from a distance. You can only get to this curious chapel by foot.

Torre de Marcuello in the far distance when I set out on the way to Ermita de San Cristóbal.

If you at first has walked to Bolea (from Loarre), then you have to walk back along the GR1 to get to where the path up to the chapel start, but the possibility of not having to carry your backpack up (and down again) makes the additional walk worth it. Close to where you leave the GR1, there is another chapel, Ermita Santa Quitera.

The path to Ermita de San Cristóbal, some curious rock formations in the hills above, the valley closing in at the end.

The trail up from Bolea provides the best scenery of the day. Above me there are some cool, small and red cliff formations that appears from the hills, the valley I walk gets narrower and narrower. This does not prevent me from thinking that it is really not a good idea of me to do this. As the clock turns, thoughts in my mind centers on what time it gets dark. I feel that a wiser idea would be to rest my feet instead. That is until I arrive at the place.

Stairs in the cliff up to the chapel.

Inside Ermita de San Cristóbal.

When I am almost entirely surrounded by the cliffs, I have come to the chapel, but I walk right past it without seeing it. First after I have forced myself up a slippery path through thick bush, I understand that I have arrived, in front of me a staircase of stone winds up into the cliffs. I had even stood and looked up at the chapel, without seeing it in the cliff.

Faded and worn mural inside the chapel.

Of the chapel itself, there is not much left; first and foremost it reminds me more of the work of a ‘mad’ hermit than a real chapel. The altar has almost fell together, the existing murals on the walls has faded and disappeared when the plaster has loosened from the walls. The walls of the chapel are built up by stones that are crudely cemented together. Cracks in the walls lets light through. Most sadly is it to see people’s constant need to scribble down their names and words on walls where they do not belong.

The backyard of the chapel so to speak.

This however, does not put a lid on the experience of the place at all. I am truly satisfied that I walked here. After walking through the two rooms of the chapel, you come to a small ledge where you can see down through the valley and out towards Hoya de Huesca. I can hear voices coming up from the narrow valley beneath me.

Inside the chapel, towards the entrance.

A shelf inside the cliff is turned into a makeshift altar. On the altar there is a bottle of water, a painted rock, to glass containers with pieces of paper inside and a guestbook (that someone has burned one of the corners of, curiously). I sign the guestbook with my usual walking alter ego. Outside there is another makeshift assembly, this time a crib.

A makeshift altar, with guestbooks, water, paper-containers and painted stones.

The other visitors appears, I stay for a while together with them before I venture on the way back again. I shake my head a little of myself that I did not see the place when I walked by it. I arrive back in Bolea to a great sunset.

The cliff housing Ermita de San Cristóbal.

Other thoughts have come to my mind when it comes to taking the higher traverse from Loarre and here, at least with a big backpack. To stumble down through the path from the hill above and down to the valley below Ermita de San Cristóbal, would have been a hard trial and a source of frustration. To refrain from visiting this marvellous location on the other hand is not recommended.

A chapel in a crevice in cliffs.

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