The treasures of Morella

Morella is a medieval town in the province of Castellón, approximately 180 km north of the city of Valencia in Spain. There are few walled towns around the world (Carcassonne in France and Diyarbakir in Turkey are classic examples that spring to mind) that can match the magnificence of Morella. As you approach Morella, one can’t help but be impressed by the massive walls and imposing towers that protect the town. The Morella castle sits proudly atop the hill. It is an unforgettable sight.

morella-photo

Morella

sant miquel gate morella

Sant Miquel gate

We entered the town through the stunning Sant Miquel gate, with its striking twin towers. I didn’t have much knowledge of the history of Morella but walking through this gate, it was clear that this heavily-fortified town was an important centre centuries ago that must’ve seen many a war. Our guide was quick to affirm this. Many of the ancient powers occupied this town at some stage; from the Greeks and the Carthaginians, to the Romans and the Moors. The town played a pivotal role during the Napoleonic Wars and the Spanish Civil War, and helped shape the course of the history of Spain.

Nowadays, the town is a serene place that begs to be explored. There are many things to see and do. Inside the walls are a labyrinth of streets, lined by charming houses with their characteristic hanging balconies and gorgeous buildings in a multitude of styles, ranging from Romanesque to Gothic.

Culinary delights

As we walked along the cobblestone streets, the first thing I noticed were the gorgeous shops selling all kinds of local produce. The sight of dozens of sausage varieties, olive oils, honey, cheese, wines and my absolute favourite, black truffles, made my mouth water. I took my time exploring the shops and savouring the scents of cured meats and cheese. Striking up a conversation with the shop owner was easy enough (I don’t speak Spanish but food is a universal language isn’t it? 🙂 ) and I found myself going from one tasting to another: chorizo, honey, jams, cheese, truffles and olive oil. It was absolutely delightful.

Cheese galore!

Truffles!

Local honey.

We soon discovered that Morella is a true culinary paradise that takes its inspiration from the large variety of local produce. Dishes that Morella is especially famous for include ‘ternasco’ (Morellan leg of lamb), ‘gallina trufada’ (truffled hen!), ‘perdiu en escabetx’ (marinated partridge) and various wild mushrooms. We stopped for lunch at Restaurante Casa Roque, a lunch I won’t easily forget! 🙂

Architectural treasures

I wandered along the main street, Blasco de Alagón, and soaked up the lovely atmosphere. The town elders sat under the arches of ancient arcades chatting boisterously while enjoying a coffee and a cigar; vendors showed off their produce of the day on rickety wooden tables; and day-trippers filled their bags with sausages, cheeses and wines.

A street in Morella.

The Romanesque-style houses and the Gothic façades of the historic buildings, such as the Ajuntament (Town Hall), were especially striking. Elegant staircases led up and down from the Blasco de Alagón, offering beautiful vistas of the castle atop the hill or the verdant valley below.

A beautiful staircase in Morella.

We stepped into the Gothic cloister of the Convent of Sant Francesc, a serene oasis with a stunning view of the castle high above.

Convent of Sant Francesc

The main road wound its way gradually to the Archpriest’s Church of Santa Maria la Major. This architectural jewel has two portals and a striking blue dome. Once inside, I was completely bowled over by the impressive spiral staircase, the church organ and the breathtaking gold-gilded alter-piece.

Church of Santa Maria la Major.

A stunning spiral stairacse inside the church.

The magnificent altar-piece.

The ceiling above the altar.

The impressive pipe-organ.

From the Archpriest’s church, several lanes wind their way further up the hill to the castle. It’s a steep climb but the panorama of the surrounding hills and valleys is certainly worth the effort.

Morella is absolutely worth a day-trip from the coast or from Valencia. If you visit Morella, make sure you plan sufficient time for a meal in one of the many restaurants or mesón to experience authentic Morellan cuisine.

Search for hotels in Morella.

Note: my trip was sponsored by the Land of Valencia.

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16 Responses to “The treasures of Morella”

  1. Keith Jenkins 28/04/2014 12:42 pm
    #

    Awesome! Have a great time in Morella! I’m sure you’ll love it.

    Cheers and safe travels!
    Keith

  2. Augusto 25/04/2014 10:35 pm
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    Hi Keith, Thanks so much for this post. I´m planing go to the Valencia next September and after to see your pictures i decided visiting Morella. Augusto ( Brazil)

  3. Lisa Bergren 02/09/2010 5:17 pm
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    Lovely! We’re eager to explore Spain as a family–and now Morella must be our list for a visit. Thanks for the good report.

  4. velvet 12/08/2010 5:59 am
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    Hi Jan,
    I remember seeing those tarts in the window but didn’t explore further. Sorry!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  5. Jan Robinson 11/08/2010 10:50 pm
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    Hi Velvet – I have just returned from a week spent close to Morella — I visited the town on the recommendation of a local!

    Can you (or any of your foody chums) through any light on the awesome nutty tarts sold in the bakers?

    Jan

  6. Rob 05/08/2010 10:40 pm
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    Qué bonito esta ciudad! Y me gusta mucho las otras tus aventuras de Valencia tambièn! Pero greo que es mejor de estudiar un pocito de español o la lingua Catalana? I should practise more too I guess….Lovely adventures again Keith!
    Rob

  7. velvet 25/07/2010 12:48 pm
    #

    Thanks Sonya! I can certainly recommend a visit to Morella. It’s still pretty much off the beaten path in Castillon and is an absolute gem.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  8. Sonya 25/07/2010 2:55 am
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    Keith, I’ve really enjoyed your recent adventures in Spain! Morella, Spain sounds like a must-see place.

  9. jen Laceda 23/07/2010 2:56 pm
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    Hi Keith,
    Thanks for introducing me to Morella. Never heard of this place before, but now, as a travel and food blogger, I am interested in this beautiful foodie town. The architecture is just awesome! Love the fortification, the church cloisters, and the meandering streets! Just stunning!

  10. velvet 23/07/2010 10:30 am
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    Hi Andy,
    You would’ve loved the hike to the top of the castle. LOL! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  11. Andy Jarosz 22/07/2010 8:27 pm
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    Looks lovely Keith. Thanks for sharing! This is my kind of place. Right, that’s it. I’m going to have to go back to Valencia 🙂

  12. velvet 22/07/2010 5:03 pm
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    Gracias Diego! Morella was AWESOME! 🙂

  13. DIEGO 22/07/2010 2:39 pm
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    Visit Morella…beautiful vistas… VALENCIA
    😉

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