Alforja

Alforja

The village is situated in the valley of the same name, which cuts through the Roig bridge and the Mirador mountain, placed on the border with El Priorat, close to the hill of Alforja. It was the centre of a barony and it retains vestiges of the ramparts and the castle.

 

History

In Alforja, several flint tools have been found, as well as a copper arrow, a Neolithic burial pit in the way to Hortes, and the remains of a Roman villa between the Mas del Metge and La Venta. The name of the town was first reported in 1152, although the town charter dates from six years later.

It is assumed that the village must have been exploiting the silver mines at the time. Later, urban development might have been driven purely by the Franks with the subsequent construction of fortifications and castle.

The barony of Alforja was formed in the thirteenth century, consisting of Les Borges del Camp, Riudecols, Les Irles, Els Banys, Els diumenge or Els Domenys, Cortiella, Els Arcs, Les Benes, Les Voltes and Tascals and the same village of Alforja. The Jewish community - documented between 1283 and 1393 - was very active and maintained contact with the Jewish communities of L'Aleixar and Valls. The jugglers and musicians in the village during the fourteenth century indicated a level of prosperity. The castle was set up as a prison through a 1314 act of law – this implies the existence of a fortress. This castle must have been of a good size as it was the residence of the Archbishops in medieval times. In 1319 King James II called the Great Men of Tortosa to solve the problem caused by his first son's refusal to marry. Of the walls remaining in 1931, there is now just a gate-way and a slight trace of the castle.

In 1645, Alforja complained of ill-treatment by the French cavalry and infantry, for destroying their crops and humiliating their people. In the eighteenth century there was a great increase in the cultivation of hazel. The Iberian Peninsular War created a serious economic crisis for the town. In the first civil war of the nineteenth century, Alforja supported the absolutists, resulting in a heavy defeat in 1822. The town had an army and control site of the surroundings of the Camp.

Within the current area of Alforja, there are deserted and ancient sites such as Domenys and Cortiella. At Mas d'en Mestre, house of the Carlist chief manor of the same name, there is the chapel of Santa Maria de Cortiella, qualified, yet in 1952, as a parish church.

 

Places to visit

The church

The parish church of Sant Miquel is dated 1637. It is slender and it has a slender bell tower visible from several kilometers away. The museum of Reus preserves the sixteenth century table of St. Michael, who was titled Master of Alforja.

Covered arches

Covered arches give the village, along with the gate in the wall, a medieval air.

Hermitages

The hermitage of Sant Antoni de Padua, located at the beginning of the path to Puigcerver, was built in the eighteenth century, amid a landscape of charm with a good spring and site for frequent trips.

The sanctuary of the Mare de Deu de Puigcerver

What catches the attention about the sanctuary is its location. The building is at the north west end of Alforja, and it borders on Porrera (in El Priorat) and Riudecols, known as the Valls de Cortiella. The hermitage is 790 metres above sea level, a unique place that clearly throws into relief the mountains such as La Mussara, and Pàndols into the Tarragona coast. 500m to the west of the monument at 840m, there is the Miranda, the highest point of the mountain.

The first references to the hermitage are found in 1227 in various bequests. It is located at the point where, according to legend, the inhabitants of Alforja saw some flashes coming down from heaven, like tongues of fire, and stayed in the forest Puigdarenes. In going there, they discovered the image of the Virgin, who tried three times to go down to the village. Thus the hermitage was built in its current location. The building was expanded in the early seventeenth century (with work completed in 1620), but suffered the ravages of several wars; it was rebuilt in the nineteenth century. 

This hermitage, beloved in nearby towns such as Riudecols, Les Borges or Porrera, is presented as a single compact building. The entrance to the place consists of a semicircular arch that turns into a porch where there are two benches. The ground floor was where the corrals and stables were, now a dining room and bar. Once at the entrance, on the right, there was the hermit home and cells; to the left, there was a half-covered patio with a cistern in the middle, which is the area where you enter the inner sanctum. The chapel has a nave, choir and a niche in the sanctuary with corresponding access stairs. He also had an altar built in 1774 by sculptor Joseph Tomàs from Mora d'Ebre which was destroyed in 1936. When the chapel was rebuilt between 1939-1940, the current icon was blessed. The altar piece was made by Venanci Bonet from Reus. Joan Amades thinks that it is Christianization, with the apparition of the Virgin, of an ancient site of pagan worship, a hypothesis that would confirm the impressive tradition of lighting bonfires on the night of San Juan in front of the chapel, until the late nineteenth century.

Routes

The most popular route to go to Puigcerver, it is the Cornudella road or the also called path of Sant Antoni, which has several routes that point the way, like that of Formatge and Pedra

WHAT MORE TO VISIT

We suggest other interesting places to discover in this area

Historial complex of Alforja

Alforja

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