The memory of Els Ports. Abandoned villages, but never lost

The passing of the centuries has brought with it the progressive development of the human race and the growth of many cities, as well as their economies and demographics. However, the inland regions of many provinces, such as Els Ports in Castelló, contain in their natural landscapes the remains of ancient villages that were centres of life, love, joy and sadness. However, these remains are part of a collective memory that keeps alive the legacy of all the generations that lived in abandoned villages, but which will never be lost, as they will never be forgotten. This is the case of old villages such as Salvassòria, a small hamlet near Morella that disintegrated at the end of the 19th century.

Salvassòria has the hermitage dedicated to Santa Llúcia still standing today, although in a ruinous state. Its construction dates back to the 13th century, and it was a parish church until 1773, when the nearby village of La Llàcua built its own church and became dependent on it, at which point the life of this village began to wither away. Of the hermitage, only the solid buttresses and the beautiful pointed arches that supported the roof remain standing, in an image that awakens the imagination of the magnitude and beauty that the construction could have had. The Romanesque doorway and the belfry, which contained the Campaneta de les Ànimes (Bell Tower) and which was exhibited, after its casting in the 15th century, at the Universal Exhibition in Seville in 1992, have also survived from the chapel. The Civil War also had serious consequences in Salvassòria, although nobody lived there any more, as some panels from 1448 that formed part of an altarpiece dedicated to Sant Jordi disappeared.

Salvassòria (

Very close to this old village, just 5 km away, is La Llàcua, a village that is not in the same ruinous state as Salvassòria, and some of the houses have even been restored by the descendants of the families. The church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception was built in 1773, on the site of an earlier hermitage, and can still be visited. The village, therefore, has become a place where one can rest temporarily rather than live, in a natural enclave near the Vallivana. The two villages mentioned above form part of the pilgrimage route of the pilgrims from Catí to Sant Pere de Castellfort, an important event in the calendar due to the high symbolic value of crossing through villages that remain in the memory.

One of these examples is also Sant Marc de les Alberedes, in the municipality of Portell de Morella. On the Saturday closest to 25th April each year, a pilgrimage is made from Portell to honour the saint, in a village that was inhabited until the end of the last century. Its hermitage dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and has beautiful Gothic arches inside. In addition, during the Civil War another altarpiece was also stolen, an artistic piece of incalculable value due to the heritage legacy it treasured. Thus, this village is made up of a multitude of constructions that form a picturesque ensemble, with a variety of states between reconstructions and some ruins, and in the middle of a natural setting very close to the river Cuba, which separates Aragon from the Valencian Community.


Another case that deserves treatment is that of the village of Saranyana, in the municipality of Todolella, a locality that absorbed the village when its economic resources dwindled. Saranyana was an important village from the 13th century, where an important church was built, which became one of the oldest in the region and represented the transition from Romanesque to Gothic style. In the 19th century it had the status of a hamlet with a certain degree of prosperity based on sheep grazing and the cultivation of cereals such as wheat and barley. However, in the middle of the last century, depopulation was accentuated and only one couple remained in the village, who were the guardians of the village. Nowadays, in Saranyana, houses are being restored and little by little the buildings of the village are being recovered. A small tribute to the memory of all the men and women who lived and worked in the village. Saranyana and the other three abandoned villages are a look back over half a millennium if you walk through their houses. However, these villages do not die if you remember and visit them, for they are a strong testimony to the human legacy that preceded us.