Huesca (Spanish: [ˈweska]; Aragonese: Uesca) is a city in north-eastern Spain, within the autonomous community of Aragon. It is also the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and of the comarca of Hoya de Huesca. In 2009 it had a population of 52,059, almost a quarter of the total population of the province. The city is one of the smallest provincial capitals in Spain.
Huesca celebrates its main festival, the Fiestas de San Lorenzo, in honor of Saint Lawrence, from the 9th to the 15th of August.
Huesca dates from pre-Roman times, and was once known as Bolskan in the ancient Iberian language. It was once the capital of the Vescetani, in the north of Hispania Tarraconensis, on the road from Tarraco (modern Tarragona) and Ilerda (modern Lleida) to Caesaraugusta (modern Zaragoza). During Roman times, the city was known as Osca, and was a Roman colony under the rule of Quintus Sertorius, who made Osca his base. The city minted its own coinage and was the site of a prestigious school founded by Sertorius to educate young Iberians in Latin and Roman customs. After Sertorius, it is thought that it was renamed Ileoscan (Ἰλεόσκαν) by Strabo. It appears to have been situated on silver mines.
Eighteenth-century Spanish historian Enrique Flórez has pointed out the impossibility of one city supplying such vast quantities of minted silver as has been recorded by ancient writers under the terms argentum Oscense, signatum Oscense; and is of the opinion that "Oscense" meant "Spanish", being a corruption of "Eus-cara". The Romanised city was made a municipium by decree of Augustus in 30 BC.
The Arabs conquered the city in the late 8th century, and the city came to be called Washqah (وشقة in Arabic), falling within the Upper March of the Emirate of Córdoba. It was ruled by a local governor appointed from Córdoba, but was repeatedly subject to political turmoil, rebellion and assassination as the Banu Qasi, Banu Amrus and Banu al-Tawil clans, as well as the Arista dynasty of Pamplona, struggled for control, autonomy and independence from the Emirate. In the mid-10th century, Wasqah was transferred to the Banu Tujib, who governed the Upper March from Zaragoza, and it became part of the Taifa of Zaragoza in 1018 when they successfully freed themselves from the disintegrating Caliphate. In 1094 Sancho Ramirez built the nearby Castle of Montearagón with the intention of laying siege to Wasqah but was killed by a stray arrow as he reached the city's walls. It was conquered in 1096 by Peter I of Aragon.
In 1354, King Peter IV of Aragon founded the University of Huesca, which initially had a faculty of theology. The school expanded, but by the end of the 16th century was eclipsed by the University of Zaragoza. The university was abolished in 1845.
During the Spanish Civil War (1936–39) the "Huesca Front" was the scene of some of the worst fighting between the Republicans and Franco's army. The city was besieged by the Republicans, George Orwell among them, but didn't fall.
Huesca celebrates its most important annual festival in August: the festival (or fiesta) of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence), a native of Huesca martyred in 268 AD. The anniversary of his martyrdom falls on August 10. The fiesta starts on 9 August and finishes on the 15. Many of the inhabitants dress in green and white for the duration.
San Lorenzo, born in Huesca, was a deacon in Rome and a martyr who, according to legend, was burned on a grille by the Romans. The grille is the symbol of San Lorenzo and can be seen in a number of decorative works in the city.
Huesca is also the birthplace of film director Carlos Saura and his brother Antonio Saura, a contemporary artist. There is an international film festival held annually.
The writer Oscar Sipan, winner of several literary prizes, was born in Huesca in 1974. The celebrated illustrator Isidro Ferrer, though born in Madrid, lives in the city.
Various streets in the centre of Huesca have recently been pedestrianised.
Huesca lies on a plateau in the northern region of Aragón, with an elevation of 488 m (1,601.05 ft) above sea level. Close to the city lie the Sierra de Guara mountains, which reach 2,077 m. The geographical coordinates of the city are: 42° 08´ N, 0° 24´ W.
Its municipal area is 161.02 km ² and borders the municipalities of Almudévar, Vicién, Monflorite-Lascasas Tierz, Quicena, Loporzano, Nueno, Igriés, Banastás, Chimillas, Alerre, Barbués and Albero Bajo.
The city lies 71 kilometres (44 mi) from Zaragoza, 160 kilometres (99 mi) from Pamplona, 118 kilometres (73 mi) from Lleida, 380 kilometres (236 mi) from Madrid and 273 kilometres (169 mi) from Barcelona.
Both the modern Coat of Arms of Huesca (es) (which date from the 16th century) and its mediaeval predecessor (from the 13th) include at their top the device of a block having a V-shaped notch. It is commonly said that it symbolises Salto de Roldán ('Roland's Leap'), a natural rock formation about 25 km (16 mi) north of the city. Some writers have suggested that the official Spanish name of Huesca (Catalan: Osca) derives from a Latin, Basque and Catalan word osca, meaning notch or indentation, referring to the Salto de Roldán.
Huesca has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa). with semi-arid influences. Winters are cool (with normal maximums from 8 to 16 °C and minimums from -2 to 6 °C) and summers are hot, with daily maximums reaching up to 35 °C (95 °F), while the rainiest seasons are autumn and spring. The average precipitation is 480 mm per year. Frost is common and there is sporadic snowfall, with an average of 3 snowy days per year.
A double line of ancient walls can still be seen in present-day Huesca.
Nearby, in the territory of Quicena, lie the ruins of the Castle of Montearagón Monastery.
Huesca is notable for the saying "Tomorrow we'll have coffee in Huesca", a running joke among militiamen of the Spanish Civil War. In February 1937, George Orwell was stationed near the falangist-held Huesca as a member of the POUM militia. In Homage to Catalonia, Orwell writes about this running joke, originally a naïvely optimistic comment made by one of the Spanish Republican generals:
Months earlier, when Siétamo was taken, the general commanding the Government troops had said gaily: "Tomorrow we'll have coffee in Huesca." It turned out that he was mistaken. There had been bloody attacks, but the town did not fall, and [the phrase] had become a standing joke throughout the army. If I ever go back to Spain I shall make a point of having a cup of coffee in Huesca.
Huesca is also famous for the legend of the Bell of Huesca.
The following are Sister cities of Huesca:
The Autovía A-23 runs through Huesca, connecting the city with Zaragoza. While under construction as of 2018, the Autovía A-22 also connects Huesca to Lleida. The two highways will eventually connect.
Huesca has been served by Huesca–Pirineos Airport since 1930, but the airport does not currently have any scheduled commercial passenger services.
Huesca railway station is served by regional and AVE trains to destinations including Zaragoza, Canfranc, Madrid and Jaca.
In 2018, SD Huesca, became the town's first football team to be promoted to La Liga. They became the 63rd team to play in the league, and their stadium's maximum capacity was the smallest in the 2018–19 La Liga.