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.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Thorong Pedi to High Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Lone Walker
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 12th - Thorong Phedi a High camp

The Prelude to the Supreme Crossing

This section of the Annapurna Circuit is only 1km away, but in less than two hours it takes you from 4450m to 4850m and to the entrance to the great canyon. Sleeping in High Camp is a test of resistance to Mountain Evil that not everyone passes.
Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Architecture & Design
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

Traveling through New Mexico, we were dazzled by the two versions of Taos, that of the indigenous adobe hamlet of Taos Pueblo, one of the towns of the USA inhabited for longer and continuously. And that of Taos city that the Spanish conquerors bequeathed to the Mexico: Mexico gave in to United States and that a creative community of native descendants and migrated artists enhance and continue to praise.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Native Americans Parade, Pow Pow, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Ceremonies and Festivities
Albuquerque, USA

When the Drums Sound, the Indians Resist

With more than 500 tribes present, the pow wow "Gathering of the Nations" celebrates the sacred remnants of Native American cultures. But it also reveals the damage inflicted by colonizing civilization.
Tiredness in shades of green
Suzdal, Russia

The Suzdal Cucumber Celebrations

With summer and warm weather, the Russian city of Suzdal relaxes from its ancient religious orthodoxy. The old town is also famous for having the best cucumbers in the nation. When July arrives, it turns the newly harvested into a real festival.
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
Casa Menezes Braganca, Chandor, Goa, India
Chandor, Goa, India

A True Goan-Portuguese House

A mansion with Portuguese architectural influence, Casa Menezes Bragança, stands out from the houses of Chandor, in Goa. It forms a legacy of one of the most powerful families in the former province. Both from its rise in a strategic alliance with the Portuguese administration and from the later Goan nationalism.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Composition on Nine Arches Bridge, Ella, Sri Lanka
Yala NPElla-Kandy, Sri Lanka

Journey Through Sri Lanka's Tea Core

We leave the seafront of PN Yala towards Ella. On the way to Nanu Oya, we wind on rails through the jungle, among plantations in the famous Ceylon. Three hours later, again by car, we enter Kandy, the Buddhist capital that the Portuguese never managed to dominate.
Network launch, Ouvéa Island-Lealdade Islands, New Caledonia
Ouvéa, New Caledonia

Between Loyalty and Freedom

New Caledonia has always questioned integration into faraway France. On the island of Ouvéa, Loyalty Archipelago, we find an history of resistance but also natives who prefer French-speaking citizenship and privileges.
Rainbow in the Grand Canyon, an example of prodigious photographic light
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 1)

And Light was made on Earth. Know how to use it.

The theme of light in photography is inexhaustible. In this article, we give you some basic notions about your behavior, to start with, just and only in terms of geolocation, the time of day and the time of year.
Blue Hole, Gozo Island, Malta
Gozo, Malta

Mediterranean Days of Utter Joy

The island of Gozo is a third the size of Malta but only thirty of the small nation's three hundred thousand inhabitants. In duo with Comino's beach recreation, it houses a more down-to-earth and serene version of the always peculiar Maltese life.
Ilhéu do Farol, Porto Santo, Ilhéu de Cima, Porto Santo, facing Ponta do Passo.
Ilhéu de Cima, Porto Santo, Portugal

The First Light of Who Navigates From Above

It is part of the group of six islets around the island of Porto Santo, but it is far from being just one more. Even though it is the eastern threshold of the Madeira archipelago, it is the island closest to Portosantenses. At night, it also makes the fanal that confirms the right course for ships coming from Europe.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
silhouette and poem, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil
Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer

Born in Goiás, Ana Lins Bretas spent most of her life far from her castrating family and the city. Returning to its origins, it continued to portray the prejudiced mentality of the Brazilian countryside
Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States,
PN Joshua Tree, California, United States

The Arms stretched out to Heaven of the PN Joshua Tree

Arriving in the extreme south of California, we are amazed by the countless Joshua trees that sprout from the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Like the Mormon settlers who named them, we cross and praise these inhospitable settings of the North American Far West.
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.
Natural Parks
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.
Ruins, Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia
UNESCO World Heritage
Discovering Tassie, Part 2 - Hobart to Port Arthur, Australia

An Island Doomed to Crime

The prison complex at Port Arthur has always frightened the British outcasts. 90 years after its closure, a heinous crime committed there forced Tasmania to return to its darkest times.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Cable car connecting Puerto Plata to the top of PN Isabel de Torres
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Home Silver

Puerto Plata resulted from the abandonment of La Isabela, the second attempt at a Hispanic colony in the Americas. Almost half a millennium after Columbus's landing, it inaugurated the nation's inexorable tourist phenomenon. In a lightning passage through the province, we see how the sea, the mountains, the people and the Caribbean sun keep it shining.
orthodox procession
Suzdal, Russia

Centuries of Devotion to a Devoted Monk

Euthymius was a fourteenth-century Russian ascetic who gave himself body and soul to God. His faith inspired Suzdal's religiosity. The city's believers worship him as the saint he has become.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
herd, foot-and-mouth disease, weak meat, colonia pellegrini, argentina
Daily life
Colónia Pellegrini, Argentina

When the Meat is Weak

The unmistakable flavor of Argentine beef is well known. But this wealth is more vulnerable than you think. The threat of foot-and-mouth disease, in particular, keeps authorities and growers afloat.
Newborn turtle, PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

A Night at the Nursery of Tortuguero

The name of the Tortuguero region has an obvious and ancient reason. Turtles from the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea have long flocked to the black sand beaches of its narrow coastline to spawn. On one of the nights we spent in Tortuguero we watched their frenzied births.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.