Why do some places get all the attention while others that are equally spectacular remain almost nameless? Why doesn’t tourism distribute their fame evenly, giving a chance to those areas that are not under the spotlight yet? These thoughts could easily drive us to visit the natural landscape of Pitarque, a wonderful municipality which deserves a lot more appreciation than it gets.
Pitarque belongs to the province of Teruel, more specifically to the region of Maestrazgo. This area stands out for its stunning natural monuments, such as the source of the river of Pitarque, the Crystal Caves, or the canyon of Guadalope. We also have the villages of Pitarque, some of which still keep their medieval architecture, their walls and the ruins of their old castles.
The region of Maestrazgo is per se quite unknown. Cantavieja, its capital, is the most frequented place in Maestrazgo. Pitarque is only 58 kilometres away from there, a route that might take us a bit longer than an hour to finish. The main highlight in this municipality is perhaps the source of the river with the same name.
Sadly, the medieval old town of Pitarque has not survived time. It is not one of those places that usually get mentioned on the lists of the most beautiful villages either. There is no need for that, though. The landscape around it, at the feet of the mountains of Peñarrubia and Peña de la Virgen, speaks for itself. These aspects turn the hidden village of Pitarque into the perfect spot for finding peace, quiet, and beauty.
The main attraction in this area is, without a doubt, the natural monument of the source of the Pitarque river, a place the inhabitants of Pitarque call “the eye of the source”. In order to get there from the village, one must walk five kilometres along the river. The path is a treasure on its own, surrounded by wild nature, and it goes along this stream of crystal waters, full of waterfalls and natural ponds. This picture is watched over by griffon vultures and mountain goats.
Nonetheless, the river is not the only place of interest in the area. The route of the lookouts also makes up a good way of enjoying the landscape. In this respect, the path departs from the lookout point of El Salto Quemado, which is located between the municipalities of Pitarque and Villarluengo. The second step is the lookout point of Pitarquejo, where we will find some inviting climbing routes. Later on, the route passes by the “broken factory”, the remains of an old textile factory, and by four lookouts in the village, apart from those between Pitarque and the eye of the source.
When it comes to the village, we must mention the communal structures, like the oven or the wash house, as well as the neoclassical church of Santa María la Mayor. On our way to the source, we will also find the shrine of La Virgen de la Peña, one of the monuments that the inhabitants of Pitarque visit the most.
The Iberians were the first to settle in Pitarquejo before the village moved to its current location. After that, the Arabs settled there. We believe that explains the origin of the village’s name: Pitarque might be a derivation of the words abu-tariq or tareq, which could be translated as “father of the channel”.
Long after that, a couple of hydroelectric power stations opened up in Pitarque, as well as some textile factories. It was a time of economic prosperity for the village. However, when those factories closed, Pitarque suffered strong waves of emigration, which ended up depopulating it. This is probably one of the main reasons behind its current anonymity. But it’s not the only one: the roads departing from the village are narrow and sinuous, although they do offer unparalleled views.
Finally, we cannot forget mentioning the region Pitarque belongs to, Maestrazgo; nor its province, Teruel. Both of them are mostly ignored by tourists, but that doesn’t mean they are not worth a visit. Pitarque might not have a beach or prestige among influencers, but that’s only part of the charm of this unique place.