The trembling mass of the clouds has accompanied our visit in Morella, one of the most fascinating places in the Maestrazgo, throughout the day. Like listless butterflies, the night fell suddenly. It became dark early, but the time to get out of the restaurant, where we ate the Morellana soup and a lamb shoulder cooked in the oven, and a vision like “One Thousand and One Nights” breaks the sky: the illuminated walls and on top, a precious diamond, the Arab fortress.
A maze of concentric and radial streets, lead us to the fortress that is almost unrecognizable from the rock on which it stands. The present fortress dates back from the thirteenth century, when Morella was under the crown of the Aragona family after being competed with Christians and Muslims. It was just during the Arab domination that the fortress has had its glory days, if it’s true that it was rebuilt by El Cid, the great leader of the Reconquista, the protagonist of a battle in this area, in 1084.
At the foot of the castle, the Gothic Archpriest's Church of Santa Maria, consecrated in 1318; it has two magnificent portals and keeps inside a beautiful chorus of the first decades of the fifteenth century. Also outstanding is the Baroque high altar made by Vicent Dolç. We enter the historic center through six gates open in the walls, defended by fourteen towers. The walls, two kilometers and a half, were built mostly between 1358 and 1465 on the basis of pre-existing Arab wall of the eleventh century. If we enter the town through the Portal dels Estudis, we see at once, in Plaza dels Estudis, some examples of the typical houses of Morella, with four floors, white plastered facade adorned with wrought iron balconies with flowers and decorated in the lower part with azulejos.
Since 1846 a traditional laboratory produces the “manta Morellana”, the blanket that was also used to dress for the Feria. Here continues a tradition that began in the Middle Ages, when the whole Morella was a textile factory and traded products of its looms with the other Mediterranean countries, in particular with Italy.