Table of Contents
- Starting at the Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport
- What to See in Morella
- What to Do in Morella
- Where to Eat in Morella
- Hotels in Morella
If you want to vacation somewhere that’s not only a lot of fun to explore but also jaw-droppingly beautiful, you should try Morella, in Spain. It’s repeatedly been voted one of the prettiest villages in Spain and, visually impressive as it is from a distance, its beauty is even greater from down in its streets. And while you see the sights, you can explore Morella’s folklore, history, and gastronomic delights.
Starting at the Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport
Your Morella experience begins at the Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport, which is about 30 miles outside of the village. And that’s a good thing, because it allows you to see the village the way it should be seen: first as a sweeping vista that shows of Morella’s grandeur, and then closer and closer, until you are swallowed up in the experience of it. So once you get through customs, head straight for the car rental agency, conveniently located within the airport.
Morella is a medieval village, and the first thing you notice as you approach it are the stone fortifications surrounding it and the enormous castle on a hill rising over everything, looking like the castle is growing out of the hill’s native stone. Although the castle dwarfs the wall around the town, once you draw close, your perspective flips, and you realize just how huge those ancient stone walls surrounding the town really are. Once you are in the city, it is like being in another time.
What to See in Morella
There are a lot of things you can do in Morella. Here are some of the can’t-miss points of interest for you to explore at your own pace.
The Heart of Town
The heart of Morella is a treasure trove of delights. There all kinds of local crafts to buy, especially the famous, colorful, handmade Morella blankets, and more tasty treats than you can healthily sample in a single day. The meringues are heavenly. The meat dishes are savory. The local bread shouldn’t be missed and should be paired with the local truffle goat cheese. But you really have to try the flaons, which are kind of like a cross between a tart and a cheesecake.
The Castle and Walls
You can’t go to Morella without going to see the castle that overlooks the town. Rebuilt in the 11th century by the legendary Castilian knight, El Cid, it is actually a lot older than that, with the original fortifications most likely made by the Romans. The castle itself is a great walkthrough, and it provides an interesting window into a world centuries in the past. However, it is the view from the top that is the real attraction. The panoramic view of the mountain range and the red-roofed town of Morella falling away from the castle and sprawling out down and around the hill is truly incredible.
The defensive walls around the town are an excellent example of 14th century architecture, with plenty of towers and gigantic gates. You could spend a whole day exploring them and still not be done. You are sure to catch all kinds of interesting views of both the town and the natural world outside it from the wall’s many vantage points.
The Cave Paintings
Just a few miles out of town lies the Morella la Vella farmhouse, home to some of the first settlers in the area. It is also the location of cave paintings showing hunting and other activities from prehistoric times. It also has the world’s oldest painting of archery combat, the record of a war long since lost to time. It has been designated as a world heritage site.
The Dinosaur Museum
Did you know that Morella is famous for its dinosaurs? The clays of Morella formed in the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous eras, and those times left behind a wealth of fossils of both sea-going and land-dwelling creatures fossilized in them. Many different kinds of dinosaurs have been found there, including giant herbivors like the Iguanodon and a variety of carnivorous theropods. The Temps de Dinosaures Museum was built to showcase the fossil discoveries that have been made in Morella. Besides the fossils themselves there is a life-sized, life-like dinosaur statue and a variety of educational exhibits.
What to Do in Morella
Take a Guided Tour
You might enjoy taking a guided tour of the town. It will not only show you many of the interesting and beautiful parts of Morella, the guide will put it all in context for you. That way, you’ll learn something about the rich history of Morella, its folklore, and its everyday life. If you really want to get a feel for the city, this can be a good way to do it. It’s also a good way to sample the local food and see the local handcrafts.
Take the Monarch Butterfly Tour
If you like butterflies and you arrive during the monarch butterfly season then you should check out the monarch butterfly tour. It’s an all day excursion, departing from Morella, which travels around to various places where monarchs can be seen in abundance. The tour guides are certified ecotourism specialists who are very knowledgeable about environmental issues and the monarchs, and they are able to bring a very intellectual depth to the tour.
Go for a Night Walk
Morella has a vibrant night life. The whole town is brightly lit then, and full of activity. One of the great pleasures of being in Morella is going out for a walk through its cobblestone streets at night and just soaking up the atmosphere of the place. And maybe finding some interesting restaurants or bars along the way.
Go Mountain Biking
Morella is situated in a truly beautiful mountainous region of Spain. There are plenty of bike paths across the more scenic areas around the village, and you can rent mountain bikes at many locations in town. Whether you like to explore as far as you can or ride out to a nearby point of interest and have a picnic, the trip will be well worth your while.
Attend the Sexenni
If you’re lucky enough to visit Morella at the right time, you can witness the Sexenni. This is a major festival honoring the Virgin de Vallivana which the town only holds once every six years, in August. The whole town is decorated with ornaments and tapestries during this time. The festival begins with a solemn religious pilgrimage for the Virgin, which is followed by nine days of dancing, parades, and general celebration.
Go to L’Anunci
L’Anunci is another festival celebrated once every six years. In fact, it is celebrated the year before the Sexenni, and is in fact a ritual announcement that the Sexenni will soon be celebrated. L’Anunci is celebrated on the first three Sundays in the August of that year. During this festival, hand-crafted dolls called Ninots are arranged around the town to showcase aspects of everyday life in Morella, and three special dolls are hung from a tree limb over a main street. These dolls dance in response to nearby music and parades.
See the Festes de Sant Roc
If you want a festival that is celebrated a little more frequently, try the Festes de Sant Roc, which is celebrated in the middle of every August. There are street parties, orchestras, brass bands, bull runs, and bull fights. It is a very noisy, joyous celebration.
Where to Eat in Morella
Morella is famous for its food. If you want to see why, just check out any of these restaurants:
La Fonda is famous for its upscale dining experience. It is particularly well known for its seafood options, but diners also rave about the lamb. The salad is an unusually popular item because of the salad dressing. It is made according to a secret recipe, a specialty of the house, and it lends any salad an unusual, subtle flavor. Desserts like the mango cheesecake have to be tasted to be believed. The presentation of the food is every bit as incredible as the food itself is, too.
The Vinatea is famous for its ambience and décor as much as it is for its food. The house specialty is Shoulder of Kid, a savory goat dish that is not to be missed. The trotters are a local specialty that it does very well. The Meze appetizers are also very well thought of. The house wine is a particularly good example of Morella winemaking.
Daluan offers both indoor dining and outdoor dining on a terrace that takes up almost the entire street. The restaurant is well known for its modern takes on traditional Morellan dishes, takes that remain true to the original while offering something new, as well. The roast shoulder of lamb is very well regarded. The restaurant has more than a dozen dishes based around truffles, and sometimes it has themed events dedicated to truffles and local mushrooms.
El Meson del Pastor
This restaurant is a hidden gem, located down one of Morella’s stair streets. It strives to offer different dishes than the other restaurants in Morello do, so if you’re looking for something different, this is the place to go. Diners praise the lamb cutlets and chicken escabeche salad. The layered chocolate mousse makes for a truly unbelievable dessert.
Cardenal RAM Restaurant
The restaurant located in the Cardenal RAM hotel is known for its simple, traditional food done well. Offerings include local ham, pork loin in mushroom sauce, and duck confit. The coffee is particularly good.
Hotels in Morella
There are many great places to stay in Morella. You should be happy at any of these fine establishments:
If you don’t want to stay in “just another hotel,” try the Casa Lea. It is a large, traditional Morellan house that has been split into apartments for short term rental. The apartments are built for comfort, and all of them have incredible views. Instead of staying in a hotel for your vacation, you can live like a native Morellan at the Casa Lea.
The Cardenal RAM is a rustic-themed hotel conveniently located in the heart of Morella. It’s very near the castle, and it has an excellent restaurant that specializes in local dishes. The hotel is famous for its special offers and promotions, and because of them, tends to have very low prices. Despite the central location, the hotel is surprisingly quiet.
La Fonda Moreno
La Fonda Moreno is a smaller hotel, but what it lacks in size, in makes up for in personal attention. It is located right next to the castle, the defensive wall, and the famous Santa María la Mayor Basilic Church.
Every room in the El Cid has a balcony and a fantastic view. The in-hotel restaurant serves complimentary wine and soft drinks with every meal. Gluten free menu options are available. It has parking spaces for guests, which is not available everywhere in Morella, and secure storage for bikes.
The Cases Ruralmorella is a restored farm just outside the walls of Morella. The buildings have been converted into apartments for guests to stay in. If you want to experience some traditional Morella rural living, the Cases Ruralmorella is the place for you. Bike rentals are available for exploring the countryside.
Font d’en Torres
The Font d’en Torres is a farmhouse that has been converted into a hotel. It’s located just a few miles outside of the city walls, and it has some excellent mountain views. It is situated near some excellent biking and hiking trails. This is an adults-only hotel, and it has a very romantic atmosphere.
Go to Morella if you want a truly unique vacation experience. From its architectural marvels to its gastronomic delights, you’re sure to find things to intrigue and inspire you. You’ll treasure the memories of the time you spend here forever.