Region of Maestrazgo
The region del Maestrazgo, located to the east of the province of Teruel, in the heart of the Iberian System, delimited in the north by Guadalope River, in the west by the upper valley of Alfambra and in the south by the High Mijares, entering the province of Castellon in the east.
With a surface of 1,204.3 Km2 and a population of about 3,749 inhabitants, fifteen municipalities make up this beautiful region:Allepuz, Bordón, Cañada de Benatanduz, Cantavieja, Castellote, La Cuba, Fortanete, La Iglesuela del Cid, Mirambel, Miravete de la Sierra, Molinos, Pitarque, Tronchón, Villarluengo, and Villarroya de los Pinares.
The Maestrazgo is a border territory, Aragonese, but with close ties to the neighbouring castellonense regions of the Maestrat and Els Ports. Their climate and landscape are marked by their location, with their own personal characteristics that have conditioned the territory and the ways of life of their inhabitants. From the heights of Gudar, with its highest peak, the Peñarroya , 2,024 meters high, to its boundery with Lower Aragón, the Guadalope river is the artery around which a landscape of mountains, sharpened crests and narrow canyons are interwoven.
Maestrazgo is a definite attraction for the tourist. The towns of this region conserve all the typical artifacts of their great patrimony, with urban centres that evoke the middle ages, palaces and Renaissance city councils, beautiful walls, castles (like the one at Castellote), porticoed squares and markets. Also temples and hermitages of templar origin, forged in the Middle Ages under the command of the crusades and with the support of the military. Mirambel, is the best-preserved and restored curban centers of all the region and one the best in Aragon, the Portal de las Monjas -Vestibule of the Nuns- and its Templar tower are particularly outstanding .
In Cantavieja, historical capital of Maestrazgo, the Church of Asunción is a must, in the Middle Ages, the authorities that tried to exert their power on the region settled here, from the templar dances to general Cabrera, who made this town his headquarters during the Carlist wars of the XIX. Century.
It was the writer Pío Baroja who wrote in 1931, a novel titled “ La Venta de Mirambel” which explained what life was like in the heat of war for the population, evoking the times of Ramon Cabrera and other Carlist ringleaders.
It is a challenge in itself to say which it is the prettiest Consistorial House of the Maestrazgo, be it from the XVI or XVII century, all of the villas possess palaces and unique large country houses, like those of Marquess de Valdeolivo (Tronchon), the Duke de Medinaceli (Fortanete), the Race House (Villarroya of the Pine groves) or the Palace (Allepuz). Many of the towns in Maestrazgo have been declared of Joint Historical-Artistical interest, an endorsement of its legacy to history
Tronchón, a colourful mountain town famous for its chesee, the religious architecture of the XVII and XVIII centuries, two gothic towers and interesting secular architecture. Except for Allepuz, that was always royal patrimony and was part of the Community of Teruel, the rest of the villas belonged to the same ecclesiastical dominion, first at the service of the Templars and soon after their dissolution to theHospital. This patrimony conferred on these Orders a great political and economic importance through their "castellanes" and "maestres". And indeed, the name of Maestrazgo for this region comes from the word “maestre”.
The economic development would arrive in the XVI and XVII centuries through the specialization in wool production and and the manufacturing of fabrics for export. The enduring existence of towns such as Villarroya and Miravete send us back to those times in which wool was the center of a flourishing economic activity
Lands with a vocation for livestock that go back centuries, ancient refuge for migratory livestock. A past with ties to cattle raising, of which some vestiges such as fulling mills and recovered mills still remain, some living looms like the one at the Iglesuela of the Cid where they are still making material maintaining the authenticity of the Mozarab legacy , and “masías”, constructions used to give lodging,, the gathering of animals and a warehouse, a real model of farming operation, whose main support was the wool ranch and as the wool from Maestrazgo started to become known in international markets, the masías also grew in importance, reaching their moment of splendour in the transition from the Middle Ages to Modern days.
The ample space of the Cultural Park of the Maestrazgo is also located within the region, it includes, in addition to the 15 municipalities integrated in Maestrazgo, another 28 towns where the cultural and natural patrimony constitutes an element of collective identity
A territory that includes contrasted landscapes, allowing countless cultural and sport activities, which go from visits to the town centre, monuments, exhibition centres, and exceptional landscapes, to practicing adventure sports, canyonism, climbing, kayaks, trekking, horse riding, hunting and fishing.
All kinds of events promoted by town councils and local and cultural associations take place within the region. Many of those fairs are regularly scheduled, like the Gastronomical Fair or the Aragonese Short Films Festival, “Image of Maestrazgo”, the Fair of Traditional Trades and Folklore of Maestrazgo in Mirambel, the Raid of Adventure of Maestrazgo or talks on mushrooms.
The popular culture of Maestrazgo also plays an excellent
role in this region. A cycle of festivals related to farming which is fundamentally the basis of its economy, where the festivals related to animals, like San Antón, the change from one season to another (San Juan) and harvests have great importance. Also festivals of “los quintos”, the jester's breeches and devils that run after the smallest children in winter celebrations, dances, romerías, “tranzas” or auctions to get money for the celebration, playing “morra”, or Maypoles planted in the town square.