Surroundings and activities
SURROUNDINGS: CALACEIT AND THE MATARRANYA COUNTY
This website does not offer detailed information on the Matarranya or Calaceit but hopefully it will inspire you to find out more about this interesting and beautiful part of the world.
The Matarranya River that winds its way through this wonderful territory, giving its name to the county, fills this beautiful and surprisingly diverse landscape with life.
For those who are unfamiliar with the location of the county, the Matarranya is set within the borders of Teruel with boundaries on the provinces of Tarragona and Castellón. Calaceit is 200 km from Barcelona, 150 km from Zaragoza and 250 km from Valencia. To give you an idea of the beauty of the area, many, in good faith, have called the county “the Tuscany of Spain”. Whilst we can humbly say that they are not far wrong as regards the stunning landscape and the natural treasures, those of us who have had the pleasure of visiting Tuscany can honestly say that the Matarranya is far more spectacular.
The olive groves, almond orchards and vineyards welcome visitors and invite them to stop and converse with them and although this may seem to be a fruitless endeavour, there are, I can assure you, few more reassuring conversations to be had. And on the horizon, Los Ports de Beseit, overlooking the county.
The area is full of surprises: the 20 metre waterfall called El Salt; the Parrisal pass; la Peixquera, a picturesque spot beside the Ulldemó River; the Iberian settlements, etc. Old and noble villages with medieval old quarters, centuries-old houses and stone palaces that have barely changed with time, Calaceit, La Fresneda, Valderrobres, Cretes, Beseit, Torre del Compte, Massalió…
Indeed, Calaceit is the capital of the county and has been declared “of cultural interest” by the Spanish government, as it has the best preserved and largest old quarter. By way of example, we should point out that replicas of two of its houses have been created for Barcelona’s Poble Espanyol that gathers together examples of architecture from around Spain. Hotel del Sitjar is located in the town’s main square, next to the town hall and surrounded by buildings of great architectural value.
Moreover, Hotel del Sitjar, is right in the heart of a triangle formed by Tortosa (the Ebro Delta and Morella), Los Ports de Beseit and Alcanyís, and the Maestrat, three beautiful areas of touristic interest that can be accessed in under an hour.
Locals are happy to welcome and help visitors. If you get the chance, we recommend you stop and chat to people as they can share valuable knowledge and insights. We also recommend that you take part in or at least read about the unique traditions and customs of the area, its patron saint festivities, the Bous de Foc, the processions and the area’s agricultural produce, etc.
- Hiking and breathtaking walks in Los Ports de Beseit, (the Parrisal pass, the Peixquera and the Masmut cliffs, the straits...), through the fields of the Matarranya (century-old paths and routes between towns), the Pena reservoir, etc.
- 4WD and quad bike tours
- Wildlife observation walks in Los Ports de Beseit, vulture feeding sessions in Valderrobres...
- River swimming trips: in the Matarranya, the Algars, the Ulldemó and Tastavins rivers.
- Cycling route along the old railway tracks now known as the Via Verda (Green Path)
- EHorse riding along rivers, valleys and fields in the county (either by the hour, half day or full day) - Motorland race track in Alcanyís, 35 km away
- Guided tours of the medieval towns of Calaceit, La Fresneda, Valderrobres, Beseit, Cretes, etc. to its ethnographic and olive oil museums, etc.
- Olive oil and wine tasting sessions in working mills and wineries.
- Innovative guided tours to working livestock farms (sheep and pig farms).
- The Ruta del Tambor (Drum Route) in Lower Aragon (Calanda, Alcanyís, etc.)
- Prehistoric settlements and cave paintings in the county and Dinópolis, the dinosaur theme park in Peñarrolla de Tastavins.
- The Lower Aragon Iberian route: Joan Cabré Archaeological Museum in Calaceit, individual or group tours to the county’s Iberian settlements (three in the town of Calaceit).
- Middle Ages: the Templars and Cathars in the Matarranya, the Lower Aragon prison route, the history of the inquisitors and the good witches.
- The Peace Route: the Battle of the Ebro in the Spanish Civil War, the Ebro Battle Study Centre in Gandesa (20 km), scenes from the civil war. Understanding war to love peace.
- Visits to neighbouring places of interest: Maestrat, Terra Alta, Baix Aragó, etc...
- Visits to Zaragoza (150 km.), Teruel (170 km), Tarragona (100 km) and all the activities these cities have to offer.