The Espadán-Mijares Mancomunidad is located in the southwest of the province of Castellón, between the regions of Alto Mijares and Plana Baja de Castellón. It includes part of the Natural Park of the Sierra de Espadán and the Mijares River and owes its name to these two geographic elements of its environment.
It is composed of fifteen municipalities: Ain, Alcudia de Veo, Argelita, Ayodar, Espadilla, Fanzara, Fuentes de Ayodar, Ribesalbes, Sueras, Thales, Toga, Torralba del Pinar, Torrechiva, Vallat and Villamalur, ten of them are from the region of Alto Mijares and five of the Lower Plain. It covers an area of 257.1 km2 and serves a population of about 4,000 inhabitants.
Part of the surface the Community is within the limits of the Natural Park of the Sierra de Espadán and has a great historical and cultural wealth. This mountainous massif, with numerous fountains, leafy ravines and wooded masses, is part of the Iberian System and separates the basins of the Palancia rivers to the south and Mijares to the north.
The Sierra de Espadán is one of the few reliefs of the Valencian Community in which there are outcrops of sandstones, called rodenos, that originate an abrupt and broken relief, with mountains of up to 1,000 meters of altitude. Very interesting are the "fridges", stone buildings built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to store snow throughout the year.
The climatic, geological and edaphic conditions, as well as the floristic richness and the human action on the environment have given rise to different plant formations: pine forests, riverbank forests, holm oaks and cork oaks.
The fauna that inhabits the park is the result of the diversity of landscapes and environments that it offers. We can find several species of amphibians such as the common toad, the corridor toad or the gallipato. The reptiles are represented by different species such as the ocellated lizard, the long-tailed lizard, the ladder snake and the bastard snake.
As for the birds, undoubtedly, raptors, such as the scarce and threatened Bonelli's eagle, the short-toed eagle, the booted eagle and the goshawk. Among the nocturnal raptors we find the tawny owl, the small owl and the eagle owl. Other common birds of this zone are the jay, the blue climber, the robin, the wryneck and the finch. Among the mammals coexist the boar, the fox, the marten, the genet and the badger. There are also sixteen bat species, seven of which are listed as threatened species.
The municipalities of the Mancomunidad de Espadán-Mijares have a spectacular heritage as well as a great beauty and antiquity. Most have a sparse population and its streets and houses maintain a very traditional architecture, which gives them a unique charm. Its vast heritage, much linked to the Moorish era, is made up of castles and fortresses, churches and hermitages and trenches and refuges of the civil war. These municipalities are surrounded by beautiful landscapes of great ecological value in the easternmost part of the Iberian System. Agriculture, both rainfed and irrigated and the exploitation of natural resources, such as cork or beekeeping, stand out as the main economic activities. Although there are also activities such as industry and ceramic crafts.
The GR-333 is a unique route that unites the 15 municipalities of the Espadán-Mijares Mancomunidad, with a total distance of 104 km of trail and is composed of 15 different stages. Similarly, you can also travel through all the municipalities of the town through a BTT route, duly signposted and approved, more than 100 km long.
Throughout the area we can practice a wide variety of outdoor sports: hiking, climbing, mountain biking, canyoning, kayaking, etc. with different degrees of difficulty and physical exigency. Also, the most daring can recreate underground practicing speleology in the caves and chasms of the area.
For hiking enthusiasts there are several circular and linear routes that allow you to enjoy nature without large slopes and with an average difficulty. Among the most important circular routes we find the GR-333 through which we will visit the 15 towns of the Community, the SL-CV103 "Sendero Pinar", the PR-CV 398 "Ayódar - Modroñal - Morrones - Ayódar" with stunning panoramic views from Sierra de Espadán, PR-CV 276 "Sendero de Ayodar", PR-CV 386 "Camino a la Cueva Negra", PR-CV 314 "Saganta" that runs through the most emblematic summit of a large Jurassic massif that extends from Torrechiva to Onda. And among the linear routes stand out the SL-CV 91 "Senda de la Muela", the SL-CV 70 "Barranco de Vasall", the PR-CV 140 "Ain - Sueras, by Benitandus", the PR-CV 139 "Tales - Peñas Aragonesas, Artana "and the PR-CV 136" Villamalur - Sueras ".
For the most daring there is also a wide variety of climbing routes. Among the best areas for practicing this activity are the Climbing in Vallat whose profile makes it one of the most striking, the Torrechiva Climbing, located in an incomparable environment surrounded by a lush pine forest, the Escalada Tales, the Fanzara Climbing or Climbing Ayódar, located in an area with a high landscape, sports and environmental value.
When you go sightseeing, you not only enjoy the beauty of the landscapes and the villages, you also have to discover the gastronomy of the area and taste the most traditional dishes that make the difference with other places. Of this Mediterranean mountain cuisine rice dishes stand out, one of the most cooked hot dishes in these populations, but you can not leave out hunting meat, mainly wild boar and thrushes, present in many of the typical dishes of its cuisine . Other main dishes are the village pot, the cabbage steak, the rabbit with garlic or the cod stew.
And to sweeten the palates, the most typical sweets of the Community are the rolls, the orelletes, the fig fritters, the bun of chicarrones, the "torrada" pumpkin, the borrainas or borrajas, the higas albardás or the pellets of hair of angel and sweet potato.
And among many dishes, the star ingredient is olive oil from the Sierra de Espadán, which is of great quality and highly appreciated in the culinary world.
When talking about the holidays, each municipality traditionally retains its own customs and festivities, but the most deeply rooted and with a common denominator, not only in this area but in several communities of the Spanish territory, is Easter and its traditional Mona. Its name comes from munna or mouna, an Arabic term meaning "provision of the mouth". According to some texts they explain that it was a gift offered by the Muslims to their masters, for the Christians it symbolizes the end of the abstinence from Lent. But what really matters is the tradition of enjoying the days of Holy Week, Easter Sunday in the open air, in each of the corners or places that host the municipalities of the Espadán-Mijares Mancomunidad.
The 15 towns of the Espadán Mijares Community celebrate the festivity of San Antonio, whose celebration is on January 17. In addition, all of them, match the same logo, light a bonfire with the consequent distribution of the famous rolls and blessing of the animals.
In the QR codes contained in this guide, you can download videoguies to go through and learn more about the main attractions of the municipalities of Espadán-Mijares. Also, you can expand all this information, know the news of Espadán-Mijares and tourism offers offered by companies in the area in www.visitespadanmijares.com.