The village of Tronchón is located 1009 meters above sea level, at the foot of the Muela Monchén. The orography of its territory has given it a situation of certain isolation with respect to the main communication routes, which has marked its historical development.
Tronchón was reconquered by Alfonso II and later donated to Gastón, Master of the Order of Sant Redentor. In 1212 it passed to the Order of the Temple with the remaining villages that formed the Baylía de Cantavieja. Master Arnaldo de Castronovo granted Tronchón the Town Charter in 1272. The town later passed into the hands of the Order of St. John until the confiscations of the 19th century. During this century it suffered various vicissitudes, playing a fundamental role in the development of the wars of Independence and the Carlist Wars.
Its current economy is based mainly on primary sector activities, both agriculture and livestock. However, this locality has been recognized for years for its peculiar handicraft industry. In the last third of the eighteenth century, the flourishing development in Tronchón of three craft industries derived from products of the land can be seen, and constituted the basis of the livelihood of a large part of the inhabitants of the town: Tronchón cheese, felt hats and ceramics. In Tronchón, the curious rabbit fur hats were manufactured, which required abundant labor due to their complex manufacture.
The cheese that Cervantes must have fallen in love with
In addition, the main gastronomic attraction of the Maestrazgo region is produced in this town: Tronchón cheese. This product has been produced since ancient times and, although it is not possible to establish the date when it was first produced, we know that in the 17th century it already enjoyed a certain fame, since in 1615, when the 2nd part of “El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha” was published, it was mentioned in a couple of chapters. This indicates that Cervantes was familiar with Tronchón cheese and, given how slowly news traveled at that time, we must assume that he was already a celebrity at least one hundred years earlier.
It is always handmade, mainly from sheep’s milk. It has a circular, doughnut shape, its rind is smooth, waxy, without mold and ivory to pale yellow in color. The interior is closed, without eyes or with small holes the size of the head of a pin. At present, this product is produced and marketed by the artisan cheesemakers Tronchón S.L.
But cheese is not everything
Tronchón also has a significant architectural heritage. This materialized in 1983, when it was declared a Historic-Artistic Site. The most outstanding feature is the Santa María Magdalena church, built between 1612 and 1625, and which has a monumental ashlar tower dated 1797. Opposite is the town hall, dating from 1556, with its four-arched commodities exchange, and the old butcher’s shops attached to it. Near these is the old oven and the so-called Old Prison, a Gothic ashlar building partially excavated in the quarry.
The monumental complex around the church is completed with the Portal del Val, an old eighteenth-century exit from the town, along with the houses of the Saint and the Castle, which according to tradition are located on a convent and the castle, respectively. Scattered throughout the rest of the village there are also many other buildings of interest. We highlight the remains of a possible Romanesque doorway hypothetically linked to the old church (Old Cemetery), several mansions, such as those of the Marquises of Valdeolivo, Rectoral and Monforte, the Cárcel Nueva and the portals of San Miguel and Santa Bárbara, the latter with a baroque chapel.
Other buildings of interest can also be found scattered throughout the municipality: the ashlar fountain and the washing place; the hermitage of Santa Ana, at the foot of which the town sits; the peculiar hermitage of Tremedal, with a circular floor plan, and other washing places. In addition, we can find a multitude of farmhouses among which stands out Mas de Torre Piquer, included in the Inventory of Castles considered of Cultural Interest.