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Templars and Sanjuanistas in the Maestrazgo region

It is the Middle Ages that forged the historical personality of Maestrazgo. In the late 12th and early 13th centuries this territory was incorporated into the kingdom of Aragon, becoming a “frontier land” to the Moorish kingdom of Valencia.

The military orders that settled in our territory were the Order of the Temple, with the encomiendas of Cantavieja and Castellote, the Order of San Juan del Hospital, with that of Aliaga, and the Calatravos, lords of Molinos. The most famous, undoubtedly because of its current media coverage, is the Order of the Temple.

The Templars were the lords of our territory throughout the 13th century. They laid the foundations for the organization of the towns and villages by granting population charters with the aim of attracting settlers to populate this territory. These documents are a primordial element in colonization since they set the rules that were to govern the community.

We can still cite spaces that today remind us of the Templars in Maestrazgo. The most outstanding is perhaps the emblematic castle of Castellote and the tower located in the same municipality, which today is an Interpretation Center on the Templars; the church of the Virgin of the Carrasca in Bordón, the castle of Cantavieja and its urban structure, the castle of Mirambel, the Tower of the Nublos of La Iglesuela del Cid or the Murada gate in Villarluengo, among others.

Regardless of the specific modalities in which the Christian conquest of Maestrazgo was carried out, the maintenance of the territory ended up in the hands of the military orders. The Templar encomiendas of Cantavieja, Castellote and Aliaga included most of the villages in this area. They endowed them with jurisdiction and laid the foundations for the structure of the territory and its economic use.

The Order of the Temple was dissolved in 1308 and its possessions in the Maestrazgo came under the control of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem or the Hospital. This Order will maintain its jurisdiction over the area until the 19th century. However, during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, the military orders, without losing their structure and privileges, would be administered by the Crown, which exercised its right of patronage in the appointment of masters and commanders. The lukewarm conditions initially offered to attract settlers to a rough frontier, added to the distance with which the feudal administration was exercised, determined an economic pressure inferior to that of many places in Aragon.

The Middle Ages has bequeathed us interesting examples of religious Gothic architecture, among which the most outstanding are the Gothic churches of Molinos and Castellote interesting examples of the “Levantine Gothic”. Likewise, in civil architecture, the lonjas, as porches under the town halls, stand out, being the ones in Cantavieja and La Iglesuela del Cid. the most representative ones, without forgetting some bridges of medieval design and great historical significance, such as the Puebla de San Miguel Bridge or the Vallés Bridge.

More information about the Templar Tower of Castellote in the Maestrazgo Virtual Museum.

More information about the Interpretation Center of the Order of St. John of the Hospital in Maestrazgo.