The legend by the Greek mythology recounts that the name of the Pyrenees Mountains come from Pyrene, the daughter of Bebrex. The mountains would be a monuments built by Hercules to pay homage to his beloved Pyrene.
The Pyrenees separate today France from Spain and with their inhospitable peaks they create a physical barrier between Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe.
From the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea these mountains change, like people and communities that live the territory, but every rock, river and waterfall of the Pyrenees has a story to tell; over the centuries, these mountains have been crossed by armies and pilgrims, they offered an escape to refugees and minorities, the have been the scenario of epic wars, and violent dictatorships.
The Pyrenees saw the debacle of Charlemagne and the dead of Roland, hosted and protected mysterious peoples like the Basques and in the middle age, the mountains hided the Chatars, a religious group that protested against the corruption of the Catholic Church. The same routes used by the Chatars escaping from the Catholic persecutions, were used again by Spanish refugees fleeing the Civil War and, later on by the partisans fighting against the Nazi occupation.
With the creation of the European Union, the wars that have been crossing the Pyrenees ended and the region knew an unprecedented stability. However, the political system created after the Second World War appears very fragile. Despite the pacification of the Basque country and the disarmament of E.T.A., the region is still living a delicate period which would require a sense of unity frequently threatened by secessionist political movements that promote the ideia of an impossible unity within the difference.
On the top of the mountains, in the hidden valleys and in the remote villages, the European Union is felt like an absence; in the emptiness created by the lack of Institutions and resources to face the challenges poses by global capitalism, some communities and cultures are almost dying, affected by depopulation and massive exploitation of the territory. Nevertheless, in other places of the Pyrenees, the same emptiness is used to built something new and different, looking for new way to profit from the territory, respecting the environment, and thus to create a different society based on collaboration and new ideas of community.
As many borders, the Pyrenees are where the symptom of the "European sickness" can be more visible but are also the place where experimentation and new ideas are raising, a place from where a new energy to re-think the European unity could spread all over the continent.