7th of December
One of the most impressive routes in Sierra Espadán – the ascent to Castro Castle. The route passes through L’Arquet de Alfondeguilla and continues through the Fonteta ravine and among the cork oak forests up to the castle.
Although the castle’s construction is of Arab origin, the location of the Castro castle, also called Castro de Alfondeguilla, was occupied by a Roman watchtower. The castle is located on the ridge of the Sierra de Espadán, at an altitude of 787 meters.
Castro Castle was conquered by Jaume I in the Lent of 1238, after conversations with the Moors at the “Torre Forcada” located between Almenara and Vall d’Uixó. It was incorporated into the Barony of Jérica in 1272 together with the castles of Eslida, Fanzara and Uixó. In 1372 it was integrated into the dominions of Martín I of Aragón and María de Luna, with the title of county of Jérica, finally passing to the duchies of Segorbe and Medinaceli.
With a reputation of being impregnable and difficult to access (today it can be reached after a hike of two hours, following a route for hikers that starts from the town), remains of the wall, the keep and the cistern of this fortress that based its defense on the steepness of its orography….RutasJaimeI.com
We go back to Roman times to see them build this aqueduct of architectural interest known as “l’Arquet”, an aqueduct of controversial origin (some sources date it to Roman times while others attribute it to the Arab people) through which it channeled the water towards Molinet de Castro – a flour mill located downstream, currently non existent.
We continue our way near the channel of the ravine until we get away from it to look for a trail that will get us back to the town. Halfway through, near a viewpoint, we will find a path to the right that goes up to Castillo de Castro. It is signposted as a variant of PR-CV 138 that links the towns of Eslida and Chóvar.
The first nuclei that were established in the current location were Roman, of which today there are only remains. Later, during Muslim domination, the Castro Castle and the town played an important role in the resistance to the Christian Conquest. It was a center of resistance in various phases of its history. In the XX century this area was important in the Spanish Civil War, being the last stronghold of the Ebro Front in which the Republican Army yielded to the Nationals.
Currently the economic activities in the municipality are based on rainfed agriculture and irrigated agriculture (today on the rise), at the family level. There is no industrial estate in the municipality. The existing companies are also family-owned. Locals go to work to neighboring towns. Formerly, some artisans were dedicated to the manufacture of Aixereta (esparto braid), and women were dedicated to making Espardenyes d’Espart (Esparto espadrilles). Today these trades are extinct.
We highlight in Alfondeguilla the picturesque structure of its steep and narrow streets. The town has two entrances: one through Avda. Betxí and the other through Calle Mayor (main street of the town), which lead to the Plaza where the San Bartolomé parish church is located. Continuing in the direction of the oldest part of the town called Castellet. El Calvario located on the outskirts of the town is also part of the architectural complex…..TurismoDeCastellon.es
Difficulty: high (15km with 650m elevation gain)
Technical level: medium (mostly single track trails)
Meeting point: Mestalla, entrance on av. Aragón, 9:30 (return to Valencia ~18:00)
Price: 28 euros (25 euros signing up by Sunday, 5.12) / 11 euros coming to Alfondeguilla.
The price includes professional guide, transportation, accident and public liability insurances.
Bring at least 1l of water, lunch, warm clothes and hiking shoes.