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Farmhouses and fortified towers

The farmhouses are the most representative rural constructions of Maestrazgo, symbol of traditional ways of life, of a peculiar way of agricultural exploitation of the territory and of adaptation to the harsh living conditions imposed by the environment. Although they are mostly uninhabited, they constitute a valuable cultural heritage of our towns. They also contribute to the configuration of a rural landscape where the close interrelationships established between man and the territory he inhabits are evident.

The concept of mas goes beyond the concept of building. It extends to the territory humanized or built around it. Each farmhouse is part of a rustic territory of variable extension, centered on the main house and with a series of differentiated spaces depending on the productive suitability and the distance from the house: dry farming, orchard, pasture area, forest, etc. The farmhouse usually has barns, corrals, stables, yards, etc. as outbuildings. All these buildings or constructions have the function of favoring the activities of the agricultural and livestock exploitation inside the farmhouse.

The oldest of these constructions date back to the Middle Ages, since the Order of the Temple already gave permission to live in “nearby mansos”. In this way they ensured a certain control of the territory. Curious are the so-called fortified towers“. Very numerous in this frontier zone, they are located in strategic places to dominate an extensive territory and communicate with each other. The oldest are massive and slender defensive towers, later, as they lose their function, they lose height and become a symbol of prestige, sometimes with the addition of noble coats of arms and other decorative elements.

But the vast majority of the farmhouses date from the 19th and early 20th centuries. At this time there was a strong demographic pressure and a great deal of land was ploughed. For this reason, many large farmhouses are divided into “masicos“, smaller houses. These will house smaller families, but they will have everything they need to live: corrals, haystacks, pastures, forest and arable land.