RUTA 99 is being hailed as Valencia’s own Camino de Santiago, linking the least populated towns and villages in the region, from Herbés in Castellón to Famorca in Alicante.
The 24 municipalities along the route, have been chosen as they each have fewer than 100 inhabitants, and along the way visitors will enjoy the beauty of inland Valencia, meet friendly people and try the gastronomic delights on offer.
Having few residents doesn’t mean these towns and villages are sleepy or boring, in fact they are often quite lively, especially at weekends when family members return from nearby larger towns. Ruta 99 aims to show that these villages have a lot of life to them, and we get a glimpse of that in the promotional video, featuring the Valencian band Bajoqueta Rock.
Photographer Marga Ferrer, who was commissioned by the regional government to photograph the towns and villages, saw a very different side to what many of us may think these villages are like. She said: ” They are picture-postcard villages. The people are friendly and welcoming. Also, we have the preconceived idea that there are only old people in villages, but there are also young people and children. We don’t want to miss the truth. The photographs show that there is life in our villages and not just ruins and castles, because if one thing is clear it’s that these villages have an impressive historical and cultural potential.”
Ruta 99 was unveiled on Tuesday by regional president, Ximo Puig, in Castellón, the province with the largest number of villages in danger of depopulation. In fact, 17 of the 24 municipalities are in Castellón province.
Puig was joined by Jeannette Segarra, director of AVANT, (Agenda Valenciana Antidespoblament), the organisation behind the project, and he stressed that the double aim was “to avoid anyone leaving their town or village due to a lack of opportunities and to improve the quality of life in all corners of the region.”
Travellers wanting to cover the route can obtain a card which they have stamped in each of the towns and villages they visit. For more information visit https://www.ruta99.gva.es/
The towns and villages in Castellón are: Herbés, Palanques, Vallibona and Villores (comarca de Els Ports), Castell de Cabres (Baix Maestrat), Higueras, Matet, Pavías, Sacañet, (Alto Palancia), Espadilla, Fuente la Reina, Fuentes de Ayódar, Torralba del Pinar, Torrechiva, Vallat, Villamalur and Villanueva de Viver (Alto Mijares). Meanwhile in València province from el Rincón de Ademuz, Puebla de San Miguel and, from La Vall d’Albaida, Sempere and Carrícola. Finally, in Alicante la ruta encompasses Comptat, in Benillup, Benimassot, Famorca and Tollos.
But the list is not closed and other towns and villages are welcome to join them in the future.