The Gazette of Masía Aitona

Villafamés, the "roca grossa" village

                                            
Perched on top of a hill, and crowned by a castle of clay rock, is Villafamés, less than a quarter of an hour by car from Masía Aitona. A town that appears in the list of the most beautiful in Spain and, without a doubt, one of the towns that must be visited if we travel to the province of Castellón. https://www.lospueblosmasbonitosdeespana.org/comunidad-valenciana/vilafames.

 

 

Its location is perhaps one of the most attractive aspects.  The rock becomes a village, it is as if instead of a mountain, nature had sculpted Villafamés to its size. Of the three most visited villages in the province: Morella, Peñíscola, and Villafamés, this is the smallest but not the least interesting.

 

 

“A mass of red clay stone that surprises the traveler. Villafamés among olive trees, vineyards and dry stone terraces. Witness of conquests and reconquests, Carlist wars, and the resistance of the Republican side in the civil war. Red rock and blue Mediterranean sky”.

 

 

To start the visit, the most advisable thing to do, and in fact, what is allowed in high season, is to park the car in the municipal car park set up in the most accessible area. From this well indicated area, as you enter the town centre, on the right hand side, you start the ascent on foot, towards the small main square, from where you really start the ascent towards the castle.

“A mass of red clay stone that surprises the traveler. Villafamés among olive trees, vineyards and dry stone terraces. Witness of conquests and reconquests, Carlist wars, and the resistance of the Republican side in the civil war. Red rock and blue Mediterranean sky”.


The first surprise we find on the way up carrer de la Font is the colossal “Roca grossa”, weighing 2,163 kilos and with a volume of 832 m3. It doesn’t stop the traveller but it does seem to warn of the imminent danger of falling if you don’t take care of your surroundings.


Nobody knows how or why it is there, legend has it that if you caress the rock you can ask for three wishes, although the “grossa” will only grant you one of them. Another legend from the lands of l’Alcalatén…


Once you have made your wishes, continue your ascent along carrer de la Font, which is flanked by some terraces and souvenir shops where they sell local wine and oil of good reputation and better quality.


The streets become narrower and narrower, forming a medieval Jewish quarter that leads to the main church and the castle-fortress. Streets with whitewashed walls, with reddish stone and ivy finishes that hide the coats of arms of some palatial houses.


A town of painters, Villafamés also has a Museum of Contemporary Art: https://www.macvac.es/. It is worth stopping off to visit it and contemplate the works of local authors, such as the hyper-realist still lifes of Claudia de Vilafamés, from the school of Antonio López. https//claudiadevilafames.net/ .


We then continue our walk until we reach an esplanade that precedes the main entrance of the Iglesia Mayor in honour of the Virgen de la Asunción. The views from there to the village and the whole surroundings are simply spectacular. If we decide to enter the church, we will find a construction from the end of the 16th century, in baroque style.

 

Every effort is rewarded, and if the prize is to improve even more what has already been achieved, reaching the top of Villafamés is a gift for the five senses. Just in front of the access to the castle, there is a small square, which barely has a bench to sit on, called “Plaza de la sangre”(The blood square). I personally love this place, it is not usually crowded and offers unique views over the main tower of the castle of Arab origin.


It was conquered by Jaime I, the founder of the Valencian Community, in 1235. From the Arabs it passed to the Order of the Temple and later to the Maestrazgo of Montesa. During the Carlist Wars, this town also played a leading role as it was the scene of several confrontations between the Elizabethans and the troops of Cabrera (the Lion of the Carlist Maestrazgo), Serrador and Forcadell.


As well as from the outside of the church, the panoramic views from the castle are impressive. It was certainly worth the effort to get there. And as it is not only from the view that man lives, to recover the strength we have consumed in climbing to the top, we can always try the culinary delights of Villafamés.


We go back down the narrow streets to the square, and on any of the terraces located there, or in the Calle de la Font, we can start with some good wines from the local cellars and some fried almonds with oil and salt as an aperitif.


Afterwards, we cannot leave Villafamés without trying the olleta, tombet or a good grilled meat with aioli (garlic mayonaise). And of course, the colophon, with its almond desserts, and its famous “coca de harina”(flour cake).
You want to visit Villafamés, don’t you?

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