Morella is a town of 2,400 people (2018) in Castellón. Tourism is a primary source of income, and the town has been actively taking steps to enable its eventual nomination for listing as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Morella (from Arabic: Maurela) has been inhabited since the earliest of times, as attested by nearby cave paintings and Bronze Age graves. The fortified hilltop which dominates the town has been controlled by many different groups through the ages, including the Iberians, Greeks, Romans, Moors, and finally Christians. Morella was the scene of fierce fighting during the Spanish War of Succession, the Napoleonic Wars, the Carlist Wars, and in the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War. In 1938 Franco's forces seized the town, but Republican guerillas remained active in the nearby mountains until 1956.
During Franco's dictatorship (1939-1975), the population declined dramatically as residents sought employment in the cities, but after the return of democracy it began to rebound.
- 1 Tourist Office, Placet de Sant Miquel, 3, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 16:00-19:00, Su M 10:00-14:00.
The easiest way to get to Morella is by car. The town lies on the regional motorway N-232, about an hour west of Vinaròs.
Parking in the town is severely limited, and unless you have access to a private parking area (e.g. adjacent to a hotel) you must park outside the city walls. The closest 2 car park to the main entrance is located just outside the Porta de Sant Miquel, and a second 3 car park, with more difficult access, is below the castle on the western side of town.
From Castellón, Autos Mediterráneo (☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org) runs a bus twice a day on weekdays and once on Saturdays. The journey takes two and a quarter hours; a full schedule can be downloaded here.
As the town is very small, the easiest way to get around is to walk.
- Muralles Medievals (Murallas Medievales / Medieval Walls). The medieval walls, still standing in their entirety, stretch for more than 2500 m and date mostly from the 13th and 14th centuries, with Moorish foundations. There are fourteen towers, and the town can be entered only through one of the medieval gates.
- 1 Porta de Sant Miquel (Torres de San Miguel / Gate of St. Michael) (main entrance in the north tower). These twin towers guard the main entrance to the town, and were built in the 14th century. Today they are used for temporary exhibits and as an access point to a portion of the wall that is open to the public. Each tower has five floors, and a great view from the top. €1.50 (adults).
- 2 Portal de Sant Mateu.
- 3 Castell de Morella (Castillo de Morella / Morella Castle), Placet de Sant Francesc, 1 (monastery) (entrance in the Franciscan monastery). Winter daily 11:00-18:00, summer daily 11:00-20:00; last admission 1 hr before closing; closed on some public holidays, w/special opening hrs on Corpus Christi and St. Roc Day. This large Moorish castle was largely built in the 13th century atop earlier Iberian and Roman foundations, and later modified during the medieval period. The castle was taken by the mercenary El Cid in 1084, but fell back under Arab control until the arrival of Jaime I and the reconquista in the 13th century. The castle was fought over during a number of later wars, most recently during the Spanish Civil War. Although now mostly in ruins, there are several interpretive exhibits (Spanish only), and there are great views from the top. €3.50 (adults), €1.50 (senior/disabled/childred under 16).
- 4 Convent de Sant Francesc de Morella (Convento de San Francisco / Convent of St. Francis). Winter daily 11:00-18:00, summer daily 11:00-20:00; last admission 1 hr before closing; closed on some public holidays, w/special opening hrs on Corpus Christi and St. Roc Day. A Gothic monastery dating from the 13th and 15th centuries, it operated until seized by the Spanish government and forced to close in the late 19th century. The chapter house is immediately adjacent to the cloister (with a lovely rose garden), and contains several early 15th-century Gothic frescoes including a representation of the Dansa de la Mort ('Dance of Death'). Admission included with entry to the castle.
- 5 Església de Santa Maria la Major (Iglesia de Santa María / Church of St. Mary), Plaça de Benet XIII. Constructed mostly between the 13th and 14th centuries, and completed in the late 16th century, the church is considered to be an excellent example of Valencian Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Especially noteworthy on the exterior of the building are the two main entrances: the larger gate of the Apostles (from the 14th century), and the smaller gate of the Virgin (15th century). Special features inside include the spiral staircase leading to the choir, original stained glass windows from the 14th century, the churrigueresque Baroque altar, and the organ, which is considered to be one of the best in the Valencian Community. Free.
- 6 Església Arciprestal de Santa María (Archpriest Museum of Santa Maria), Plaça de Benet XIII (in the sacristy of the Church of St. Mary). Has a collection of medieval paintings, manuscripts, and religious art from the 15th to 19th centuries. €2.50 (adults), €2 (concessions).
- 7 Aqüeducte de Santa Llúcia (Acueducto de Morella / Séquia Reial). The Gothic aqueduct was built between the 13th and 14th centuries, and repaired in the 15th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It remained in use until the mid-20th centuries, when it was replaced by a more modern system of polyethylene piping system.
- 8 Ajuntament (Ayuntamiento / Town Hall), Carrer Segura Barreda, 28, ☏ . M-F 10:00-14:00. The building dates from the 14th century, and has two Gothic rooms on the ground floor used for art exhibits and cultural events. Free.
- 9 Museu de Dinosaures (Museo de Dinosaurios / Dinosaur Museum), Placet de Sant Miquel, 1 (next to the Church of St. Michael). Winter: Tu-Su 11:00-14:00 16:00-18:00; summer: Tu-Su 11:00-14:00 16:00-19:00. The small museum showcases dinosaur bones and other fossils discovered in the area, and has an interactive exhibit popular with children. €2 (adults), €1.50 (concessions).
- 10 Temps d'Imatge (Tiempo de Imagen / Picture Time), Torre de Beneito. A small museum showcasing historic photographs of Morella in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A number of costumes are also on display.
Morella has a long tradition of herding sheep dating back to at least the 13th century, and is still today known for its woolen textiles. Although no longer produced on an industrial scale, the distinctive striped woolen blankets are still commonly sold throughout the town. Other worthwhile purchases include knitwear, black truffles, and honey.
- 1 Mercadillo (street market), Plaça Pla de Estudi. Th and Sa mornings. A semi-weekly street market for local produce and other goods.
Morella is known for its truffles, which are in season from February to early March. A local special pastry is the flaó (plural: flaons), made with cinnamon, cheese, and almonds.
- 1 Casa Roque, Cuesta San Juan 1 (corner of C/ Segura Barreda), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-F 09:00-16:00 19:30-23:30, Sa 10:00-16:00 19:30-24:00, Su 12:00-16:00. Serves modern versions of regional cuisine, including stews, lamb with truffles, and pastries; it is especially known for truffle dishes. Also offers cooking courses (in Spanish).
- 2 Mesón del Pastor, Costa de Jovani, 7, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Tu Th 13:00-16:30, F Sa 13:00-16:30 21:00-23:00. The family-run restaurant serves Morellan dishes, and is especially known for its olla de recapte, a traditional stew of chickpeas, cecina (a cured meat similar to ham, usually from beef), chicken, and potatoes. Set menu €14.
- 3 Restaurante Daluan, Callejón de La Carcel, 4, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su-Tu Th 13:00-16:00, F Sa 13:00-16:00 21:00-22:30. The small, modern restaurant serves creative cuisine with a focus on seafood. Also has a tapas menu. Set menu €40, wine extra.
- 1 [dead link] Hotel Rey Don Jaime, C/ Juan Giner, 6, ☏ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 08:00-12:00. Has an onsite restaurant which can accommodate vegetarians, and has non-smoking rooms and free Wi-Fi. Doubles from €65 including breakfast; parking €9.50/day.
- 2 Casa Rural José Trullenque, C/ Cuesta Arrapat, s/n, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00-20:00, check-out: 08:00-18:00. Has two holiday apartments, each with kitchenette and fireplace, terrace, and washing machine. Free Wi-fi and free parking; pets permitted for no extra charge. From €70, cash only.