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The Route Across the Maestrazgo. From the mountains to the sea
HEALTHY ROUTES

 

By MAYTE SUAREZ SANTOS
Journalist specialized in Medicine and Thermalism
Publisher of the electronic Magazine TermasWorld.com


Their houses hang from imposing cliffs, their history counts Arab legends and its situation makes of this area of Castellón, an endless route. A trip for the Maestrazgo is to enjoy an authentic " revival " of rural tourism in synergy with the tourism of health. To discover the essence of the ecology without giving up a remise in it forms in some Thermal Baths taken a bath by the Mediterranean. Unforgettable experiences, discovering medieval towns, springs and sources of water mining-medicinal with millennial taste and rupestrian art, declared Patrimony of the Humanity. It is to enjoy the Nature through a suggestive itinerary that will take us from the mountain to the sea

Map

 

To go into in the district of the Maestrazgo in the province of Castellon that extends up to the sea, is always an adventure for the traveller, and we want to live that experience. These lands are unique for all they possess, their old emblazoned mansions, monuments loaded with history, the works of art conserved in their municipal and ecclesiastical museums, the good table, springs and a SPA of millennial prestige and especially the nobility of their people manifested by their generous hospitality. 

The High Maestrazgo, lthe mountainous interior area, is not very well-known, due to its scarce access roads, although in the last years the rural tourism has blunted with force, braking an important depopulation. Albocácer, a village of 1.374 inhabitants, distant 53 Km from Castellón, is the first population of our itinerary. Located on a soft hill to 550 m of altitude, she settles in the skirt of a hill surrounded by almond trees and olive trees.

In the high part of the urban nucleus we park the off roads car and we walk toward the Plaza Mayor dominated by the City Hall and the Parochial Church. In the disposition of their layout we can distinguish the medieval structure. Their topography is easy, with wide and right streets that ascend or they are parallel to the square where there is a slender and beautiful steeple. It is rich in history. Their name corresponds to the Moorish king that governed the old farmstead. When going for a walk for their streets we rediscover those essences. 

Their people are simple and of open character, lovers of their traditions and cultures, the prove of this are it the numerous popular parties that are developed along the year. A festival cycle that begins in January with Sant Antoni's Festa, with the traditional monumental bonfire and the procession. It continue in spring with the pilgrimage to San Miquel, on second Sunday of May and the Patroness parties of August in honour of the Virgen de la Asunción. 

The Villa was ruled by the Arabs during many years, and it was King Jaime I, in 1237 who restored it to the Christian domain. In 1292 it was given to the Templarios that left there their mark here. We go into for their irregular streets, replete of balconies with anea blinds, until to find the palace built by the family Fuster in the XVIII century. Of the castle only remain some interesting ruins with patches of wall and some tower. 

Approximately at three kilometres from population's nucleus we find Ermitori Hospedería de Sant Pau (s. XV-XVIII). Here we make an stop to contemplate this group of buildings composed by a central body formed by the Church and the hostelry house and declared National Artistic Historical Monument. We also become amazed observing a gigantic ivy in the access arch to the square of the Ermitori and it constitutes an natural monument, unique in the province of Castellón. 

We walk with slight baggage since some friends of route expect us in several camping sites. This itinerary is designed to give us a bath in culture and another in the Mediterranean shore, where the breeze smells of sea. Although to arrive to that marine rest, we will before discover the rural charm that have the mountain towns, tasting the pleasure of living in an environment where the time is accomplice of a life without burdens, walking without running, with rhythm but without hurrying.

Valltorta Ravine

 

Albocácer was promote to the category of Villa during the domain of Artal de Alagón (1275-1293) but without a doubt its main historical reference is located in the Ravine de la Valltorta. And toward there we go circulating for a tortuous highway where an impressive deposit of rupestrian paintings is located. In the prehistory it was occupied by abundant forests and numerous rivers that had open natural roads through the ravines and at the present time they are dry. 

As we approach to the Museum, we evoke Alberto Roda's memory, neighbor of the area and who discovered in the year 1917 this artistic group unique in the world, an entire cultural prehistoric stronghold hidden in the shelters of the Ravine. Located to a considerable height in the walls of a valley, their location is really unlikely, and we wonder how its residents accede to these prehistoric housings. Perhaps, we can finds the answer in the geologic modifications of this territory and also to reasons of defensive type. 

While the paleolithic art represents almost exclusively animal isolated - and few times scenes - the art pertainig to eastern part of Iberian Peninsula, composes its hunt scenes and of animals, of archers and feminine figures that impact for its sense of mobility and its impressionism. Also, in Valltorta appears the man as frequent topic and of central importance. In the cave of the horses we can see this perfectly. Spite the many studies carried out by the main specialists, it has not been possible to settle down in a sure way the chronology of the art.

We share the remains of a millennial culture with people of diverse nationalities coincidental when visiting this rupestrian sanctuary. We are curious looks before an iconography that already speaks us of a preconceived ordination of species and signs projected on walls that resist the passage of the centuries. Around 900 figures distributed in 21 rocky shelters and caves, located along of 7 Kms of the tortuous valley, located in the population of Tírig. 

In the vicinity of the Ravine is the Museum of the Valltorta, where it is sought to reconstruct the exciting prehistoric past of the lands of the Alto Maestrazgo. Surprisingly, while in the exterior you go back to the prehistory inside this building of futurist design, an interactive scale model is exhibited that allows to locate the points of interest of the diverse archaeological locations, the farmhouses, the rural areas and other details of the area. 

The most attractive in the Museum is a reproduction to natural size of the Cova dels Cavalls, discovered in 1917 and declared Artistic Historical Monument in 1924. In the scene, a group of archers shoots its arrows against a flock of deers, integrated by a mature specimen, another youth, five hinds and two fawns. The paintings of Valerosa, more perfect exponent of the Rupestrian Art of Levante, they were declared by the Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO.

Horses Cave



 
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