It was the afternoon of a hot day in early September in Peníscola, we had two Orxates in front of the beach and had a rest while recovering from the heavy humid environment. The day was getting to an end but before we still had to drive eighty kilometres through mountain roads, from the mediterranean coast to one thousand metres high. We were getting closer to Morella when the sky got suddenly completely dark.
A violent storm hit us while approaching our destination. The windshield wiper could not take out all the water and the visibility was reduced to null. Driving slowly we reached the top of the Morella mountain, just next to the castle, while seeing the water falling from the cliffs together with sand and rocks. The lightnings and thunders became a continuous event, as there were no quiet space between them.
Morella is a medieval town and its narrow streets are forbidden to cars. You can imagine that we could not park the car out of the village and then walk under that thunderstorm. We had to wait patiently in the car when all the steepy streets of the town became rivers and waterfalls. When the intensity of the rain decreased and opened the door of the car a cold air hit us on the face. Remember that we were coming from a torrid environment in Peníscola coast.
The Cardenal Ram hotel was located in the main street of Morella, in a building dated from the XVI century and surrounded by shops and restaurants. The views from the hotel were also beautiful and we could see how the thunderstorm was traveling towards the coast while the sunset started to fall behind the hills.
The next day we walked around through the steepy streets of Morella. First thing we did after having breakfast in a small bar, was going to the top where the castle and Santa Maria church are located. Both were closed at that time but nothing prevented us from taking wonderful photos of the landscape and these medieval buildings.
After listening the bells sound we decided to have a walk around the walls of the town. They are so well preserved… it is not strange that Morella, together with Peníscola, are considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. In fact they are part of the “Most Beautiful Villages of Spain Association”.
Morella is in the vertex of Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon. This location made it a strategic point of the Aragon Kingdom and it was an important place where all kind of travelers stopped during medieval ages. Walking through its streets you can imagine knights with their horses while looking for a nice place to have dinner and rest one night before continuing with their businesses, monks with dark robes walking towards the abbey next to the castle, salesmen located strategically in the main street selling bread, vegetables and meat…
Morella was conquered by Christians in October 1231 coming from Catalonia. The King of Catalonia, Jaume I, came triumphantly into the city after tough negotiations with Blasco the Alagon, whom the king had promised he could keep as much as he conquered. But the king wanted the walled city and the knight said “Morella is no place for any man of the world, but for a king, because it was as good as a county with its possessions”.
In 1270 Morella was the first village to become part of the new Valencia Kingdom. Still nowadays it has the status of the “First Villa of Valencia”.
Morella was also higly affected by the Western Schism and the War of Succession, when Felipe V from Castille almost destroyed all the town, abolished all valencian laws, like happened in Catalonia, banned the Catalan language and a strict Castillian rule was imposed.
The history can be touched in every stone of this beautiful medieval town and staying one day within its walls is higly recommendable for everyone who wants to do time travel.