I want to let you into a secret. I want to tell you about a town that is like a film set, but not so many people have heard of it, as yet. This town is worlds removed from some of the “popular” towns on the Costas of Spain. Although it gets its fair share of tourists, it has entirely kept its magnificent feel, authenticity and character. Welcome to Morella – a spectacular town that foodies and culture vultures will love! This article is the second in the series – Secrets of Spain.
Majestic Morella – one of Spain’s officially prettiest towns
Sitting majestically overlooking the plains of Castellon, lies Morella – a medieval walled town, which is featured on the official list of Spain’s prettiest towns. When you enter Morella, you feel as if you’ve walked onto a film set. The town is filled with character and absolutely saturated in history. It somehow seduces and devours you at the same time.
Making a striking entrance
I had seen a number of photos of Morella before going there the first time, so I knew that it was impressive to see from a distance. However nothing could have prepared me for the impact of the striking entrance, that you feel in person. The castle and fortified walls rise up ahead of you, like a great stone deity. In front of them is a wonderful sprawl of whitewashed houses, with earthy terracotta roofs.
Take your breath away
Once you arrive to the pretty sign at the entrance of Morella, the views over the surrounding countryside will take your breathe away. It’s hard to decide what to check out first, the amazing stone constructions that lie ahead of you, or the breathtaking countryside views, that you can enjoy from various vantage points.
The hills are alive with amazing food produce
As you check out the wonderful views, you can let yourself think about the food that is sourced from there, which has nourished and delighted people for centuries. The traditional cuisine of Morella is directly linked to being in tune with the beautiful, rich environment that surrounds the town. The cuisine traditions have been handed down with love and wisdom from generation to generation. The result is seriously good, hearty food that is in tune with the seasons and the festivities.
Traditional festivals and fun fiestas
Depending on the time of year you decide to visit Morella, you can experience the culture and personality in a deeper way, by going to one of the town’s traditional festivals or fiestas. From the important traditional festival of St. Anthony around the 17th January, right through to the summer fun fiesta in August, pilgrimmages, or the annual carnival – there’s something for everyone.
Beaches under 1 hour away
Although Morella is an inland town, it’s located less than an hour’s drive from Spain’s Orange Blossom Coast (Costa Azahar). The closest seaside town is Vinaros, which I will tell you more about during this series. A little further away, perhaps around 1 hour and 10 minutes drive, is Peñiscola that I featured in the first post of this series.
Morella Castle – a monument of historical and artistic importance
Once you’ve seen the castle up close and personal, it won’t suprise you to know that this has been a monument of historical and artistic importance since 1931. Although the castle ruins and fortified walls are the visual highlight of the town, it has many other charms.
Walk along gorgeous stone streets
Morella has gorgeous stone streets and stairways that connect some of these streets. The streets of Morella absolutely ooze history and romance.
See the cutest authentic shops
Sweet, cute authentic shops tell another part of the story that is Morella. The artisan and foodie culture of the town is evident in its lovely little shops. During the winter, truffles are traded in the local markets, but all year round you can enjoy gourmet food shops, with local cheeses, meat and honey products.
Don’t leave without your colourful Morella blanket
The town’s best known artisan product is the Morella blanket. The textile tradition of Morella, in particular wool, has been one of the longest running economic activities of the town and region. It can be traced back to the 13th century. Morella blankets are rich, warm and colourful. They are cheerful and comforting in the winter, and make a lovely reminder of your visit to one of the prettiest towns I have seen so far in my life.
Jackie de Burca is Co-owner of Catalonia Valencia.