LOOKING for a weekend escape? This hidden gem of ‘abandoned Spain’ is a must visit. 

The north of Spain is growing in popularity with visitors due to its cheap prices, beautiful landscapes and charming towns. 

The area is known for its rich history, gastronomy and charming towns. Photo: Somosmatarranya Comarca de Matarranya/Facebook

However, this area of Teruel, Aragon is still little known to most tourists. 

Matarraña, also known as the Tuscany of Spain, is full of history and great gastronomy. 

It is often compared with the Italian region thanks to its rolling olive groves, medieval architecture and miles of vineyards. 

With some 18 municipalities, there is so much to explore in Matarraña. 

Each town has its unique charm, and for Calaciete, its food scene draws visitors from all over Aragon. 

It is said Picasso ‘licked his lips’ when trying the local delicacy of pigeon stew. 

He tried the dish in Calaciete, one of Spain’s ‘most beautiful towns’ found in the Matarraña area. 

Visiting Calaciete is like stepping back in time. Photo: Tursimo Aragon

Since then, the town has become a foodie hotspot, with famous faces from all over the Spanish speaking world coming to try their dishes. 

Among them are Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez and filmmaker Luis Buñuel. 

It is even home to Fonda Alcalá, a restaurant led by Michelin star trained chefs. 

Generations of Alcala’s have driven the venue to success, even winning the title of Aragon’s best family restaurant. 

They serve up ‘slow food’, with fresh, locally sourced ingredients including truffles, jamon, wine and olive oil. 

Calaciete is also known for its olive mill, Mans dels Castellans. 

Visitors can hop on a segway around the groves before a premium olive tasting in a 17th century building nestled in the heart of the old town. 

The capital of Matarraña, Valderrobres, also has the title of one of ‘Spain’s most beautiful towns’ thanks to its gothic church, castle and medieval houses strewn throughout the town. 

The famous Valderrobres bridge overlooks the town. Photo: Turismo Aragon

The Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor is a great example of Levantine-Gothic architecture typical of Aragon. 

But if you really want a taste of the Medieval, head to 16th century facades of Casa Pereret, Pallares or La Fonda. 

The areas around Matarraña’s towns are perfect to immerse yourself in nature. 

For stunning views, check out the huge stone walls of the Rocas de Masmut, standing some 100 metres tall. 

The views of the imposing Rocas de Masmut are worth a walk. Photo: Turismo Matarranya

If you prefer a little more adventure, check out the Parrizal hiking route, traversing canons, wells and the Fenellosa cave paintings. 

Cyclists will enjoy the Puertos de Beceite or the Valle de Zafan, which links Teruel with Tarragona.

Adventure lovers can also try canyoning, zip lining or caving as well as routes on horseback or 4×4. 

For accommodation, the Fabrica de Solfa is found in an old paper factory on the banks of the River Matarraña. 

The River Matarraña Photo by Manuel Torres Garcia on Unsplash

The historic factory once produced the backdrops for Spanish artist Goya’s prints and has beautiful views over the Beceite bridge. 

The Hospederia Virgen de la Fuente is another great option.

The quiet hotel has just five rooms but is complete with its own spa. 

If you want a unique stay, why not check out Solo Houses, an experimental architecture project in the middle of the forest. 

A visit to Matarraña is not complete without a tour of one of the many wineries. 

Lagar de Amprius is one of the best in the area, thanks to its multi award winning wines. 

There is a vineyard for every type of person in Matarraña, whether you prefer family joints like Mas de Torubio, micro wineries like Mussols, organic wines like Tel-luric’s offering or sparkling wines like those from Bayod Borras.  

Just one-and-a-half hours away from Zaragoza by car, discover Matarraña before it’s too late.

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