This article was collaborated on with local resident & financial consultant, Lydia Orero Borrás
The province of Castellon has many hidden gems, that are, as yet, not that well known by the average English speaking tourist. Among these is the wonderful town of Segorbe, in the south of the province of Castellon. Segorbe is a special place that takes you back almost immediately to medieval times, yet still lurking in its corners are the remnants of different cultures, who also enjoyed Segorbe, such as the Romans, Muslims and Christians.
What strikes the visitor, is how the Muslim occupation and the establishment of the Catholic Church (as diocesan headquarters) is still palpable around the town. Walking through the old town of medieval character, we can see how two such different cultures passed by.
In addition to the significant presence of the Catholic Church, which led to the construction of numerous churches, seminaries and the cathedral, when you head to the top of the village, there are more treats in store for you. Wander along by the remains of the ancient wall which brings you to the Paseo de Sopena – a small road that leads to the remains of the medieval Segorbe Castle. Today there are only two towers, fragments of what was once the castle and its surroundings; moreover, recent excavations have led to discover more parts of it.
Apart from the huge religious influence, there’s evidence of how Segorbe also benefited from technical progress during different periods. This evidence includes a Roman reservoir, an ancient laundry and a great medieval aqueduct. The town is washed by the river Palancia and embraced by fertile plains. It is a landscape that offers peaceful walks in nature along the riverbanks, discovering fountains and banks of reeds.
Of course the religious impact is remarkable, however Segorbe is a great base for nature lovers, plus it is only around 45 km (28 miles) from the coast and 58 km (36 miles) from the wonderful city of Valencia. It would be a real shame not to get there for at least a day trip.
When in Segorbe you can also visit an Olive Oil musuem, plus go to the Bull and Horse Droving interpretation centre, where the show is rated as being of International Tourist Interest. Like so many of the other towns in this province, There’s no shortage of fiestas on, so do consider trying to arrange your visit to overlap with ones of these. It’s a super way to immerse yourself in one of the traditions. The one pictured above in the first photo is the Festival of Bulls and Horses.
If you’re wondering if there’s anything special to buy in Segorbe, the craft traditions of pottery and cane walking sticks are very important. Even if you don’t need a walking cane now, you may know of someone who would like one, or maybe just buy an elegant walking cane, as they come in so many different shapes and woods, with lovely carved handles.
This municipality was firstly inhabited a long time ago, archeologists found evidence that it dates from the mid-Palaeolithic Age. Over the centuries it was ruled by the Visigoths, Romans, Christians, Muslims, and later it became a part of the Aragon Kingdom. In fact during the 8th century when it was under Moorish rule, its cathedral converted into a mosque.
Things To Do
The Medieval Aqueduct is an exquisite work of the Arab world’s engineering that dates to 11th to 12th centuries. It indicates how Arabs could solve the problem of water transportation from an area to another. When you visit these days, what you will see is the ogival arches that, in fact, belong to the 14th century. Later on in the 19th century one of the arches was removed to make room to widen the road.
Ayuntamiento Segorbe-Antiguo Palacio Ducal-Town Hall-Old Ducal Palace
Constructed in the 16th century, the Segorbe Town Hall was originally the Palace of the Dukes of Segorbe. It was King Alfonso of Aragon and Sicily who had ordered its construction in the 16th century, and it was bought in 1864 by the Town Council. When you visit, you can still admire two Mudéjar style pieces, one of which is the assembly room’s coffered wooden ceiling, and the other is the door which has a tracery pattern. It also has three impressive entrance ways that are made with jasper and marble.
Castillo de la Estrella-Castle of the Star
Located on the hill of Sopeña, which was so important for around 1000 years as Alto Palancia’s central seat of power, where kings and nobles lived, was one of the main defensive centres in the municipality. Today there’s little sign of these glorious times, because during the 18th century it was demolished due to its state, and the materials used in the Cathedral and the Casa de la Misericordia. These days it is an outdoor park where people can enjoy nature.
Torre de la Carcel-Prison Tower
It is believed that the Prison Tower was constructed during the 14th century and it’s a great example of towers that were built by the doors of city walls for protection, as they were always the weakest point. It is 21.3 metres high, with octagonal sections in the interior and a spiral staircase to reach the terrace, that is embedded in the wall.
Torre de Verdugo-Executioner’s Tower
Features seem to point to this tower being built in the 14th century, possibly connected with the battles between Royalist and Unionist troops. The Executioner’s Tower is 18.65 metres in height, and is has a wider diameter than the Torre de la Carcel (Prison Tower) at 1.75 metres.
Arco de la Veronia-The Arch of Veronica
Historians can’t agree upon the time of completion of the Arch of Veronica, although there are elements that are typical of Moorish construction. However some historians believe it was completed during Roman times whereas others belive it was finished in the Medieval period. Regardless of this, it has beautiful craftmanship.
Centres Of Interpretation
Centro de Interpretación Torres de Segorbe-Interpretation Centre of the Towers of Segorbe
The Interpretation Centre is spread across the Prison and Executioner’s Tower. This is where you can appreciate the changes of the city throughout various ages, and encounter some of the city’s important historic figures along the way. On one hand you can enjoy great views over the area, but on the other hand you may find yourself imagining the fate of a wrongly accused prisoner!
Cathedral Basilica of Segorbe
Don’t miss the artistic ensemble of the Segorbe Cathedral, which is made up of the Church, the Cloister, the Cathedral Museum and the Bell Tower. The Cathedral Basilica of Segorbe is located where there used to be a mosque built by Moors. In the 12th century, at the city’s southern wall, the cathedral was built in the Gothic style, but in later centuries it was elongated to the north. Further renovation work was carried out in the 18th century, which was in tune with the Enlightenment trends of that period. Materials were used from the demolished Castle of Sopeña at this time, and the Cathedral Basilica of Segorbe is considered to be the purest example of religious architecture of the Academic style in Spain.
Iglesia de San Joaquín y Santa Ana-Church of San Joaquin and Santa Ana
A wonderful example of Baroque exuberance, the Church of San Joaquin and Santa Ana was consecrated in 1695. Located on Calle Purísima, outside there’s an interesting combination of proportions, with drama and depth added by the steep stairs that lead to the entrance of the church. Inside there’s an abundance of beauty with sgrafitto, cherubs, stucco carving, leaf motifs and more fine decorative elements.
Iglesia de San Pedro-Church of San Pedro
On Calle Gracia, the Church of San Pedro is the town’s oldest, being blessed in 1247. Its original Reconquista style is hard to spot, as there were a number of reforms down throughout later centuries. The presbytery was built in the 16th century, and in the 19th century the Communion Chapel was added.
Iglesia San Martín-Church of San Martin
Located in the Plaza de las Monjas, the Church of San Martin dates to 1620, and is predominantly of a rather sober, pre-Baroque style. Inside there is a Jacomart Gothic altarpiece, along with altars with gilded wood carving.
Iglesia de los Padres Franciscanos-Church of the Franciscan Friars
A fine example of Neo-Gothic Architecture, the Church of the Franciscan Friars dates to the 19th century. You can find it on Calle Bonifacio Ferrer.
Iglesia de Santa María-Parish Church of Santa Maria
The Parish Church of Santa Maria is the only remnant of what was the old convent of the Dominican Friars and the School of Saint Paul, which was built in the 17th century. Its Latin cross plan, along with its galleries and dome over the chapels are reminiscent of what we can see in a Jesuit Church.
Seminario-Diocesan Minor Seminary
A Baroque style building, which was built in 1635, and belonged to the Jesuits, up until they were suppressed in Spain, in 1771. An impressive ensemble, with a remarkable church, a residence and school which overlook the gardens, all of which is dominated by a beautiful, large dome.
Museo de Arqueologia y Etnología-Local Museum of Archeology and Ethnology
King Charles IV ordered this wonderful building to be constructed in 1792, with the purpose of housing the troops, who defended Segorbe. In the archaeology section, visitors can appreciate the many different periods and cultures that inhabited the area. In chronological order, you can visit the Paleolithic room, the Copper and Bronze age room, the Iberian Culture room and the Roman and Middle ages room. Appreciate the tools used by man throughout the ages, and in the etymology section, the tools show us how the lifestyle and work was during these periods.
Museo Catedralico-Cathedral Museum
Within the Valencian Community, it is the Segorbe Cathedral Museum which offers one of the most important holy art collections. It is home to some especially impresive altarpieces of the Gothic style, along with a wonderful collection of precious metalwork, sculptures and paintings. Perhaps the highlight of the collection could be considered to be the “Madonna with Child” fashioned out of Carrara marble, by Donatello, the great Italian master. However the collection is impressively rich, and includes many other important works.
Criptas de la Catedral-Cathedral Crypt
In the Crypt of the Cathedral some of the most important Diocesan canons, deans and members of the Valero family are lying in their eternal rest, since the 13th century.
Museo del Aceite-Olive Oil Museum of Segorbe
Enter the golden liquid world of olive oil that communicates the Mediterreanean essence of Segorbe, that is more than 7000 years old. Experience and learn about the olive oil elaboration process through the exhibition of tools and machinery, and an interactive audiovisual system. The museum is housed in the Belluga old oil mill.
Centro de Interpretación Entrade de Toros y Caballos-The Interpretation Centre of Bull and Horse Droving
Definitely a unique experience, the tour takes you through the various stages of bull and horse droving. The centre has a space to see old films about this theme, as well as a big circular projection system where visitors can feel the emotions of the Segorbe bull and horse droving.
At an altitude of 386-metres above sea level, the municipality of Segorbe is located in the province of Castellon, in the Valencian community, and is the capital of the Alto Palencia. It is crossed by the Palancia River, and is surrounded by magnificent ravines and several mountains, including the Sierra de Espada from the north, and the Sierra de Calderona, and Porta Coeli from the south. Thanks to the magnificent location of the municipality of Segorbe, visitors can enjoy natural beauty close to the city.
The Sierra Calderona Natural Park
This park was declared a Special Protection Area because of the rare and varied species of fauna that you may see there. For example, the Ocellated lizard, Montpellier snake, the Viperine water snake, and the Snub-nosed adder. Also, there are wonderful species of birds such as the Bonelli’s eagle, Short-toed eagle, Common buzzard, Common kestrel, Little owl, Tawny owl, and the Eurasian eagle-owl. The park of Sierra Calderona is characterised by pine forests, particularly the Aleppo pine trees. Other typical species are wild asparagus, oak trees, heather, rosemary and gorse.
The Palancia River crosses the municipality of Segorbe, giving visitors a great chance to enjoy hiking and having a relaxing time in restaurants on its banks, enjoying some magical landscapes.
The Fountain of 50 Spouts
Not far from the city, near the river you can find the especially interesting Fountain of 50 Spouts.
The Segobriga Park
Whether you decide to stay in Segorbe or are based somewhere within reach, the Segobriga Park is a great day out for your children. This is a water park with a medieval theme, that transports both the younger and older family members into the past. There’s plenty to do in this water park, which is situated on the San Blas mountain peak.