Morella Circular RouteTeruel - Castellón
Road cycling tourism around the Morella Circular Route: untamed lands
- Route: circular, starts and ends in La Iglesuela del Cid
- Provinces: Castellón y Teruel
- Kilometres: Approx. 105 km.
- Days recommended: 2 days.
- Difficulty: Medium.
- Connects with: El Anillo del Maestrazgo.
Information you can download on this page
- The PDF guide for tourist cycling on roads, including maps, type of road, kilometres and crossings, etc.
- The tracks on the route in GPX, KMZ and TRK format.
- List of accommodation.
- List of points for obtaining and stamping the Letter of safe conduct.
- List of tourist information offices.
- Tourist brochure (this can be obtained at any of the tourist information offices on the route).Only available in Spanish.
Remember that you can obtain more information about each route at the tourist information offices on the Way of El Cid, including brochures and the Letter of safe conduct.
El Cid is known to have visited the Morella area on several occasions, acting initially in the interests of the Taifa or kingdom of Zaragoza and later in his own, although the lack of data prevents us from determining the exact locations. The legend surrounding this route is centred in Olocau del Rey: after being cast into exile by Alphonse VI, El Cid became the military leader of the Taifa or kingdom of Zaragoza, governed by al-Mutamin, who was at war with his brother al-Mundir, Prince of Lerida, and the Count of Barcelona, Ramón Berenguer II. In the light of this situation, the Morella region became an area of great strategic importance. In 1083, whilst in the service of al-Mutamin, El Cid launched wave after wave of attacks on the territories belonging to the Taifa of Lerida, and rebuilt Alolala Castle, situated just a short distance from Morella, where he spent the winter with his men. Although there is no general consensus, many scholars agree that the site is actually Olocau del Rey. During the same campaign he attacked Morella Castle, although he was forced to retreat. He would return to this area on several occasions: in 1090 he travelled from Castellón to stock up on provisions, and in June that same year he faced the coalition formed by the Prince of Lerida and the Count of Barcelona in a battle fought in Tévar, from which he emerged victorious. This battle is considered one of the major events in the life of El Cid, as his victory allowed him to extend his power and influence over lands that until then had been under the protection of the Count of Barcelona, further enhancing his reputation as a soldier. The Poem of the Cid also refers to this battle, dedicating numerous verses to the narration of this event. Although the exact location of the battle is unknown, may scholars believe that it took place in the pine forest of Pereroles, situated off our route some 25 km north of Morella, between La Pobla d'Alcolea and Monroyo.
It is hard to find a route that matches El Anillo de Morella due to the vast wealth of history, nature and art packed into a fascinating 100 km. El Maestrazgo is one of the most spectacular and challenging areas for cycle tourists on the Way of El Cid. This vast mountainous territory stretches out across the provinces of Teruel and Castellón. It remained in the hands of the Moors until the 12th century. The monarchs of Aragon conquered these lands with the aid of the Knights Templar who received them as their reward. As a result, they fell under the jurisdiction of the Grand Master of this order, hence their name. In addition, the Knights Templar controlled a vast expanse of land used for livestock breeding as the rugged relief made it unsuitable for agriculture. Following the disbanding of the Order in 1308, the lands were passed into the hands of the Military Orders of El Hospital and Montesa. It is for this reason that the route is dotted with castles steeped in the history of the Knights Templar, such as those of Mirambel or Cantavieja.
This route reveals some of the most fascinating towns of El Maestrazgo that can be accessed via quiet roads that are guaranteed to delight even the most demanding cyclists. La Iglesuela del Cid, Cantavieja, Mirambel and Morella have all been declared historic and/or artistic sites. The breathtakingly steep and mountainous landscape seems to have been carved out of stone, and is scattered with grassland, meadows and scrubland dotted with pine groves and kermes oaks. Over the centuries the hand of man has tenaciously made its mark on the scenery, building countless walls, terraces and huts using the ancient dry stone technique and which today are a further attraction for travellers.
El Cid and culinary delights
Gastronomy in this territory is clearly influenced by the lay of the land. In the mountainous inland areas, dishes are hearty and surprisingly varied. In additional to the traditional fare, new ingredients have appeared, such as the magnificent truffle, whilst others have been reinvented, like the oil produced from ancient olive trees (some are believed to have been growing in these lands during the days of El Cid). When it comes to meat products, pork is one of the unquestionable highlights, and is a staple ingredient in many stews and casseroles. Pork stew stock and ham, together with bread crusts and eggs are all essential ingredients in the famous meatballs known as pelotas de carnaval, popular throughout El Maestrazgo.
The roads are signposted at crossings and strategic places. For greater convenience, we recommend you take the cycling tourist route guides and the track.
Tips and recommendations
- Travel safely and unhurriedly: take the tracks and route guide with you.
- Food and spares. It is very important to take some food with you (sandwiches, nuts, energy bars, etc.) in case you can't find anywhere to eat or buy food. Also remember to take water with you. In most of the villages, there are drinking fountains: remember to refill your water bottles before setting off again. The same applies for spare parts: remember to take a repair kit with you and the more complete it is, the greater your peace of mind will be.
- Book your accommodation in advance.
- Don't forget your helmet: it is compulsory for adults to wear helmets on roads outside cities and for under 16s it is compulsory at all times.
- Get your Letter of safe conduct. The Letter of Safe Conduct is a personalised 'passport' you can have stamped at many towns and villages on the Way of El Cid. You can use it to get discounts of at least 10% in more than 200 places of accommodation and benefit from special offers. It is free and you can apply for it at any of the more than 70 tourist information offices on the route or at the Way of El Cid Consortium.
- Your literary guide. You might think it's unnecessary weight, but for many it is essential: don't forget to take with you a copy of the Poem of The Cid; you will be able to recreate some of its passages on site