Due to its spectacular location at a height of 631 metres, La Candelera is an authentic natural balcony from which to observe the villages of Somontano; Hoz de Barbastro, the uninhabited hamlet of Guardia, Coscojuela de Fantova, Cregenzán, Burceat, Olvena, Estadilla, Fonz and Salas Bajas. It also boasts magnificent views of the peaks of Turbón, San Gervás and Buñero as well as the mountain ranges of Sis, Estada and La Carrodilla.

According to local tradition there was once a Moorish castle standing on the site of the current chapel, although the first documented evidence of a fortress was in the medieval era. If legend is true, then the Muslim fortress must have played an important role during the Christian conquest of Barbastro by Pedro I in 1101.

There are scant remains of the original Romanesque church; the north wall, the cantilevers that supported the cornice and the foundations of the old temple. Inside, two funeral steles made from sandstone are indicative of the rich history of this place.

The Virgen de Candelera, patron saint of the village, has been worshipped here for centuries. The white marble statue that can be seen today replaced the original, which was destroyed in the civil war. The original statue was said to be responsible for a number of wonders such as its ability to sweat and miracles such as bringing about the end of the drought. In the past, people for the villages of Salas Altas, Salas Bajas, Huerta, Pozán, Castillazuelo, Cregenzán, Guardia and Hoz de Barbastro would come here to pray.

The chapel of La Candelera jealously guards evidence of its historic past and reveals traces that include an Iberian settlement and a medieval village. Further signs come in the form of the funeral steles, rock tombs and the remains of an ancient wall. The echoes of distant legends of kings and Moorish princesses that once occupied this spot can still be heard.

The statue of the Virgin Mary has been worshipped here since the first centuries of the Middle Ages. Her worship extended across the whole of the peninsula and reached nobles and kings such as Alfonso X the Wise, whose poems make reference to her miracles. Tradition tells that during the reign of Doña Sancha, the Romanesque statue was lifted by angles to the shrine of Nuestra Señora de Salas in Huesca.The bells of La Candelera tower (the medium bell of Santa Bárbara weighing 650kg, the small bell or Dominguera weighing 428kg and the large bell or Las Candelas weighing 900kg) were used over centuries to communicate with the villages. The told of a death, a fire, a fiesta, a missing person and advised the time throughout the day and the start of mass.

Even today on fiesta days, young people climb the bell tower to ring the bells with great joy and respect. This centuries old tradition in passed from father to son to announce a “big day” in Salas Altas.


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