The Maderada of Cofrentes
Last Saturday, 28th of April we had the opportunity to enjoy a great local festivity called the Maderada along with our group of British travelers who were totally impressed of this incredible celebration. Eleven years ago, Cofrentes decided to recover one of its ancient traditions for its festivities: the Maderada, which means the act of transporting logs and rafts down the river Cabriel, as it had been done over two centuries ago.
The eleventh edition of the Maderada began at 9:00 am, when dozens of locals met up at Plaza de España to march in a procession to the Cabriel Recreational Area to have a snack. After the snack, dressed like traditional wood haulers, they toss the logs and rags into the water to transport them in a symbolic path along the river, around 500 meters long. Finally the wood haul started around 11.30 am, after the blessing of the local priest.
The Maderada was a highly important business activity in the past centuries. Every year, with the arrival of autumn and the swelling of the river, the logs from the mountain ranges of Cuenca were transported down to Alzira and Cullera. Those were the days prior to railroads, and, of course, massive transportation by road. Thus, part of the wood was transported across Spain through the main rivers. The Júcar and the Cabriel rivers, which join at Cofrentes, were two of the routes used to supply the important woodworking industries in Valencia. The “gancheros” or wood haulers were the men in charge of guiding the logs over a trip that took several months. From the shores, onboard barges or riding the logs themselves, they had to control their direction, an activity that required a great amount of skill. The inhabitants of Cofrentes were famous for this. They were known as gancheros because they used a large wooden gaff with a metal hook at the end (“gancho”) to handle the logs.
More than a simple job, to be a ganchero was a tradition passed on from father to son. The wood haulers had to travel for months; due to the length of these trips, teams of gancheros were accompanied by a mudaero (“muda” means a set of clothes) in charge of taking the dirty laundry of the wood haulers and to bring it back to Cofrentes, along with gifts and handmade products they manufactured during the trip. The mudaero then returned to the group, bringing messages for the wood haulers, interesting news and, of course, clean laundry to pursue the trip.
In 1885 a milestone marks the end for the wood hauling to Cofrentes. The construction of a railway line from Valencia to Utiel encouraged the construction of a dock to unload the wood in Contreras, which was then transported by carts to Utiel and, from there, by railAfter the festivity we had visited the Fluvial Route, a pleasure cruise to enjoy breathtaking scenery which is only visible and accessible from the water. This time we were very lucky because we have seen an Iberian goat framed by the steep cliffs know as the Muela de Cofrentes.
After the festivity we had visited the Fluvial Route, a pleasure cruise to enjoy breathtaking scenery which is only visible and accessible from the water. This time we were very lucky because we have seen an Iberian goat framed by the steep cliffs know as the Muela de Cofrentes.
… A winery in Utiel and oil tasting in Segorbe
Apart of the Maderada with the delicious gastronomy of Cofrentes our British guests also had a chance to explore Utiel on the way, the land of wines, and Segorbe with the millenary olive oil traditions. In Utiel we had a great time enjoying the sight of the beginning of the spring in the vineyards, each of them had a bright green leaves welcoming the new life. In the first place we had visited the Wine Museum «Bodega Redonda» and then Hoya de Cadenas, with an interesting wine tasting of the royal variety of the region “La Bobal”. After the visit we had a great lunch based on “embutidos de la tierra” (pork sausages from the area) and local wine.
Wine tastingBefore finishing the trip we stopped in Segorbe, a land well known for its olive oils, there we had a fantastic tour in the old town and the Olive Oil Museum. At the museum we have learnt how the olive oil was originally made as well as its different ways of use, the meaning of refined oils and its characteristics by a great olive oil tasting. Finally we had a gourmet break based on olive pates, goat cheeses with marmalades accompanied by a red wine “Odisea” from the land of Castellon, a winery that is located in Segorbe itself.