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davidx Teruel - A travel report by David
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Teruel,  Spain - flag Spain
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davidx's travel reports

Teruel and Cantavieja

  11 votes
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Teruel is a provincial capital in Aragón and Cantavieja is a small village in the Maestrazgo area of the same province. Teruel has [some of?] the best Mudejar architecture in Spain.


Teruel Cathedral
Teruel Cathedral
On a four night break in Valencia [qv] I did a circular route out to see the Mudejar architecture of Teruel and the Maestrazgo mountain area which is shared between Valencia [Castellón Province] and Aragón [Teruel province]. Within the Maestrazgo I particularly wanted to see the town of Morella. Buses go from Maestrazgo villages, in particular Cantavieja. and from Castellón. I researched and found I could do a circuit to Teruel [first night] by train, Cantavieja on the !5.00 bus [next night], Morella early next morning and then on to Castellón on the second bus mentioned in the Rough Guide and Let’s Go. There I could pick up a train to Valencia, arriving at about 1500 or 1600 and staying two nights. Bold? Well, it didn’t quite work. Having taken a bus in the dark at 05.45 from Cantavieja to reach Morella, fortunately I was asked by the driver whether I meant to stay there. I explained, only to learn that there is no second bus to Castellón. I left on the only bus to Castellón half an hour later! Moreover Morella looked quite as good as I’d been told – but it’s not the subject of this report. However I’ll let it creep in under ‘Other’ at the end. A note here first about the scenery; I have to admit to some disappointment; Because of the dreadful airport bus I had missed my train to Teruel and the one three hours later ended in total darkness over the best stretch. The first part of the route from Teruel to Cantavieja gave no pleasure at all and where they’ve placed the sign for the Maestrazgo Cultural Park, there is as much culture as I’d expect from a pack of rabid hyenas. Lastly I was, of course, forced to do what I think was a highly scenic trip out of Cantavieja in total darkness at 05.45. Enough moaning; much of the ride to Teruel was fine, the route through the Maestrazgo to Cantavieja improved immeasurably on the second half and, as it got lighter next morning there was some fine mountain scenery both sides of Morella.

Favourite spots:
El Salvador tower
El Salvador tower
For those who don’t know, Mudejar architecture was that developed by Moorish architects for Christian or lay buildings after the re-conquest; i.e. although they incorporated many Moorish features the buildings here were churches, not mosques, from the start. I’m sorry that neither my own photos nor any website I’ve found give a proper idea of the splendid and delicate use of colour in the construction of the towers. However you can get a good impression of the towers generally if you go to www.interamericanins-titute.or g/work_in_progress.h-tm, scroll down and magnify some of the photos of San Martín’s tower. This is probably the earliest, built in the 14th century. The tower of El Salvador, built in the same century, is best of all to my mind and the only one that can be ascended. In both these there is an interior undecorated tower and in El Salvador, the steps up run between the two. See later for the other towers, the museum and the aqueduct.

What's really great:
Teruel Provincial Museum
Teruel Provincial Museum
I wouldn’t have dreamt that this section would be largely occupied by a museum but I found the Provincial Museum in the lovely old [16C] Casa de la Comunidad, the first site of the Council’s office, to be an absolute gem. There are brilliant portrayals of cave art in the province as well as a wonderful collection of ceramics, rivalling even that in the national Museum in Valencia and some textile displays. The ceramic remains from the Iberian Age [6th to 4th centuries BC] must surely be some of the best anywhere. Photography without flash is permitted and the guide on the top floor took me up a flight of steps and onto the arcaded area seen in my photo for another of the photos. I also include in this section the interior decoration of San Pedro’s Church. Neither a square inch of glass nor one of brick is disregarded and, whereas that would normally have me running, it’s brilliant and delicate.

Sights:
The main Church, Cantavieja
The main Church, Cantavieja
Cantavieja is a delightful village in the Maestrazgo area. There aren’t a lot of specific sights and some that there are can’t be photographed without going well outside the village, such as the houses just along from the Ayuntamiento being built directly aboe a precipitous, indeed almost vertical, rock face. Although I shall put one photo here [and one below] to have them near the description, my photos are practically identical to those you will find already among the pictures on the site, taken by Moonwatcher, through which I first found this site! It’s not a case of being a copycat – it’s that they’re what’s there to be taken.
Back to Teruel and the Cathedral is clearly a major sight. I don’t find the mix of styles as appealing as the pure Mudejar but the ceiling inside is terrific and you can see that on the website given above. The tower of San Pedro is very good but not right up to the standard of San Martín and El Salvador. [continued at end]

Accommodations:
The Cathedral from high in the museum.
The Cathedral from high in the museum.
I stayed in the Fonda del Tozal in Teruel, rather a fine old place which has seen better days but it remains clean and comfortable. Heating in the evening [necessary late April!] En suite rooms; near cathedral.
In Cantavieja I stayed in the Pensión Julian, very cheap with shared toilets but spotlessly clean with a good comedor – see under restaurants. A definite advantage is that it’s where the early morning buses are locked away for the night!

Restaurants:
Ayuntamiento [Town Hall], Cantavieja
Ayuntamiento [Town Hall], Cantavieja
I enjoyed eating at the comedor of the Pensión Julian. A fine mixed bean dish followed by pork chops with a more than adequate salad garnish. [bread, pudding and wine included]

Other recommendations:
In the museum 13/14th century ceramics
In the museum 13/14th century ceramics
[continued –San Pedro] San Pedro’s is best known for being the mausoleum of the Lovers of Teruel. For those who don’t know, here’s the story in a nutshell: Diego poor – not allowed to marry Isabel [rich]. I’s father gives D 5 years to get rich – he does and gets back only hours late – wedding bells as I marries another. D gets interview and asks for farewell kiss. I refuses [now bride of another]. Diego dies. Isabel gives him pre-funeral kiss – isabel dies. There they lie in alabaster with their hands entwined!

There is a fine Renaissance aqueduct with a lower level forming a pedestrian walkway, built on the Roman pattern in Teruel.
Last, as promised, Morella. This is a town that can be seen from way off, built on a hill with an almost impregnable castle at the very top on STEEP rock. You will already have gathered that a car is an advantage here – otherwise spend what time you need to get up to the castle – and don’t be surprised if my eyes go green when I read your account!

Published on Wednesday April 27th, 2005


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Fri, Apr 29 2005 - 09:42 AM rating by gloriajames

5*!

Thu, Apr 28 2005 - 12:08 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

great report again David Ji

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 03:55 PM rating by rangutan

Excellent report and makes Teruel quite inviting to visit.

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 10:14 AM rating by britman

Yet another great report

Wed, Apr 27 2005 - 09:43 AM rating by bear495

Nice job, David. It was pleasant to read about the architecture and about some of the highlights of this trip.

Russ

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