Festive cycle in Morella


Medieval festival of fire, demons and saints, music and life in the country

The festive year of Morella opens in January with Sant Antoni, a festival integrated into the cycle of Les Santantonades de Els Ports, one of the oldest, most attractive and beautiful events in the Valencian Community. It is possible to follow from Morella a route from Santantonades between the nearby towns, Forcall, Villores, Herbers, Ortells, Castellfort. Olocau, Vilafranca, Cinctorres, La Mata, Sorita, Portell, La Todolella … since its celebration lasts during January and February and the days of the festival cover an entire weekend.

The party in Morella is celebrated the weekend after Saint Anthony’s Day (January 17). It is the quintessential festive event for rural people, a medieval festival that unites religious and pagan traditions. On Friday a monumental “barraca” rises, next to the Arciprestal Church, created with dry branches of pine and holm oak, supported by a central axis that is a giant wooden trunk. At night La Vida del Santo is staged at the Puerta de los Apóstoles de la Iglesia Arciprestal. This Auto Sacramental tells gracefully the temptations that Saint Anthony suffered. Then the huge bonfire that offers light and warmth is lit on a cold night, while the demons scamper in hubbub. Afterwards, they walk through the streets of Morellanas, accompanying the music and lyrics of the traditional Albades from Morellanas, stopping the procession at the Casa Cofradía de Labradores to taste the typical pastas from Sant Antoni, panoli accompanied by local brandy and muscat.

The next day, Saturday, various activities related to life in the countryside, tillage, harvesting, slaughtering pigs, making sausages, are performed on the streets of Morellan, in La Llaurà, El Mondongo. The Contraband is also staged, a parody of those encounters between police and smugglers.

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Morella is full of imagination, colour and joy

It is one of the funniest and busiest parties of the year. The Morella Carnival is a tradition rooted in the life of the walled city. Morellanos and morellanas disguised themselves criticising the news and the authorities and it was held from Sunday to Tuesday before the beginning of the Lenten period, the party being suspended after the Civil War. It is now celebrated on the first Saturday of Lent, the following weekend of the usual celebration of this feast that marks the Catholic calendar. The party begins on Friday in the entertainment venues, pubs and clubs and the great parade takes place on Saturday afternoon, touring the main streets. The Morella Carnival is unique, for celebrating a different weekend, for having regained its critical, sarcastic and very funny side, for the number of people who make costumes of a great imagination and because they have total organisational freedom as their hallmark. . The parade is open and everyone can join. At night, street music prolongs hours of fun and colour. The Children’s Carnival is also celebrated on the same Saturday, but in the afternoon.


The solemnity and silence of the processions

In keeping with the tradition of the religious calendar, the celebration begins on Palm Sunday with the blessing of these symbols, which in Morella are branches of rosemary, in the convent of Sant Francesc. In addition, for several years a group of young people from Morellanos have promoted the Rompida de la Hora, following the traditions of the neighboring towns of Teruel. On Friday, Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross, known as Les Creus, are carried out, a route that runs through the castle. The Morella processions are characterised by their solemnity, austerity, and the rigor of the black colour of the clothing of the Brotherhood of Sorrows. In the procession of Holy Thursday, the Nazarenes, curolles, carry in their hands a Mystery, a symbol that represents the passages of the Passion of Jesus. It should be noted that this procession is one of the few in the Valencian Community that preserves the passage of all the Mysteries of the Passion. Good Friday is celebrated, also at night, the procession of the Holy Burial.


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Spring celebration, blessing of heaven, earth and life

With the arrival of spring Morella looks at the sky and the earth. It is time to celebrate a wide calendar of rotllos and prima pilgrimages. On the first Saturday of the month of May, the most massive is held, the rogation day to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Vallivana, to honor the patron saint of Morella. Hundreds of people walk the 25 kilometres that separate the city from the sanctuary, located next to the N-232 road. The return, also on foot, takes place on Sunday. La Rogativa is a deeply rooted tradition that is celebrated every year in May, except when Morella celebrates the Sexennium. In the six-year year this pilgrimage takes on an impressive solemnity and is celebrated in August. The people of Morella descend to the Sanctuary to transfer the image of the Virgin of Vallivana to Morella and celebrate the Sexennium Festival. The image remains in the city until October, when it is transferred to the Sanctuary again.

In addition to La Rogativa, from April 25, (San Marcos), and until July 10 (San Cristóbal) Morella opens its Rotllos i Primes calendar. It consists in that some people, either by rotating shift among the inhabitants of the farmhouses near the hermitages or term crossings, or by “promises” made by the Morellanos, distribute rolls to the assistants, made by hand using flour paste , brandy and spices. It is worth noting the peculiar ornaments of these scrolls, faithfully complying with traditions. The territory of Morella is dotted with hermitages and Term Crosses, which is why these celebrations are held practically every spring weekend. This cycle begins in the hermitage of Sant Marc and it is worth highlighting, among other celebrations, Els Apostols de la Llàcua, on May 1. It is a small medieval town, made up of a group of farmhouses, where there was a school and a church. This party brings together many people. The common point of these traditions is the blessing of the four cardinal points of the term, a ritual that blesses heaven, earth and life.


Tradition, beauty and solemnity since the 14th century

The Corpus Christi celebration in Morella is, together with that of Valencia, the oldest in the Mediterranean. Its origin dates back to 1358 and still retains its extensive content of biblical pictures. It is celebrated on the Sunday following Corpus Thursday, which marks the Catholic calendar. The day before, on Saturday, La Degolla is celebrated, where the slaughter of the Holy Innocents is staged. The children’s participation is massive, wearing a peculiar outfit in white and red, and carrying a wooden sword that “stains” with saffron and water. The children’s hubbub runs through the streets of Morellanas accompanied by a series of biblical characters. Corpus Sunday takes on a colourful special. In the afternoon the General Procession is celebrated, in which hundreds of neighbours participate. This entourage represents scenes and multiple characters from the New and Old Testaments, the Prophets. the Evangelists, the Ark of the Covenant, the Apostles, dozens of images of saints, union patrons, Els Cirialots, Angelets, boys and girls dressed as angels who fill the streets with rose petals, and all concluding with the passage of the Custody under canopy. It is also worth noting the passage of l’Aliga, one of the most emblematic and ancestral symbols of the city, as well as the parade of the four giants of Morella, one of the oldest in the Valencian Community.


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Academy and international festival of medieval and renaissance music.

At the end of July a musical meeting takes place in Morella between the artistic past of the Crown of Aragon and the present of the city, which preserves one of the most peculiar representations of musical heritage: the paintings of the Dance of Death. Reason and excuse to locate the Early Music in Morella, this musical adventure is formed by the theory and composition of the 15th century, the beginnings of the white notation, the Montecassino codex, instrumental or religious music next to the villanellas, frottolas, madrigales and Christmas carols, without forgetting the traditional music of the entire Mediterranean, so necessary to understand the cultural complexity that characterizes the people of this Mare Nostrum.

The combination of the elements of historical music together with the oral tradition, constitute the essence of Early Music Morella. In each edition, in addition to the Early Music Festival and the Academy, the audience can enjoy a multitude of parallel activities (guided tours, exhibitions, conferences, jam sessions, workshops…).


The heavenly sounds of the Archpriest Church

Between the first and second week of August, Morella has celebrated, for more than 25 years, an International Organ Music Festival, which has as its starting point and axis of the concerts the monumental organ of the Santa Maria Archdiocese Church. Higher. Built by the organist from Cretas (Teruel) Francisco Turull, it is one of the most important and impressive instruments of the Valencian School. Turull began to build the Morella organ in 1717, concluding his work in 1720. This baroque piece consists of four thousand voices or tubes, and is made up of the great organ and the cadereta. In addition to enjoying its sound within the framework of the Festival, the organ plays on the Morella festivities and on most Sunday liturgical celebrations. The Music Festival was born from the hand of the Argentine organist Ricardo Miravet (Córdoba, 1930), who for years directed the restoration of the Turull organ. Miravet has been a principal organist at Sant Germain de Paris and each year brings prestigious organists and chamber musicians to Morella.

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The summer parties, bullfights and music

During the middle of the month of August the festivities of Sant Roc are celebrated every year in Morella. They are the summer parties, street parties, “bous per la vila”, running of the bulls, brass bands, orchestras and numerous activities that bring together locals and visitors. In addition, the month of August offers various leisure possibilities every week. The cultural August, the Youth Week, the Sant Roc festivities and the Sports and Health week, which is usually held on the last days of the month.


Privilege of King Jaime I that today is a commercial livestock, agri-food space and a tourist attraction

When occupying these lands in the 13th century, King Jaume I of Aragon firmly supported commerce and livestock, and made a decision that forever marked the importance of Morella. The city has the privilege granted by the monarch on March 6, 1256 and that authorized the Morellano people to hold a weekly market and an annual livestock fair. The Morella Fair is held on the second weekend of September. Livestock farming has always had great importance in the lives of people from Morelos. The fruits of the land have always been transformed for the industry by rural men and women from family farms. For centuries, in the almost four hundred farmhouses in the municipality of Morella, the annual agricultural cycle has depended: sowing, harvesting, fruit, flour production, bread, wine … And also the life cycle of animals, grazing, slaughter, cheese and canning, and wool, an element that has enriched Morella, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries with an important textile industry.

The Morella Fair continues to be a great commercial center and one of the most important meeting places for Castellón and the neighbouring lands of Aragon and Catalonia, also becoming a point of tourist interest. The Fair extends along the Paseo de La Alameda with hundreds of commercial spaces in the agricultural and livestock, agri-food and artisan sectors.

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New Year’s in Morella

Morella’s Christmas calendar offers multiple possibilities, from Christmas traditions, rooted in families, to the singing of Christmas Carols through the streets. But what marks these dates is the celebration every day, of some activity aimed at all audiences. Parties and appointments such as Jocambient, which takes place the first week of January and which consists of a macro space for children’s games. In addition, the Reyes de Morella cavalcade is one of the most colourful and curious in the Valencian Community. And, the best thing, spending New Year’s Eve in Morella is an unforgettable experience, receiving the new year from a rural tourism house, or from any of the hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, turns this date into an instant of fun and much magic.

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