A typical Mediterranean town, Traiguera is best known for its beautiful, historical Font de la Salud – Fountain of Health. This gorgeous spot, which is steeped in history and religion, is 2km out of the town itself, and is also where the tourist office is based. However as striking as this place is, and as beautiful as the routes that you can do around it are, the town of Traiguera itself should not be missed.
The town has a long traceable history and its people have lived their lives, down through numerous generations making their livelihood from a combination of agriculture and Artisan work. In fact there’s a plaque in the Font de la Salud that states the following: “Work with Efficiency and Love” …obviously in the local dialect. What I find charming about Traiguera is the stonework that you can see on various buildings dotted around the town, and its marvellous location embraced in nature and only 15 minutes drive away from the seaside.
The population of the town is a little over 1600, and it’s no different to any of the other villages and towns in these areas, in the sense that there’s a huge amount of pride and focus in their fiestas. There are a few of these spread throughout the year, but each year the patron-Virgen de la Asunción y San Roque (Virgin of the Assumption and Saint Roque) is honoured in a serious celebration that runs from around 13th August until 23rd August.
The reality is that if you didn’t need to work you could actually travel your way around from Fiesta to Fiesta, in particular during the summertime this is especially true. In the village where we live – Sant Rafael del Riu – even though the population is around 550, during the third week of July, the fiesta in honour of the Virgin Carmen also runs for 10 days, and includes lots of different activities and plenty of partying. The same applies for lots of villages and towns in these areas. In reality they all support each other and of course visitors come also.
The evidence of the art and culture of Traiguera can be easily absorbed wandering around the town, where apart from the stonework, the pottery tradition, which is over 1000 years old also jumps out at you, as you notice flowerpots, jugs, tubs and casseroles dotted here and there. The agricultural lifestyle touches you as you pass by an abundance of olive trees, almond trees and orange groves. Apart from going to the Font de la Salut (Fountain of Health), which you can see just below, at a certain point in the short journey from the town to the Fountain of Health there was an awkward point in the road where you get magnificent views down over the countryside to the coast.
A few comments about the pride and preparation that goes into the fiestas, because whatever some foreigners might say about the Spanish and the mañana mentality, when it comes to fiestas this is so not the case.
Having lived in quite a few different villages and towns in Spain since 2003, I can say that there is no lack of efficiency when it comes to getting the Fiesta up and running here. Although many of the fiestas will actually have roots in religion, the 21st century version of them tends to be a combination of a certain amount of religion, which of course is important for those who are religious and to honour the origins, along with plenty of entertainment normally suited for all the family, and plenty of partying. You can check out some of the obvious preparations around try care that I spotted just before the August Fiesta. The menu board is for Breakfast, Snack or Dinner ..in that order!
Unless you have an issue with mountain roads, it would be a real shame not to visit Morella when in this area. It is one of the towns voted to be one of a small selection of Spain’s Prettiest Towns. It is only 45km from Traiguera, however it’s not a quick drive, so it should take you around 45 minutes or so. Find out more about this majestic town by clicking on Morella Travel Guide.
Traiguera Brief History
The name Traiguera was not the original name of this town, it was originally known as Thiar Julia during the Iberian period. It had belonged, between the 6th – 1st centuries BC, to the Ilercavones. When the Romans came later they had little resistance to deal with, and we know that Traiguera remained important during this period as the Via Augusta passes through it, and also because of a range of archaeological finds that have been discovered.
Muslim occupation left its mark between the years 718 to 1232, at which stage the land was conquered by King James I and like a range of towns in this area, went initially under the control of the Order of the Hospital, later being passed to the Order of Montesa.
Evidence of Traiguera’s importance is obvious because the town was invited both in 1411 and 1421, to be part of Les Corts, which was the autonomous parliament based in Valencia. Traiguera entered a bit of a golden age because of its agriculture and trade sparking an economic boom during the 16th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the town like many others in this area, also played its own role in historical happenings of that time.
Things To Do
Ajuntamiento de Traiguera – Traiguera City Hall
Traiguera City Hall is originally a 15th century Gothic building which has mullioned windows and a pointed arch in the gateway. It is popularly called the – Sala de la Vila – which means the Sitting Room of the Town, where the City Council have their sessions and deliberations. It still retains a Gothic window from the original building, and its facade was restored in 1993 by La Escuela Taller – the local artisan school.
Capilla de San Jaima – Chapel of St. James
Plaza del Raval
This Chapel dates to the 16th century, but today ever since 1989 it has been used for the place where the pensioners gather. It originally belonged to the brotherhood of St James, traditionally made up of potters, and the Plaza del Raval had developed due to urban growth, as the activity of the potters had expanded. It was in this area where they had located their workshops and kilns.
Iglesia Parroquial de la Asunción – Traiguera Parish Church of the Assumption
Plaza de la Iglesia – Church Square
I have to let you into a secret, before I started taking photographs I wasn’t a big fan of churches – having grown up in Catholic Ireland at a period where we still had to have shame and guilt, in connection with our bodies and ourselves to some extent, as part of our religion.
The impact churches have on me has now completely changed, and each time I go to see a church here in these areas, and even now when I go back home to Dublin, it has a whole different effect on me. In terms of its environment, the church of Traiguera is well impressive when you see its natural setting. Obviously it’s not a Cathedral in the capital city, but what is striking about it is its majesty, stonework and various elements, which are extra impressive because of the setting of the streets, and the size of this small town.
Not much is known about the early church which would have been built during the 13th century, but most likely it was a simple temple and it was in 1374 that the council decided have extended and in the 15th century this actually began. The present church was actually completed in 1622, with the exception of one section. Some restoration work was carried out in 2003.
It has a single nave with four bays and side chapels, which are interconnected and covered with vaults. The Presbytery is polygonal and has sacristies on both sides, which can be accessed by beautiful Renaissance facades.
The bell tower was built by Bartolomé Durán, who was a master builder who came from the local town of San Mateo, and he started its construction on 10 April 1400, finishing work on 5 May 1403.
Real Santuario Virgen Fuente de la Salud – Royal Sanctuary Virgin Fountain of Health
In 2007 this was declared a monument of artistic and historical value. It was built because of this legend:
In the summer of 1384 two shepherds from the village of Cervera were in the area, and one was a deaf mute. He was thirsty so he went to look for water, and he asked the Virgin for help. Suddenly a herd of goats emerged from behind bushes, all of them with their beards wet. So the deaf mute shepherd went to the source and found clear water. As he was drinking he saw the image of the Virgin in the background, so he called his brother. His voice had come back.
He thanked the Virgin for the miracle and went to Traiguera to explain what had happened. The people of Traiguera went in a procession to find the Virgin to bring her to the village church, however the next day the Virgin had disappeared and was in fact back in the original spot. Therefore it was decided to build a chapel to venerate her on the spot.
The reality is that this is not only a chapel that was built in honour of this miracle, it’s a complex which consists of the small chapel, included in the lower part of where the Hospice is next to the fountain, the church, the Hospice which formed part of the temple and was under the protection of the Bishop of Segorbe, between 1531 and 1536. Then there is La Casa “dels Capellans” – which literally translates into the House of the Priests, which dates to 1570, this was where the central organisation of everything took place. Today you’ll find a lovely restaurant in its place, with a delightful courtyard. And finally the Palace of the Duke Alfonso of Aragon.
The complex of buildings that you can see today basically belongs to the 16th century. This consists of the church (15th – 18th centuries), Casa dels Capellan (16th century), the Hospice (16th century), the Dukes Palace (16th century), and the cross term called “Prigo Cobert” (16th century).
So although the architecture is of Gothic origin, you can also notice Baroque and Renaissance additions. It stands out as being the only one in its environment which enjoyed Royal safekeeping, granted by Charles V in 1542, and later renewed by Philip II, then to be confirmed by Papal Bull in 1555. Also during the 16th century it enjoyed a range of different privileges, favours and donations in this time of its great splendour.
This complex is considered one of the jewels in the province of Castellon, and without knowing any of the details about its history or culture, it’s hard not to be impressed by its majesty of beauty, surrounded by lush nature.
The original church dates to 1439, but was later re-modelled during the 18th century. It has a single nave with four bays, which are separated by arches.
If you’re tempted to do what the average tourist or traveller could do, you might gravitate over towards the tourist office which is on the right hand side. As you head that way you’ll see the shrine to Our Lady into the right, and once you go inside it is also really beautiful. The pleasant man working there explain to me that this was the space that the pilgrims would rest and gather before or after pilgrimages. I was particular taken by the amazing roof that you see when you go to the part of the room that is beyond where the tourist office desk is. You can see the pictures here. Although they didn’t turn out quite as clearly as I would’ve liked, when you go there in person you notice that the small little skylight in the top of this unusual roof does appear to be styled with a couple of stars.
The complex is full of highlights and photo opportunities, but the restaurant – Casa dels Capellans (House of the Priests) – has gone up towards the top of my wish list, as it had a really good feeling about it. I didn’t take photos inside the restaurant, as we weren’t eating their religious wandering round, which you can also see photos below of the courtyard and the area outside the restaurant. The most recent reviews on TripAdvisor are headlined with phrases such as – “One of the finest meals I’ve ever eaten” and “Great food and delightful setting”. Set menus range from €20 to €30 as far as I could gather from the information.
One thing that struck me was although I don’t know much about the history of how life would have been for the priests who were there, but at least they had gorgeous surroundings!
Click on the name to open their website, there is some English on it: Casa dels Capellans Restaurant Traiguera
Museo Parroquial – Traiguera Parish Museum
Located inside the church is one of the richest parish museums of the province, with works of great beauty and importance.
Museo Municipal Ceramica Traiguera – Municipal Ceramic Museum Traiguera
In August 2014 this was undergoing some work, I’ll keep an eye on this and this section when I know more.