Mingot house is a good example of one of the sunny houses that make up the special urban combination of Anciles’ village (Ansils in Patués, local language).
In one of its windows there is a date from 1581 but written documents dated from 1490 have been found concerning the Mingot House.
The view of Mingot House from the church Square is a bit stern and it is deceptive because the other buildings do not allow the real size of Mingot House to be sensed.
The house can be entered through an old main entry with a round arch. On the top of it you can see a polychromatic shield that implies that Mingot House is a noble house. The round arch is delimited by a keystone that only shows half its real size.
From this wooden main entry one can access a porch to the lower patio. If one looks straight, some thick stairs especially appropriate for mountain men, nearly for giants. When one turns left one will be surprised with one of the most beautiful views of Mingot House: a magnificent three level horseshoe shaped building where the stone predominate.
The whole building has some lightness due to the presence of a very big arch, over which there is a 16th century window, and over it there is a very beautiful large window finished off with a yucana.
The era (the typical patio made of pebbles) takes one to the essence of a lot of houses of the Pyrenees: an enclosure, some stables and a home. The era was a closed space to protect the most valuable thing, the flock of cows.
In the buildings were the stables, and for a practical sense the housing was above the stables to have “natural” heat in such a rural area. Everything was done to be the most self-sufficient as possible.
Unlike other houses in Anciles its size and the defence tower are important, although these will be spoken about later on.
The era has a floor made of pebbles very consciously joined one by one, called rullau in Patués, the local language.
Under the big arch there is a porch that has been a fundamental space for the animal killing and it is now used as a wine cellar distributor, old stables(where the Yegües apartments are) and large stairs made of stones. In one of the lateral sides of the hall there is a big wooden chest made from a big emptied trunk that was used to put salt inside with the meat to preserve it kin the past.
If one looks on the floor, exactly where the stairs start, one can see one of the house’s shield icon, a big heart drawn with pebbles.
The steps of the stairs are more than two metres long and it was made in just one piece. It´s very surprising how they could have been placed without the use of machines. The solution: a lot of ingenuity and some well trained oxes. It was all finished off with a very nice wooden stair rail worked painstakingly by the woodcraftsmen.
When one goes up the stairs one can access the hall where one gets taken back some centuries ago. This space was also used as a hall to distribute to the kitchen and the noble living room. This is a very nice and old space with an irregular wooden floor with wide pieces like trees nailed on the floor with big and rusty nails. There is an amazing corner cupboard with carving decorations and some old decorative elements led by the shield of the house again but in this case painted in a big and old picture.
This is to emphasize the importance of the house that goes farther than the individual people and how the transition of the house was organized to maintain the productive unity as a (shepherd-calling) system that has made up the Pyrenees’’ landscape.
The kitchen was the centre of the house, the place where the fireplace was: the fire, the heat, where the copper pots were hanging all day and where the recau (a typical vegetable and beef stew) was cooked.
In this case the fireplace was 3 x 4 metres, where all the family and the house servants gathered. The kitchen was rebuilt in the 70s but the fireplace structure is still there.
The noble living-room is one of the typical elements of Mingot House. This space shows the most majestic character of the house where the guests were sat and of course enjoyed the traditional hot chocolate. Because of this the people from Anciles are called Chocolateros (people who love and eat chocolate).
A lot of the furniture of these living-rooms came from France, and it was carried through the ports when it was possible with the snow. The ports: Biello, Glera, Portillón or Picada have seen a lot of horse-trailers pass by doing the route from Bagnheres de Luchón. We have to bear in mind that the Benasque Valley was badly communicated in comparison to the (tierra baja) such as Graus, with France.
To access the other flat you have to take the next staircase with the same dimensions as the stone one but in this case it is made of wood. This one stands out for its creaking noise. In the landing there are another two wooden corner cupboards where there is a tall window and a slightly decrepit frame of a marine creating an authentic combination.
In the next floor you can see one of the best views of the village from the window picture, the Suprián Tower with Chia’s mountain in the background.
This space is called “Andador” which means the “Walker area” and it was because this space was where the old people walked in the winter period as the streets were full of snow and ice so it was very dangerous. In the past this open-air space was used as the washing and drying place that the inhabitants of the house used to cross each day and night to access the bedrooms (what is now the alojamiento d’alto). The walker is now glassed by a very big window where all the Mingot House can be seen finished off by the presence of the impressive 18th century defence tower of Suprián House. Suprián del siglo XVIII.
The staircase continues to be able to access the lofts and other important elements such as the pigeon loft.
If we redo the track by the doorway but instead of entering we follow the road, everything on the right-hand side is Mingot House, this is when one realizes the dimensions it has. When going up one finds a small arched door which no one seems to give it much importance and is hardly looked at as the road is quite narrow, but it is advisable to stop and use the neck to be able to guess where the defence tower of Mingot House used to be. The cornered stones between the noble house and the mentioned tower define its setting. Now there are windows in each landing which is why it is a bit difficult to get an idea of its old defensive use. This is another useful element that allows us to put in context the life conditions of the 16th century in which it was essential to have a defence tower and an closed space to avoid bandits’ attacks.
Before getting to the corner, another doorway marks where the bread oven that used to occupy part of the actual street used to be.
When turning in the last corner an arch made of rough stone can be seen. This one came from the old monastery of Lavaixcan which drowned as some others by the hydroelectric works that were the way the industrialisation landed in this area of the Pyrenees. The arch delimits what the house is with a group of L shape huts. This arch which used to be protected by a great wooden door is now delimited by a forge door which gives access to the top closed space that shelters the previously mentioned huts and other agricultural dependencies of the last period in which the milk exploitation had been the second last farm option in the valley.
In the background there is another closed space that had been another old hut and a small yard protected by rosebushes finishes off this spectacular set.
Mingot House is a group that still preserves the old sense of a stately house in which we hope that after entering you will go back some centuries in time and you will be able to calmly enjoy it.