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.
Serengeti, Great Savannah Migration, Tanzania, wildebeest on river
Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

In these prairies that the Masai people say syringet (run forever), millions of wildebeests and other herbivores chase the rains. For predators, their arrival and that of the monsoon are the same salvation.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Music Theater and Exhibition Hall, Tbilisi, Georgia
Architecture & Design
Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Tibetan heights, altitude sickness, mountain prevent to treat, travel

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
Newar celebration, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Ceremonies and Festivities
Bhaktapur, Nepal

The Nepalese Masks of Life

The Newar Indigenous People of the Kathmandu Valley attach great importance to the Hindu and Buddhist religiosity that unites them with each other and with the Earth. Accordingly, he blesses their rites of passage with newar dances of men masked as deities. Even if repeated long ago from birth to reincarnation, these ancestral dances do not elude modernity and begin to see an end.
Moscow, Kremlin, Red Square, Russia, Moscow River
Moscow, Russia

The Supreme Fortress of Russia

There were many kremlins built, over time, in the vastness of the country of the tsars. None stands out, as monumental as that of the capital Moscow, a historic center of despotism and arrogance that, from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin, for better or worse, dictated Russia's destiny.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Hungduan, Philippines

Country Style Philippines

The GI's left with the end of World War II, but the music from the interior of the USA that they heard still enlivens the Cordillera de Luzon. It's by tricycle and at your own pace that we visit the Hungduan rice terraces.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

Although played since 1841, Australian Football has only conquered part of the big island. Internationalization has never gone beyond paper, held back by competition from rugby and classical football.
Creel, Chihuahua, Carlos Venzor, collector, museum
Chihuahua a Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico

On Creel's Way

With Chihuahua behind, we point to the southwest and to even higher lands in the north of Mexico. Next to Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, we visited a Mennonite elder. Around Creel, we lived for the first time with the Rarámuri indigenous community of the Serra de Tarahumara.
Karanga ethnic musicians join the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Great ZimbabweZimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe, Little Bira Dance

Karanga natives of the KwaNemamwa village display traditional Bira dances to privileged visitors to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. the most iconic place in Zimbabwe, the one who, after the decree of colonial Rhodesia's independence, inspired the name of the new and problematic nation.  
Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

days like so many others

Trycicles, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Filipinos
Bacolod, Philippines

Sweet Philippines

Bacolod is the capital of Negros, the island at the center of Philippine sugar cane production. Traveling through the Far East and between history and contemporaneity, we savor the fascinating heart of the most Latin of Asia.
tarsio, bohol, philippines, out of this world
Bohol, Philippines

Other-wordly Philippines

The Philippine archipelago spans 300.000 km² of the Pacific Ocean. Part of the Visayas sub-archipelago, Bohol is home to small alien-looking primates and the extraterrestrial hills of the Chocolate Hills.
Correspondence verification
Winter White
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.
Almada Negreiros, Roça Saudade, Sao Tome
Saudade, São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

Almada Negreiros: From Saudade to Eternity

Almada Negreiros was born in April 1893, on a farm in the interior of São Tomé. Upon discovering his origins, we believe that the luxuriant exuberance in which he began to grow oxygenated his fruitful creativity.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
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.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
Natural Parks
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Travel Korea, Color Maneuvers
UNESCO World Heritage
Alone, South Korea

A Glimpse of Medieval Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace stands guarded by guardians in silken robes. Together they form a symbol of South Korean identity. Without waiting for it, we ended up finding ourselves in the imperial era of these Asian places.
now from above ladder, sorcerer of new zealand, Christchurch, new zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand's Cursed Wizard

Despite his notoriety in the antipodes, Ian Channell, the New Zealand sorcerer, failed to predict or prevent several earthquakes that struck Christchurch. At the age of 88, after 23 years of contract with the city, he made very controversial statements and ended up fired.
Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
self-flagellation, passion of christ, philippines
Marinduque, Philippines

The Philippine Passion of Christ

No nation around is Catholic but many Filipinos are not intimidated. In Holy Week, they surrender to the belief inherited from the Spanish colonists. Self-flagellation becomes a bloody test of faith
Back in the sun. San Francisco Cable Cars, Life Ups and Downs
On Rails
San Francisco, USA

San Francisco Cable Cars: A Life of Highs and Lows

A macabre wagon accident inspired the San Francisco cable car saga. Today, these relics work as a charm operation in the city of fog, but they also have their risks.
patpong, go go bar, bangkok, one thousand and one nights, thailand
Bangkok, Thailand

One Thousand and One Lost Nights

In 1984, Murray Head sang the nighttime magic and bipolarity of the Thai capital in "One night in bangkok". Several years, coups d'etat, and demonstrations later, Bangkok remains sleepless.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Daily life
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
female and cub, grizzly footsteps, katmai national park, alaska
PN Katmai, Alaska

In the Footsteps of the Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell spent summers on end with the bears of Katmai. Traveling through Alaska, we followed some of its trails, but unlike the species' crazy protector, we never went too far.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.