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«Pirineos-Monte Perdido»


patrimonio Inmaterial

This will cross-reference all available documents in our data base related to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

20th century: Our recent history

A century of sweeping change begins

In 1923, General Miguel Primo de Rivera set himself up as a dictator with the consent of King Alfonso XIII and some political parties, who were keen to see social change but without a drastic revolution occurring.

The general put an end to the system of cacicatos (chiefs or bigwigs) in municipalities and launched a policy to build schools and to introduce and develop new industries.

The government's urge to generate electricity and so create wealth led to the construction of the Lafortunada and Alto Cinca hydroelectric power stations in the Sobrarbe area, as a result of which the population grew dramatically in a number of places.

In 1918, the Ordesa Valley was declared the Ordesa National Park.


In the 1920s, a number of roads were built through areas that were previously impassable. One such road was the Paso de las Devotas. Since then, the Bielsa Valley has been much better connected with the rest of Sobrarbe.

For a brief time, the iron mines in Parzán in the Bielsa Valley continued to operate.

Minas de Bielsa.

Hasta mediados del siglo XX, tuvo gran relevancia la explotación maderera y su transporte mediante nabatas que bajaban hasta Tortosa.Households remained very poor and even though animal husbandry and shepherding remained the basis of the economy, seasonal migration began, with men crossing the mountain passes to look for work in the fields and factories of France.

The Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed in Madrid on 14 April 1931, ushering in a spell during which people started to adopt particular political and ideological stances.

In Aínsa, near the area of the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido World Heritage Site, the libertarian District Federation of Collectives was founded.

The Civil War and the Battle of Bielsa Pocket

The Spanish Civil War broke out on 18 July 1936, when troops under the command of General Franco rose up against the legitimately elected government.

The area of the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido World Heritage Site was the battleground where one of the most emblematic episodes of the war took place, the Battle of Bielsa Pocket. Part of the 43rd Division of the Republican Army was withdrawing back in the direction of France and was caught in an ambush and surrounded on all sides by the National Army and its pro-Franco troops. Bielsa and numerous other towns and villages suffered during the fighting. The Republican soldiers managed to hold out for several months before they and a large proportion of the civilian population crossed the Pyrenees to seek refuge in France.

The Franco dictatorship

The years of General Franco's rule were very hard and difficult, especially at the beginning. Hunger and poverty were rife in Spain and the limited amount of food available could only be purchased if you had a rationing card.

In 1954, the country embarked on the slow path to modernisation, which resulted in ever greater migration and increasing rural depopulation.

The harsh conditions of life and the lack of any official support for people living in the countryside meant that many of the farmers and labourers eking out an existence up in the mountains were forced, yet again, to migrate. In addition, the planning or construction of reservoirs had a severely damaging impact on people's lives and the economy in this mountainous region.


In the 1960s and 70s, there was a climate of uncertainty in Sobrarbe.


The democratic process that began in Spain in 1977 gave regions or districts like ours new possibilities.

At this time, the agricultural and animal husbandry sector was in deep recession and there was virtually no industry whatsoever, and so it was the services sector that relaunched the economy in the 1980s.

The population rose slightly and tourism started to develop. The mountains and their natural attractions, the new appreciation of and interest in agriculturalist and pastoralist culture and popular traditions, and the almost unspoiled spectacular landscape in the district made these peaks and valleys the holiday destination of choice for thousands upon thousands of people from Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

In the 1970s, 50 years after the Ordesa Valley was declared a national park, the plan to build a reservoir threatened to flood the Añisclo Valley. Fortunately, the passion of the popular demonstrations calling for the protection of these iconic mountains and their natural spaces, and the expressions of concern by various social and political figures resulted in the expansion of the national park to include Añisclo, Escuaín, Pineta and the Treserols massif.

In 1997, UNESCO listed the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido area as a World Heritage Site encompassing this area and the central sector of the Pyrenees National Park (France).

When Spain was divided into autonomous communities, a process of subdivision into districts (known in Spanish as comarcas) began. Sobrarbe District Council, based in Boltaña, carries out collaboration programmes covering a number of issues together with the neighbouring valleys of the Aure, Louron and Barèges, thereby continuing an ancient tradition of cross-border relations.

In 2006, the entire territory of the Sobrarbe district was recognised as the Sobrarbe Geopark. Pyrenees Geological Park.