Over three hundred km route weaves and snakes among places where The Christian Reconquest of the territories and their necessary repopulation and maintenance was placed in the hands of the Military Orders. In 1196 The Templar acquired dominion of these places carrying out a number of ”Encomiendas” or ”Baylías”, territorial divisions united by rigid discipline, headed by the figure of the ”Maestre”(Master). The name Maestrazgo comes from this word. One of Europe’s best-kept secrets!
This depopulated region -2 inhabitant per km2 – was the field battle of templar crusaders and now a week of high quality riding traversing 30 traditional villages. Up and down.
Self guided program.
Group size: min. 1.
Grade: moderate / challenging.
8 days / 7 nights / 6 days cycling.
Baggage: Daysac *.
Accommodation: Small hotel, and Guest House (Casas Rurales).
Price: from 485 EUR / pp / 2 person party. Sharing double room.
Discount depending on number of people.
Dates: From 01/03 to 11/11. We recommend avoiding from 1st July to 18th August.
Connecting landscape & emotion:
village to village; challenge & Achievement; the Templar Dominion; Villages: Beceite, Valderrobres, Fornoles, Belmonte de San José, Cañada de Verich. de Verich, Ginebrosa, Aguaviva, Las Parras de Castellote, Castellote, .Cuevas de Cañart, Ejulve, Aliaga, Miravete, Villaroya de losPinares, Fortanete, Cantavieja, La Cañada de Benatanduz, Villarluengo, Tronchón, Mirambel, Iglesuela del Cid, Cinctorres, Morella, Herbes, Peñarroya de Tastavins, Fuentespalda, La Portellada, La Fresneda.
* Daysac. Baggage transport optional.
Meet up in Beceite. Briefing.
In the second half of the 12th century, the Order of the Knights Templar conquered this Moorish settlement Abu-Zeit. Beceite located at an altitude of 579 m in the foothills of the rugged mountain massif of the Puertos de Beceite, which we see in the distance. Population 600 inhabitants.
Valderrobres - Castellote
Ride inside the region of Bajo Aragón - Matarranya, through lonely villages in the middle of Mediterranean forest and among blossoming almond trees. The Spanish Tuscany. Enjoy Belmonte de San José and Castellote templar castle.
Castellote - Villarroya de los Pinares.
Another order of knight monks, the Order of Malt (Sant John), also received dominion over areas that had been conquered. Sant John were given control over Pitarque, Villarroya de los Pinares (1190), Fortanete (1202) and Sollavientos, who belonged to the encomienda (commandery) Aliaga. After the dissolution of the Order of the Templars, the commanderies of Cantavieja and Castellote were also given to the Hospitallers. The management of the Hospitallers over these regions was only ended in 1813, when the feudal management form for Spanish villages was generally abolished.
High Maestrazgo. Villarroya de los Pinares - Cantavieja.
A mas or a masía is a farm, sometimes reinforced with a tower yet it is a way of life. This type of buildings came up in the 14th century, when the battle against the Moors was over and the farmers no longer had to live in the fortified villages and towns.
They are usually scattered alone around the country or in small groups together. Around Cantavieja -a Templar village and stronghold of the Carlist rebel Ramón Cabrera, The Tiger of El Maestrazgo- for example, there are 125 masias. During this time many masias have been abandoned and often already partly collapsed, or they are only used as a farmyards, while the farmer's family lives in the village.
Cantavieja loop. Mirambel- La Cañada - Villarluengo - Tronchón - Cantavieja.
Climb up to the karstic moorland landscapes. The way goes up to get Cuarto Pelado mountain pass and then the road drops through many bends reaching Cañada de Benatanduz 1.492 m above sea level. Excellent sceneries. Go on to Villarluengo perched at the cliff and eventually last effort to Mirambel and climb up to Cantavieja.
Cantavieja-Iglesuela del Cid-Cinctorres-Morella.
La Iglesuela del Cid a Templar village laid on The Way of El Cid The Knight. Man is largely absent , on the route but has mades his mark through terrace farming and dry walling, now just about finished. Villages tend to be spread well apart. Excellent descent to Cinctorres to have a rest.
Morella - Herbés - Valderrobres - Beceite.
Violent activities, exemptions, taxes immunity for criminals and assassins. The border with Islam became a place of refuge for people fleeing from their past: murderers, thieves, debtors, people with no family ties. A war-oriented society, which would serve as the foundation to repopulate and develop new chance. The Temple was dissolved in 1308 and after violent revolts in the area, its possessions were acquired by the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and Montesa.
Transfer to bus connection / hired car / train station. Farewell.
What is included in this picturesque tour?485
- 8 days / 7 nights / 6 days cycling.
- Briefing at spot is delivered.
- Half board.
- Route book (maps and notes send by mail).
- 24/7 emergency telephone number.
- Transport to local start point and return.
- Baggage transport.
- Transportation to starting point from any airport and back.
- Extended stays.
- Divide stages.
- Baggage transport: 122 EUR / party.
* 30% deposit at booking. The rest to be paid 30 days prior to departure. Read conditions.
“I have found something astonishing even in a hasty succession of scenes. I have found the triumph of time and nature over human endeavour though on the other hand, very noble remains of that defeat. The eye is often carried below, into these depths of solitude. This is how I experienced the week riding my bike on these mountains. ˮ
“We wanted something challenge and at the same time discovering this very empty part of Spain. Visitors are not that common, with the exception of locals and very few tourist. This route gets about as far away as is possible from the madding crowd. The route is described in 6 stages, but consideration should be given to spending more time exploring the countryside and new alternative routes and cultural places related with knights.ˮ
“We very much enjoyed the cycling tour through the Maestrazgo last week. The weather was great and the landscapes were amazing . We saw birds, mammals and flowers we had not seen before. The folks we stayed with for the night and who provided us with dinner and breakfast where always very friendly and helpful. So in a nutshell, a trip we shall not forget. Thanks.ˮ