The Conquest of ValenciaTeruel - Castellón - Valencia
By MTB bike along the route of The Conquest of Valencia: the road to the sea
- Route: From Cella - Teruel to Valencia
- Provinces: Teruel, Castellón, Valencia
- Kilometres: Approx. 250 km.
- Days recommended: 4 days (3 nights)
- Difficulty: medium - low.
Information you can download on this page
- MTB tracks in GPX, KMZ and TRK format.
- The MTB route guide: contains technical and practical information, a description of the route, maps, gradients, difficulty, bicycle repair shops, stamping points and relevant milestones, etc.
- 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.
Plot: the conquest of Valencia
For anyone wanting to come with me to attack Valencia… I will wait for them for three days at the Canal of Cella. This route sets off in Cella, the place where, according to the Poem, El Cid decided to meet up with those who wanted to help him conquer Valencia. It follows his tracks through the many towns and villages of what is today known as Comunidad Valenciana, tributaries of El Cid in history or conquered by him according to the Poem.
The route runs towards Valencia mainly along the course of the River Palancia: in the valley of this river, we come across Jérica (conquered, according to the Poem, by El Cid and historically one of his tributaries) and Segorbe (also a tributary but, in the Poem, it was used as home for an army of 3000 Moorish knights on their way to Alcocer to do battle with El Cid.
The route unavoidably leads to the Mediterranean, first of all at Sagunto (converted anachronistically in the Poem into El Cid's headquarters for three years) and El Puig, a strategic place 15 km from Valencia, conquered by El Cid in the literature and also in history (in 1092). In 1237, Jaime I followed suit and, in both cases his occupation was decisive for the conquest of the city.
Now, all that is left is to enter the historical centre of Valencia through any of its gates (that of Quart or that of Serranos) and travel along a section of the former Islamic walls, whose remains consist of a few parts of the wall embedded in the houses in the historical centre. El Cid took Valencia on 15 June 1094 after a very difficult siege. It is said that, after the conquest, he climbed the fortress tower to see his possessions; we take our last steps in this journey by climbing El Miquelet, one of the symbols of this legendary city. And nothing better than the stanzas of the Poem to describe that moment: Great was the rejoicing / when my Cid entered Valencia. / Those who were on foot became knights, / and the gold and the silver — who could count it?
The story told in the Poem does not end here: Valencia and the surrounding area were the stages for other events and battles against the Almoravides, who wanted to reconquer the city. Valencia is where El Cid ended his days: according to history, Rodrigo died as Prince of the city in 1099. It was then, or perhaps earlier, when the legend was born.
A little history will help you understand this route
In the times of El Cid, in the middle of the 11th century, the ancient caliphate of Andalusia had been divided into numerous Muslim Taifas ('kingdoms'). Militarily weak, they suffered first of all from attacks from the up-and-coming Christian kingdoms and then from the invasion by the Almoravides. Consequently, the rich Taifa of Valencia was wanted by the Aragonese and the Catalans, as well as by the Arabic monarchs of Zaragoza and Lérida and by the Almoravides. El Cid took advantage of the situation and conquered the city of Valencia in 1094; however, pressure from the Almoravides forced his wife, Jimena, to abandon the city in 1102, three years after her husband's death.
The Almoravides were tribes from North Morocco who came to the peninsular in 1086 after the conquest of Toledo by Alphonse VI, King of León and Castile. These tribes took control of Al-Andalus until the 12th century, when they were beaten by the Almohades, also from Morocco. At the time, the Christian kingdoms were unstoppable and, although not free from difficulty, the upsurge was completed with the definitive conquest of Valencia by Jaime I in 1238.
The Conquest of Valencia section has two very different parts. The first, between Cella (Teruel) and Jérica (Castellón), is a route laden with history and nature: charming medieval villages, fascinating countryside, large mixed Mediterranean forests, natural ponds for swimming, rivers, straits and many other unique features that will more than compensate any hiker's efforts. This part of the route covers approximately 160 km and includes some of the most demanding sections on the Way, with many mid-mountain tracks. Teruel (capital of the Aragonese Mudejar style and a World Heritage Site), Mora de Rubielos, Rubielos de Mora and Jérica are the four towns that have been declared historical and/or artistic sites on this section.
The second part begins in Jérica: after leaving Segorbe, a historical-artistic site with a great deal of Gothic heritage, the Way goes down to Valencia along a technically simple route that connects the Via Verde Ojos Negros, a reconditioned railway track, with the Via Augusta. Downhill all the way, the view gradually changes from fruit and vegetable gardens to a more urban landscape. This is when travellers see the walls of Sagunt, facing the Mediterranean, one of the oldest and most important fortified towns on the Mediterranean. After passing through El Puig, referred to in the Poem as Cebolla, and after ending up on one of the beaches on the Mediterranean coast (an option we highly recommend!), travellers finally reach Valencia, the grand reward of El Cid and, possibly, also that of travellers on the Way of El Cid in the 21st century.
There are many natural areas of interest on this route: the juniper forests of El Puerto de Escandón (between Teruel and Puebla de Valverde), the spectacular Straits of El Mijares (between Olba and Montán) and the Course of the Palancia River (between Caudiel and Algar de Palancia). Between Sagunto and Puçol, on the coast, stands the Marsh of Els Moros, an area of wetlands home to local plant life and a wide variety of water birds. The Marsh reminds us that we are close to the Mediterranean and that we have the almost unavoidable option of refreshing our tired bodies on any of the beaches next to the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Gastronomy in this area is influenced by the lie of the land. In the interior, in the mountains, the food is simple and surprisingly varied. With a traditional base, it has brought in new ingredients, such as truffle, and reinvented others, such as oils from old olive trees (some of which may have seen El Cid pass by). The meat on offer includes pork, which is also responsible for the famous ham of Teruel; the rest is used for cold meats and local stews, such as La Olla. Stock from cocido and ham, as well as bread crusts and egg are essential ingredients in Pelotas de Carnaval, which are popular across the Maestrazgo region.
On the coast, the main ingredient is rice, cooked in many different ways: paella, arroz a banda, arroz al horno, arroz negro, with pumpkin, in desserts... Fish dishes include all the Mediterranean varieties cooked in an endless number of ways, such as suquet de peix, which is a very tasty stew. While you are there, try the wines from some of the local designations of origin: Valencia and Tierra de Castelló. And while we are speaking of drinks, don't forget to try horchata, which is extremely popular in Alboraya. Finally, this area is where some of the most famous varieties of oranges and mandarins in the world are grown: try them in season and you will no doubt be surprised by the taste of a 'real' orange.
- In general, the BTT route follows the hiking route, which is why BTT users mainly follow the same signposts as hikers. However, when the hiking route becomes very difficult or technical, alternatives appear signposted specifically for BTT. These BTT-MTB alternatives run along country roads or tracks and, when that is not possible, along minor roads.
- Signposting for hikers. When cycling along the hiking route, the signs are: (a) two red lines (in sections where the Way of El Cid is not certified as a GR, in other words, a long distance track); and (b) a red and white line in sections where it is certified as GR 160 Way of El Cid or coincides with another GR (long distance track). Both the maps and the route guides indicate the type of signposts you will find.
- BTT-MTB signposts: the BTT alternatives (those that are separate from the hiking route) are signposted according to international IMBA standards. At the beginning of each BTT stage, you will find a panel showing the alternatives for that day (if any) and then, at the beginning of each alternative, another information panel.
- The first part of the route has many country roads and mountain tracks, while the second part is made up mainly of roads with good surfaces and tarmacked roads. The first part, on the section between Puebla de Valverde and Caudiel, is where you will find most of the BTT alternatives: follow them. In some cases (in the second section of the journey between Puebla de Arenoso and Montanejos), we have kept the hiking route through the gorge: cyclists must get off and walk the way, but the spectacular views of La Maimona make it worthwhile.
Tips and recommendations
- Length of the stages: it is best for each one to decide their own stages according to their strengths and personal preferences. Some people place the emphasis on doing exercise, others on the cultural side of the route and others on the simple pleasure of taking in the countryside and locations. The stages we suggest are a combination of all three and have been designed for average tourists cycling under stable weather conditions to enjoy the route without too much stress. In particular, make sure you don't 'hammer yourself' too hard in the mountain stages on the way to Caudiel. Our tip is to enjoy that part and cycle at your leisure.
- Length of the stages: it is best for each one to decide their own stages according to their strengths and personal preferences. Some people place the emphasis on doing exercise, others on the cultural side of the route and others on the simple pleasure of taking in the countryside and locations. The stages we suggest are a combination of all three and have been designed for average tourists cycling under stable weather conditions to enjoy the route without too much stress.
- If you are on your own, make sure you charge your mobile phone before setting off and remember to read the other tips we give you here.
- Travel safely and unhurriedly: take the tracks and route guide with you. The route is signposted and we do maintenance on the signs every year; however, signs can also disappear (by accident, the weather, vandalism) and, in that case, especially when you are in the mountains, the track and route guide become very important. The route guide also indicates the levels of difficulty of each section and it is a good idea to check it out before starting each stage. The main problem as far as getting lost is concerned comes in the villages: although we have placed signposts in many of them, we have not covered all of them and, even in those with signposts, you might not see the marks and not find the exit easily. Of course, it is best to ask a local and take the tracks and route guide with you, since they contain the indications you need to follow the route.
- On your way, you will come across fences with gates and the occasional electric fence. They are there to stop cattle escaping. If you see any cattle, don't worry; there are no fighting bulls! Simply go past the animals without frightening them and please remember to leave the gates as you found them!
- Food and spares. Unless you have planned to eat in a bar or restaurant, 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.
- 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. If your old Spanish is not so good, take a modern version!
- And, of course, respect the signs you come across: damaging, knocking down or changing a sign means that those behind you might get lost.
How to get there… and get back
For more information about how to get to Cella, click on the information about the municipality. If you prefer, you can start your route in Teruel, 27 km from Cella. For more information about the transport options in Teruel, click on the information about the municipality. There are many options for getting to or leaving Valencia because it is an important communications centre.
Rev. JGG 02.08.16