Legend has it that in this village, located at the foot of the Penyagolosa, the second peak of the Valencian community, and built on the top of a rock, the Muslims, several centuries ago, hid a treasure in a cave. This treasure is in safekeeping, guarded by a bull-man who has since watched over the loot tirelessly. No one has been able to recover it so far, and whoever succeeds will be rewarded with a solid gold bull, if he manages to defeat the guardian.
The treasure is supposedly hidden and protected, in a cave known as the “Eagle’s Rock”. It can only be found at a certain time of year. As the centuries pass and the legend lives on, the “Golden Bull” is still hidden in the bowels of a cave. Who knows? Maybe one day the legend will come true and we will see a real bull heading from Chodos to the top of the Penyagolosa´s peak.
From Masía Aitona to the Sanctuary of San Juan de Penyagolosa you can go in two ways, along the CV 170, passing through Atzeneta to Vistabella del Maestrazgo, or also through Chodos, a shorter route but not recommended, unless you feel like driving along dirt tracks, and blessing yourself all the way on… Although, if your visit ends up in Chodos, it is already worth getting to this town and walking through its cobbled streets.
“The legend lives on, the “Golden Bull” is still hidden in the bowels of a cave. Who knows? Maybe one day the legend will come true and we will see a real bull heading from Chodos to the top of the Penyagolosa´s peak”.
At 1063 metres above sea level, you will find Xodos. A natural preamble to the peak of the “great stone lady of the Maestrazgo”, the Penyagolosa, to which I will dedicate an entire chapter in the Gaceta de Masía Aitona.
Of Arab origin, Chodos or Xodos in Valencian, it belonged to the tinença de l’Alcalatén, at present, what is known as the region of l’Alcalatén. After the Conquest, the lordship was granted by King Jaime I to Ximén de Urrea II, an Aragonese nobleman and son of the first lord of l’Alcalatén, who granted him a town charter on 17th June 1254.
Due to the remains of the wall, the town must have been completely walled, although only the Tower keep has been preserved. To reach this cubic tower, it is advisable to walk, as the streets in the upper part of the town are too narrow and steep to go by car. Its origin is not written, but due to its characteristics we could go back to the 11th and 12th centuries in the period of the Taifas Kingdoms, when the Arab occupation was expanding through the north and west of the province.
Today only four outer walls remain in very poor conditions, with their centre invaded by vegetation.
In better condition is the Parish Church of San Pedro. Also in the highest area of Chodos, are concentrated: this church with three altars with its bell tower, a portal tower, a porticoed entrance on which rests the famous “Callis” and access through the main street to the viewpoint that is located on a cliff from which you can enjoy incredible panoramic views.
Chodos is an obligatory stop on the route travelled by pilgrims from Les Useres every April on their way up to the Sanctuary of San Juan de Penyagolosa. An ancestral pilgrimage that has been declared a “good of immaterial cultural interest of the Comunitat”. Another event that deserves a full chapter in the Gaceta de Masía Aitona.
If you still have the strength to continue walking and discovering Chodos and its surroundings, a good alternative is to follow the “Route of Masías and shepherds”. This route of moderate difficulty and 16 kms long runs along bridle paths and old cattle tracks. We are not talking about a very dizzying ascent but it is recommended to wear good footwear and have a minimum experience as a hiker. The landscapes are wild, hard, but at the same time of an immeasurable magnitude.
As in the rest of the villages around Masía Aitona, in Xodos it is also worth recovering your strength in one of its two restaurants. In the Casa Anna Rural Hotel, or the Porcar bar-restaurant, the food is traditional and homemade in both cases. The typical dish is the Olleta (a traditional stew with vegetables and pork). And as star products, the grilled meats such as lamb and rabbit stand out, or the dishes cooked with robellones (mushrooms), ham dried in the ground, snails or the traditional ‘perol’ (a cooked product of pork, with cheeks, tongue and pork kidneys.
And to finish the trip, in Masia Aitona we will be waiting for you, when you return, with a hot chocolate, in front of the fireplace if you visit Chodos in autumn or winter, or with a very fresh beer if you visit in summer or spring. Do you fancy the idea?