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Stone Horizons, the treasure of Els Ports region
Publishing date 22/12/2014
Walls, terraces, wells, troughs and roads that gets lost in the horizon, as well as isolated huts, make the most humanized landscape of Els Ports region, in the northwestern province of Castellón. Dry stone is an ancient building technique that has transformed the local land in a captivating environment. The ground is leveled with stones taken from the fields to get advantage of the land. The constructions in dry stone also provide shelter during chilly nights or storms and serves to contain stream waters. In this sort of technique, stones of a weight and size that can be handled by a single man are used. Although the buildings can be done by a man alone, they usually work in couples. The dry stone constructions in the Valencia region are relics of the past turned into gems of folk architecture. They remain today; stone on stone, watching impassively as times goes by.
The traveler who goes through the region of Els Ports reaches the village of Vilafranca and goes back several centuries in time almost without realizing, among the ancient dry stone landscapes around the Forcall Caves, la Parreta, les Virtuts, Pla de Mosorro and Pobla de Bellestar.
The journey begins at the landscape of la Parreta, a Mediterranean forest of holm oaks and pines, around Vilafranca. La Parreta is a place where the stone walls serve to separate properties and reveal the timber past of the area. Fences and walls appear one after the other turning the landscape into a beautiful dry stone mosaic.
The spot of les Virtuts, northwest of Vilafranca, is one of the areas where dry stone constructions are better preserved. The huts, walls, fences, roads and even the stairs mix without stridency with the amazing nature of Els Ports. At a single glance you can see dozens of parallel walls lined with huts and shelters. Not a single picture does justice to the beauty and quantity of the stone buildings. The buildings are perfectly integrated into the environment, becoming an agricultural landscape of great beauty. Until a few years ago, there were cereals and potatoes farmlands, a fact that allowed for more solid constructions.
El Pla de Mosorro is a landscape transformed by the hand of man, because of the large number of dry stone constructions on the site. In little space you can see the stone walls dividing properties, shepherd shelters, animal pens, wells to collect water and tracks used by the flocks.
La Pobla de Bellestar, next to riu de les Truites and in the border of Aragón, has a gothic bridge made of dry stone. Sober and stylish, it serves as the culmination of a brief foray into the deepest and unknown regions of Castellón. It shows us a land full of magic and charm that has maintained its beautiful heritage of dry stone until today.