Welcome to Ares del Maestrat (also known as Ares del Maestre), a small picturesque village in the province of Castellón, Spain. It’s situated near the top of the Mola d’Ares mountain (1318 m.a.s.l.). Its elevation of 1195 m.a.s.l. gives Ares the title of the second highest town in the Valencian Community. Due to its strategic location different cultures (like Iberians, Romans or Muslims) populated this area. The city was built and fortified by the Romans, later was destroyed, fortified again and expanded by the Muslims. It was finally reconquered by James I in 1232.
Currently, as a result of migration to the cities, Ares del Maestrat isn’t well populated, no more than 230 people live there. It’s also interesting that the winters there can be very harsh and cold. It’s frequent that during the winter snowfalls it’s isolated and the inhabitants are obliged to a certain self-subsistence.
The village remains a popular tourist destination – see why.
WHAT TO SEE IN ARES DEL MAESTRAT?
Viewpoint: Mirador Ares del Maestrat
Mirador offers spectacular views of Ares del Maestrat, winding roads, and valleys.
On the highest point of the city we can see a small rock – the last remains of the old Templar castle, which was originally built during Islamic period. From there you can see a beautiful panorama of Ares del Maestrat and the surrounding areas. In 1997 the castle was declared a Building of Cultural Interest.
At the foothill of the castle the small urban centre stretches. There we can find:
Asunción de Nuestra Señora Church
It’s a 18th-century church, built on the remains of a Romanesque-Gothic church. An interesting feature of this building is that the church is higher than the belltower (which dates back to the 13th century).
Just wander around village streets. There you can find places like Plaza Mayor (the main square, centre of the village), City Hall, Los Porches, a 13th-century prison, and many beautiful houses.
Other places in Ares del Maestrat (which I haven’t seen)
In the village you can also find Cova del Castell Museum, where “you will be able to travel through time, from Prehistory to the present, visiting this impressive site dug out of the rock”.
Close to the village there is also Cova Remigia, a place where you can see prehistoric paintings which were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Cova Remigia and other shelters of the Gasulla ravine that preserve cave paintings on their walls can be visited accompanied by a guide.
HOW TO GET TO ARES DEL MAESTRAT?
The best and easiest way to get to Ares del Maestre is by car. This will take about an hour from Castellón de la Plana, or 2 hours from Valencia. We left the car in a parking lot near Restaurante Coll d’Ares and then walked about 1km to the Ares del Maestrat. You can go up the main street or choose a small path, walking next to the fields.
WHERE TO SLEEP & EAT IN ARES DEL MAESTRAT?
As you can expect not many choices, but here is what you can choose from: