Matarraña to Alcanar, Spain (España)

A Medieval Spain


Gothic couple
Statues stand out from the Gothic architecture of the church of Santa Maria Mayor, the main Catholic temple in Valderrobres.
Dorado de Matarraña
Night lighting highlights the golden color of the main buildings in the central square of Valderrobres.
a subject of time
Visitor walks through a shady wing of the old castle of Valderrobres.
Gran La Fresneda
Dense and old house that fills the gentle slope on which La Fresneda was installed.
up street
Idoso struggles to climb a steep slope in Valderrobres.
by the river
Typical balconies of the houses on the banks of the Valderrobres river.
faith in the heights
The Chapel of Santa Bárbara, in the vicinity of La Fresneda.
Sheltered Commerce
Salesman and customer in a traditional grocery store named M.Manero, in La Morella.
Sheep Shapes
Herd of compact sheep grazes in the vicinity of La Fresneda.
power in the heights
Medieval castle overlaps the old houses of La Morella, a walled city of the Valencian community.
Valderrobres from Far
Two Ecuadorian emigrants living in Valderrobres sunbathe on the town's medieval bridge.
In Maestrazgo
Elevated cliffs of El Maestrazgo, in the interior of the province of Aragon.
salty sunset
Day ends and the large salt marshes around Alcanar are dyed pink.
Middle Age Urbanism
Casario de Valderrobres crowned by its most imposing medieval building, the castle.
Gran La Fresneda II
A section of dense and old houses that fills the gentle slope on which La Fresneda was installed.
aragon on fire
Sun sets with great chromatic impact on the rocky surface of El Maestrazgo, in southern Aragon.

Traveling through the lands of Aragon and Valencia, we come across towers and detached battlements of houses that fill the slopes. Mile after kilometer, these visions prove to be as anachronistic as they are fascinating.

Marking the zero kilometer of a trip to an old train station has to be told. The privilege went to La Parada del Compte, near Torre del Compte which, in 1973, after almost two centuries of receiving the train from La Val de Zafán, was decorated with a sign “Station closed a la Circulation” and doomed to abandonment.

As in Portugal, in Spain, these railway injustices had long since passed into history, but as they strolled through the Matarraña region, José Maria Naranjo and Pilar Vilés stopped in the area, marveled at the surrounding landscape and seized the opportunity. José Maria was himself part of a fourth generation of railway workers. Upon learning of the liquidation carried out by RENFE and with some support from the Government of Aragon, he set out at full speed for the project of transforming the ruin in a short time into a station of the senses.

The natural framing helped. The new Parada del Compte hotel is surrounded by Mediterranean flora and fauna, refreshed by the Ribeira del Matarraña that maintains the green fields and quenches the thirst of the flocks that usually visit them. The more distant views are also not far behind. To the southeast, vast olive groves and pine forests. To the south, the village of Torre del Compte and the Ports de Beceit-Tortosa, a rugged mountain range.

Despite the physical and spiritual comfort provided by the Parada del Compte, it was time to get back on the road. The trip we had embarked on was another one, made in time. Around us, the region of Matarraña awaited us, a medieval stronghold irrigated by the homonymous river and its tributaries in lands of olive and almond trees that insisted on resisting the invasion of the great Spanish public.

The car's engine doesn't even heat up when the first stop is justified. We have Torre del Compte ahead of us and, even without a maiden to save, it seems impossible to escape the appeal.

The village appears, as if in balance, on top of a 500 meter high slope. It conserves a good part of its walled enclosure and one of the six primitive access doors. One of these doors, San Roque, leads to the street with the same name, one of the most beautiful in the village, bordered by whitewashed manor houses and upper floors with arched galleries.

We walked through it from beginning to end, passing a fruit and vegetable vendor, the façade of the church and other less imposing ones. After risking a detour or another, we found the viewpoint we were looking for, over the valley of the Matarraña river. We appreciate the landscape when a place asks us: “Is there a drought there too?”.

in these people, the news jumps from balcony to balcony and the information that we were Portuguese given, half an hour ago, in a short conversation at the entrance to the village, almost overtook us on the way to the other end. "It's more or less like here." we reciprocate. For now, nothing special. When we get closer to summer it will be seen.” The answer seemed to leave the interlocutor intrigued.

We return to the asphalt with the plan to visit the capital of the region, Valderrobres, not before making a strategic stopover in La Fresneda. The stretch there is short but it confirms that, on these sides, countryside and villages still have their own spaces. We go wherever we go, curve after curve, endless orchards and more olive groves and almond groves. Apart, like someone who has nothing to do with the bucolic setting and just continues to scan the horizon in search of infidel armies, there are the forts, the towers of the churches and their houses. 

La Fresneda resulted from the coexistence of the military orders del Temple and Calatrava and the nun de los Mínimos, in a territory where, despite the presence of the Holy Inquisition, Muslims and Jews also ended up fitting.

Side by side with all its beauty, grandeur and historical authenticity, from that past of fragile separation between light and darkness, there is still a mystical atmosphere. It is sheltered in the various churches and in the hermitage of Santa Bárbara (isolated in a desert and protected by centenary cypresses) and reaches its peak in the Consistorial House, whose lower levels hide the most terrifying prison in the region. It is a classification that is only disdained until it is known that its dungeons are formed by several levels interconnected by a trapdoor, through which the executioners threw the prisoners, from a great height, to the deepest part. Here, the famous “I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition” from the Monty Python troupe, would make even less sense. 

We return to the light and the road. Shortly thereafter, we glimpse the soaring contours of the inevitable local castle and church. In addition to the capital, Valderrobres is the heart of the region. The city is divided into two by the same Matarraña who has been accompanying us. On one bank is the monumental old town, on the other, the modern annex. Joining them is an elegant stone bridge that leads to the fortress's gate, where a double function is easily detected.

Above the arch, in its stone niche, is a St. Roque pilgrim who, with his left knee uncovered (a sign of Gnostic knowledge), has been welcoming those who come for centuries for centuries. A few meters above, there is a dog choke, strategically placed for the company to demotivate enemy armies, whether faithful or infidel. Everything indicates that, in these times of peace and tourism, it is the saint who has the most work. After passing the door, you discover the Plaza Mayor and, in it, esplanades full of visitors and people from Valderrobres in the middle of a feast.

Next door is the Fonda de la Plaza, a typical inn-restaurant where Trini Gil and Sebastian Gea continue to honor the centuries-old tradition of the fonda (a kind of medieval inn) and the title of oldest building in Valderrobres. As any native would be ready to confirm, they fulfill their purpose perfectly. “Every day, we serve endless trays of the best delicacies in the county!” The menu makes it very clear which they are talking about: pickled cone, rellena back or roasted tenderloin that, if the customer agrees, they leave accompanied by the best wines in the region and are followed by divine desserts: Almendrats, casquets or melocoton al vino.

To take the price of this genuine restaurant to the extreme, it should be clarified that, in Matarraña, fondas are almost an institution. Over time, they always occupied places at the base of villages, where they spared travelers the steep climbs and ensured warmth, good food and company.

We leave the Plaza Mayor behind and head into the alleys of Valderrobres that alternate with stairs on our way to the top of the slope. A few more steps and the summit appears, crushed by the dominant presence of the castle-palace and the Gothic church of Santa Maria. We arrived just in time for an unguided tour, enriched by an unceremonious sunset. With the end of the day, the palace closes. 

At night, we pass Fuentespalda towards Monroyo. Nine kilometers later, we cut to Rafales. As we expected, Ráfales turns out to be another pueblo on top of a hill, with an immaculate old town, in which the Plaza Mayor, churches and a Consistorial House with more dungeons stand out. 

Everything that is too much makes you sick and, as such, the next morning, we decided to explore a little of the countryside surroundings. We cross the village with the aim to peek the limit of El Straits, an impressive mass of rock, the kind that only climbers know how to appreciate. Where are we from, see each other the cliffs, but the distance deprives them of grandeur. We changed plans. we decided to leave Matarraña and let's go direct for there Morella, province of CastellonHis Inuous, this path goes through dense pine forests and, ahead, it has to overcome the slopes of the El maestrazgo, in an area that the altitude becomes cold and inhospitable.

After a long climb, 25 km after Monroyo, he finally comes across what, in the desert, could be a mirage. More than 1000 meters above sea level, as if crowning a hill, there is a rough castle with several levels of walls that adapt to the shapes of a rocky base. 

We are obliged to recognize that, in this way, the description had not departed far enough from what we had come to find, and whose repetition made us hasten Rafale's visit. However, due to the epic sumptuousness of the framing, Morella managed to activate, once again, the medieval imagination.  

Jon foot, à As we approached the walls, we couldn't resist catching a glimpse of Moorish armies on the innumerable newly arrived bus tours. We quickened our pace to see if we could still appreciate the city before the invasion.

The differences stand out. Perhaps due to the longer Muslim domination (until 1232), the houses are white and, because the slope gently spreads, the streets and squares are somewhat wider and airier. You can also feel the tourism finger. Contrary to what was happening in Matarraña, stores of souvenirs shop not lacking. We peek at the postcards. There is one in particular that catches our attention: Morella nevada. It looks doubly fascinating. We started to magic a winter return. “The zone is high and freezing for most of the year. Catching it with snow shouldn't be complicated.” It's another project to return to the list. This one should go in there for fiftieth place. Even so, you never know.

Back to reality, we find that it's time for a change of air again. The last night was scheduled for the coast. From Morella to there we drive 65 km which we only stop once or twice to photograph from the side of the road. We head towards Vinaròs whose center we avoid and continue towards Alcanar. At km 1059 of such a rue N-340, we come across the small sign of Finca Tancat de Codorniu. The detour leads to a sea of ​​orange groves that obscure the view of the Mediterranean and everything else, but the narrow road there leaves us in the right place. We ended up entering an old summer mansion owned by Alfonso XII, a Borbón that, in the XNUMXth century, acquired the nickname of Pacificador.

Medieval Spain had left us to its knees. We followed the king's motto and dedicated ourselves to peace and rest. 

Big Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe, Endless Mystery

Between the 1500th and XNUMXth centuries, Bantu peoples built what became the largest medieval city in sub-Saharan Africa. From XNUMX onwards, with the passage of the first Portuguese explorers arriving from Mozambique, the city was already in decline. Its ruins, which inspired the name of the present-day Zimbabwean nation, have many unanswered questions.  

Valencia to Xativa, Spain (España)

Across Iberia

Leaving aside the modernity of Valencia, we explore the natural and historical settings that the "community" shares with the Mediterranean. The more we travel, the more its bright life seduces us.

La Palma, Canary IslandsSpain (España)

The Most Mediatic of the Cataclysms to Happen

The BBC reported that the collapse of a volcanic slope on the island of La Palma could generate a mega-tsunami. Whenever the area's volcanic activity increases, the media take the opportunity to scare the world.
Castles and Fortresses

The World to Defense - Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
Magome-Tsumago, Japan

Magome to Tsumago: The Overcrowded Path to the Medieval Japan

In 1603, the Tokugawa shogun dictated the renovation of an ancient road system. Today, the most famous stretch of the road that linked Edo to Kyoto is covered by a mob eager to escape.
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

Fuerteventura's Atlantic Ventura

The Romans knew the Canaries as the lucky islands. Fuerteventura, preserves many of the attributes of that time. Its perfect beaches for the windsurf and the kite-surfing or just for bathing, they justify successive “invasions” by the sun-hungry northern peoples. In the volcanic and rugged interior, the bastion of the island's indigenous and colonial cultures remains. We started to unravel it along its long south.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands

To César Manrique what is César Manrique's

By itself, Lanzarote would always be a Canaria by itself, but it is almost impossible to explore it without discovering the restless and activist genius of one of its prodigal sons. César Manrique passed away nearly thirty years ago. The prolific work he left shines on the lava of the volcanic island that saw him born.
El Hierro, Canary Islands

The Volcanic Rim of the Canaries and the Old World

Until Columbus arrived in the Americas, El Hierro was seen as the threshold of the known world and, for a time, the Meridian that delimited it. Half a millennium later, the last western island of the Canaries is teeming with exuberant volcanism.
La Graciosa, Canary Islands

The Most Graceful of the Canary Islands

Until 2018, the smallest of the inhabited Canaries did not count for the archipelago. Arriving in La Graciosa, we discover the insular charm of the now eighth island.
PN Timanfaya, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

PN Timanfaya and the Fire Mountains of Lanzarote

Between 1730 and 1736, out of nowhere, dozens of volcanoes in Lanzarote erupted successively. The massive amount of lava they released buried several villages and forced almost half of the inhabitants to emigrate. The legacy of this cataclysm is the current Martian setting of the exuberant PN Timanfaya.
Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Volcano that Haunts the Atlantic

At 3718m, El Teide is the roof of the Canaries and Spain. Not only. If measured from the ocean floor (7500 m), only two mountains are more pronounced. The Guanche natives considered it the home of Guayota, their devil. Anyone traveling to Tenerife knows that old Teide is everywhere.
La Palma, Canary Islands

The "Isla Bonita" of the Canary Islands

In 1986 Madonna Louise Ciccone launched a hit that popularized the attraction exerted by a island imaginary. Ambergris Caye, in Belize, reaped benefits. On this side of the Atlantic, the palmeros that's how they see their real and stunning Canaria.
Vegueta, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Around the Heart of the Royal Canaries

The old and majestic Vegueta de Las Palmas district stands out in the long and complex Hispanization of the Canaries. After a long period of noble expeditions, the final conquest of Gran Canaria and the remaining islands of the archipelago began there, under the command of the monarchs of Castile and Aragon.
Tenerife, Canary Islands

East of White Mountain Island

The almost triangular Tenerife has its center dominated by the majestic volcano Teide. At its eastern end, there is another rugged domain, even so, the place of the island's capital and other unavoidable villages, with mysterious forests and incredible abrupt coastlines.
Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

Grand Canary Islands

It is only the third largest island in the archipelago. It so impressed European navigators and settlers that they got used to treating it as the supreme.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

José Saramago's Basalt Raft

In 1993, frustrated by the Portuguese government's disregard for his work “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, Saramago moved with his wife Pilar del Río to Lanzarote. Back on this somewhat extraterrestrial Canary Island, we visited his home. And the refuge from the portuguese censorship that haunted the writer.
Esteros del Iberá, Pantanal Argentina, Alligator
Safari
Iberá Wetlands, Argentina

The Pantanal of the Pampas

On the world map, south of the famous brazilian wetland, a little-known flooded region appears, but almost as vast and rich in biodiversity. the Guarani expression Y bera defines it as “shining waters”. The adjective fits more than its strong luminance.
Mount Lamjung Kailas Himal, Nepal, altitude sickness, mountain prevent treat, travel
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Banana.
holy plain, Bagan, Myanmar
Architecture & Design
Bagan, Myanmar

The Plain of Pagodas, Temples and other Heavenly Redemptions

Burmese religiosity has always been based on a commitment to redemption. In Bagan, wealthy and fearful believers continue to erect pagodas in hopes of winning the benevolence of the gods.
Adventure
Boat Trips

For Those Becoming Internet Sick

Hop on and let yourself go on unmissable boat trips like the Philippine archipelago of Bacuit and the frozen sea of ​​the Finnish Gulf of Bothnia.
Bertie in jalopy, Napier, New Zealand
Ceremonies and Festivities
Napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s

Devastated by an earthquake, Napier was rebuilt in an almost ground-floor Art Deco and lives pretending to stop in the Thirties. Its visitors surrender to the Great Gatsby atmosphere that the city enacts.
Athens, Greece, Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square
Cities
Athens, Greece

The City That Perpetuates the Metropolis

After three and a half millennia, Athens resists and prospers. From a belligerent city-state, it became the capital of the vast Hellenic nation. Modernized and sophisticated, it preserves, in a rocky core, the legacy of its glorious Classical Era.
Fogón de Lola, great food, Costa Rica, Guápiles
Meal
Fogón de Lola Costa Rica

The Flavor of Costa Rica of El Fogón de Lola

As the name suggests, the Fogón de Lola de Guapiles serves dishes prepared on the stove and in the oven, according to Costa Rican family tradition. In particular, Tia Lola's.
Sculptural Garden, Edward James, Xilitla, Huasteca Potosina, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Cobra dos Pecados
Culture
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Edward James' Mexican Delirium

In the rainforest of Xilitla, the restless mind of poet Edward James has twinned an eccentric home garden. Today, Xilitla is lauded as an Eden of the Surreal.
Sport
Competitions

Man: an Ever Tested Species

It's in our genes. For the pleasure of participating, for titles, honor or money, competitions give meaning to the world. Some are more eccentric than others.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Traveling
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Early morning on the lake
Ethnic

Nantou, Taiwan

In the Heart of the Other China

Nantou is Taiwan's only province isolated from the Pacific Ocean. Those who discover the mountainous heart of this region today tend to agree with the Portuguese navigators who named Taiwan Formosa.

sunlight photography, sun, lights
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 2)

One Sun, So Many Lights

Most travel photos are taken in sunlight. Sunlight and weather form a capricious interaction. Learn how to predict, detect and use at its best.
Tabatô, Guinea Bissau, tabanca Mandingo musicians. Baidi
History
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

The Tabanca of Mandinga Poets Musicians

In 1870, a community of traveling Mandingo musicians settled next to the current city of Bafatá. From the Tabatô they founded, their culture and, in particular, their prodigious balaphonists, dazzle the world.
Vanuatu, Cruise in Wala
Islands
Wala, Vanuatu

Cruise ship in Sight, the Fair Settles In

In much of Vanuatu, the days of the population's “good savages” are behind us. In times misunderstood and neglected, money gained value. And when the big ships with tourists arrive off Malekuka, the natives focus on Wala and billing.
Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

When, in mid-May, Iceland already enjoys some sun warmth but the cold and snow persist, the inhabitants give in to an intriguing summer anxiety.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Literature
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Salto Negao, chapada diamantina, bahia gema, brazil
Nature
Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Gem-stone Bahia

Until the end of the century. In the XNUMXth century, Chapada Diamantina was a land of immeasurable prospecting and ambitions. Now that diamonds are rare, outsiders are eager to discover its plateaus and underground galleries
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Autumn
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Thingvelir, Origins Democracy Iceland, Oxará
Natural Parks
Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

The Origins of the Remote Viking Democracy

The foundations of popular government that come to mind are the Hellenic ones. But what is believed to have been the world's first parliament was inaugurated in the middle of the XNUMXth century, in Iceland's icy interior.
Pilgrims at the top, Mount Sinai, Egypt
UNESCO World Heritage
Mount Sinai, Egypt

Strength in the Legs, Faith in God

Moses received the Ten Commandments on the summit of Mount Sinai and revealed them to the people of Israel. Today, hundreds of pilgrims climb, every night, the 4000 steps of that painful but mystical ascent.
Correspondence verification
Characters
Rovaniemi, Finland

From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
Tombolo and Punta Catedral, Manuel António National Park, Costa Rica
Beaches
PN Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Costa Rica's Little-Big National Park

The reasons for the under 28 are well known national parks Costa Ricans have become the most popular. The fauna and flora of PN Manuel António proliferate in a tiny and eccentric patch of jungle. As if that wasn't enough, it is limited to four of the best typical beaches.
Bride gets in car, traditional wedding, Meiji temple, Tokyo, Japan
Religion
Tokyo, Japan

A Matchmaking Sanctuary

Tokyo's Meiji Temple was erected to honor the deified spirits of one of the most influential couples in Japanese history. Over time, it specialized in celebrating traditional weddings.
Serra do Mar train, Paraná, airy view
On Rails
Curitiba a Morretes, Paraná, Brazil

Down Paraná, on Board the Train Serra do Mar

For more than two centuries, only a winding and narrow road connected Curitiba to the coast. Until, in 1885, a French company opened a 110 km railway. We walked along it to Morretes, the final station for passengers today. 40km from the original coastal terminus of Paranaguá.
Weddings in Jaffa, Israel,
Society
Jaffa, Israel

Where Tel Aviv Settles Always in Party

Tel Aviv is famous for the most intense night in the Middle East. But, if its youngsters are having fun until exhaustion in the clubs along the Mediterranean, it is more and more in the nearby Old Jaffa that they tie the knot.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Daily life
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
Sheep and hikers in Mykines, Faroe Islands
Wildlife
Mykines, Faroe Islands

In the Faeroes FarWest

Mykines establishes the western threshold of the Faroe archipelago. It housed 179 people but the harshness of the retreat got the better of it. Today, only nine souls survive there. When we visit it, we find the island given over to its thousand sheep and the restless colonies of puffins.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.