The district of Alt Maestrat, in the interior of the province of Castellón, tells many beautiful stories about breathtaking panoramas and thousands of years of history.
This comarca (small province) consisting in several villages and large natural territories is one of the most important touristic destinations in the Valencian Community. The village of Ares del Maestrat sits on an imposing rocky mass, an enclave with privileged views of the rugged landscape of the region. Together with Benassal, it keeps one of the greatest vestiges of prehistoric culture that has survived to this day: the Remigia Cave, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, with its 7,000 years’ old cave paintings.
Another cave, Racó de Nando in Benassal, shows visitors Paleolithic engravings – human figures, represented by the archetypal archer, animals and hunting scenes of different nature make up the bulk of the artistic-prehistoric treasure of the Alt Maestrat. You can enjoy this in 4D via an online project available here. Culla was a Muslim settlement until the Reconquest, when it became part of the Crown of Aragon and, later, the Order of the Temple to whom it was sold. The presence of the Knights Templar in the municipality is full of legends and mysteries and, on them, many of the buildings that we can currently visit, such as the hermitage of Sant Cristòfol.
A trip to Benassal has to include a visit to the Castillo de la Mola, which currently houses the Archaeological Museum of the region of Alt Maestrat. In Ares you have to go into La Mola, a cave that crosses, from part to part, the mountain of the same name, nowadays houses a museum in which pieces and moments of the history of the municipality are collected from prehistory to the Carlist Wars. And then, in Catí, the houses and streets keep intact the medieval layout of the village making every moment a unique experience. Also, the surrounding lands with forests contain some of the most beautiful and best preserved Mediterranean flora in the Region of Valencia, including Bosque del Rivet, 16 hectares of Mediterranean oak.
The rich gastronomy of Alt Maestrat is based on products obtained from the countryside, livestock and hunting. Its cuisine is rural, with such representative dishes as lamb, rabbit with snails, ternasco or Olla del Maestrat. Also noteworthy are the sausages and, above all, the cheeses of excellent quality and variety. From the hazelnuts and almonds you get the best raw material with which to make handmade nougat and sweet pastry. Olive oil, curd, cottage cheese, honey, mushrooms … are just some of the gastronomic treasures that this land hides.
From its numerous springs sprout waters that have recognized mineral-medicinal properties that are bottled for consumption and used in spas. In addition, the territory is especially privileged for the proliferation of truffles, both winter and summer. The altitude, the climate and the composition of the land make the area one of the largest and best producers of the black diamond world of Castellón cuisine.
This natural territory, of high ecological value, also maintains the tradition in the artisan cheese culture. Vall de Catí makes artisan cheese with milk from its own farms and the maturation takes place naturally, without forcing or shortening the time in the cellar. The cheese factory of Catí offers visits in which to know the whole process of making its artisan cheese. A tour of its facilities, in which to enjoy and learn new things about this exciting world. The visit constitutes a visual and gastronomic experience.