The Ebro river has been one of the most important communication routes in the Iberian Peninsula.
Iberians, Phoenicians, Romans, Muslims and later Christians used the Ebro as an axis of communication. During the medieval period the river economy was forged in the Ebro river and more and more of them appeared and other crafts related to river boating. The activity, which only ceased in occasional cases such as floods or wars, grew slowly to the beginning of the 19th century. It was then that the navigation through the Ebro River went decreasing until the end of disappearing due to the emergence of the railroad, the roads and the construction of the reservoirs of Mequinenza, Riba-Roja and Flix.
Currently the navigation has been recovered for tourism and leisure.
In Ascó, you can sail with motor boats such as canoes and kayaks (single or double) or with small motor boats that take in different specialized companies.
You can also navigate through the Ebro through the modern replica of a lute (the traditional Catalan Ebro boat that has its origins in the Muslim era), called ‘ Lo Roget ‘ , the name of an old Moorish bandit who avoided its expulsion in 1609. Tourist trips between Ascó and Pas de l’ase are being made during the periods when River navigability is permitted.
The main street is narrow and winding, like all the old streets in this small town, with strategic corners, an easy defence against any invader. Ca Estisora almost centres the street and forces you to make a perfect four.
A small tower, with crushed stone embrasures and a round hole in the wall, which is assumed to have corresponded to a door or an apparatus that closed the street; it was the watchtower of the Moorish Quarter.
From the second half of the 17th century, the Ascó snow well is the only one left in these areas. Located in the foundations of a house, it is constructed with crushed stone and has a pointed vault, with a circular floor plan and in the shape of an acorn. The upper beams rest on ridges at different heights for the snow conservation, which was poured out from a window. Its purpose was to fill it with snow or ice and have it available for the rest of the year. During that time the storage and distribution of ice became an important business that involved a significant part of the rural population.
El seu propòsit era omplir-lo de neu o gel i disposar-ne durant la resta de l’any. Durant aquella època l’emmagatzematge i distribució de gel va arribar a ser un negoci important que involucrava una part significativa de la població rural.
This is how we call the antique vaults give entrance to Ascó’s wall. On Baix Street we can find the porches of Ciego, Baijunca and Cavaller; On Hospital Street, and attached to the house of the same name, we find the Peresans perxe; on the street of Plaça Nova, the perxe of Santo Domingo, and Pla de Vallxiqué, Porta de la Tarda, nowadays disappeared.
On Placeta you will find another one of the gates of the small city and on Mola Street the Portetes (small doors) are still preserved, a narrow alley or passageway for the clandestine entrance and exit of the town.
Discover one of the largest and most representative Morerias in Catalonia
A guided tour of the old Town is offered from Ascó tourist office. The aim of the visit is that the visitor will know the rich cultural heritage of Ascó related to the Muslim and Christian era and understand the urban evolution of Ascó during the medieval and modern period. The route passes through the most significant streets and buildings of the Moreria of Ascó (the original nucleus formerly enclosed by walls) and the Christian zone or university outside which will be configured in the walls with newly arrived Christian population after the Christian reconquest. The visit allows us to know the “perches”, the old medieval market, the house of the Comanador, the Voltes and Sitges, La Mola Street, the Sequerets Street, the church, the snow Well, Cal Pere Sans, Cal Cavaller and other buildings and corners of the village.
The visit must be arranged in advance at theoffice.
In the 8th century, the Visigoths occupied all of the Iberian Peninsula under a sole kingdom with its capital in Toledo. They took advantage of the roman organisation and institutions and adopted plenty of their customs and traditions. In Ascó, they probably settled at the top of the castle terrace, using the existent Iberian-Roman settlement.
Around the year 714, with a large section of the Peninsula under Saracen control, the Muslims, commanded by the caudillos Musa and Tàric, descended down the Ebro valley. They passed by Zaragoza, Huesca, Lérida and Tarragona to the Ribera d’Ebre and Tortosa. Since then, the village was known as Hisn – Adkun, a place name that led to the present Ascó.
In Ascó and in the whole Ribera d’Ebre there is a saying “the Moor Mussa is coming…” to scare the children. In the Priorat region it is traditionally explained that the moors travelled along the Ebro through el Pas d’Ascó or el Pas de l’Ase.
ASCÓ, A COMMERCIAL, AGRICULTURAL AND MILITARY CENTRE IN THE CATALAN EBRO
During the Muslim period, Ascó became a big commercial, agricultural and military centre in the Catalan Ebro thanks to its strategic location. Ascó ruled over a vast territory and had a castle, a mosque, an aljama, Arabic baths, a hospital, a mass grave, a market, some silos, an oil mill, a space for horse racing, a dovecote, a barge and a fluvial flour mill.
The village was presided over by the castle and surrounded by walls formed by the exterior faces of the outer village buildings. The walls were connected by gates, some of them flanked by defence towers. The activity around the village was really important, with llaüts navigating the Ebro, muleteers waiting to cross the river by barge, farmers working the fields or the potters on the river bank. The Muslims developed the building of fluvial vessels and it is believed that they perfected fluvial transportation with the llaüts and the barge and also the irrigation systems.
THE RURAL DISTRICT OF ASCÓ
The Ascó castle answered to the Wali of Siurana and constituted a vast rural district that reached Margalef, on the northern slope of the Montsant. The hisn (castle) of Ascó (Adkúm) led up to a small rural district (juz’, iglím) made of several hamlets bound to the Wali (Vinebre (Ibn Ábir), Torre de l’Espanyol (Turris d’Alboçalaz), Palma d’Ebre, la Bisbal, Cabacés, Margalef). The hamlets from la Bisbal (Mon Sacer) and Margalef (marg Haläf) where ruled by a representative of the caudillo in Ascó, who resided in Amilkarbesir – Avincabassaer, the present Cabacés. The rural district in Ascó was bound to the Wali and later on to the taifa of Siurana and was delimited as an area within an even larger one commanded by the city-territory of Tortosa. The fortifications of Miravet, Móra d’Ebre, Garcia, Ascó and Flix had direct visual communication between them and possibly with the Wali of Siurana by means of the Asco district.
GETTING INTO THE SARACEN PAST OF ASCÓ
Walking in Ascó means traveling to a Moorish past thanks to the aspect of its old town, which still preserves the urban Andalusian outline. The Moreria of Ascó stands out for its size and architectural importance. The darkness of the streets, the houses narrowing with height, the baixungues (the descents, sloping streets) narrow and pitched, houses with walls and porches will surprise you in every corner and make the visitor travel in time.
The Andalusian occupation of Ascó left behind a very rich legacy that can still be discovered by strolling down the streets or by means of local culture and traditions.
The Battle of the Ebro represented the confrontation of the best military units of two great armies: the People’s Army of the Republic and the Francoist army sent to the Ebro in order to repel the Republican offensive.
The route of the Battle of the Ebro Areas includes a series of routes through historical spaces and interpretation centers distributed throughout the region of Terra Alta and the Ribera d’Ebre, the main scenes of the 115 days of fightingwhich made the Ebro the hardest, bloodiest and decisive battle of the whole war.
In Ascó we can visit two places that are part of the Battle of the Ebro Areas, the Reguers bunker and the Camp of the 15th Army Corps.
In 2005 a huge republican camp built in 1938 was discovered on the northern slope of the Sierra de la Fatarella, the remains of the camp of the XV Army Corps of the Ebro, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Tagüeña.
The camp, built of stone and distributed on four terraces on different levels of the mountain slope, was a real village, where between July and November 1938, it is estimated that there were 5,000 Republican soldiers who lived there for 115 days. Which lead to the Battle of the Ebro. It also has shelters dug into the rock to protect the military from the bombing of Franco’s aircraft. The camp had sheltered rooms for the commanders, some of whom had direct access to the shelter.
The camp of the XV Army Corps was a real organizational point, which served as a place of instruction and training, distribution of food and ammunition and also for assistance and evacuation of the wounded.
Its location in a hidden and well-defended place, with a great visual dominion over the river, served to maintain a continuous contact with the republican rear. Staff later moved to the Flix anti-aircraft shelter, built on the need to create defensive structures to protect the civilian population from the constant bombing of the air force.
Bunker of the Reguers
The bunker of the Reguers is a defensive construction that was part of the system of permanent fortifications called “Fortified Line of the Cabeza de Puente Riba-roja-Flix-Ascó”, and had a dual purpose: to control the area near the river to prevent a possible Republican attack and defend the railroad track.
This fortified line was built by the Francoist army on reaching the river Ebro, and remained under its power until the offensive of July 25, 1938, when Republican soldiers crossed the river and occupied it without finding it. there is too much resistance. The surprise attack had been a success.
The bunker remained in Republican territory for most of the Battle of the Ebro, but only in the last few days were Republican soldiers fortified there to gain time and allow an organized retreat to Flix.
After the Battle of the Ebro, the Francoists occupied it from November 15 until the end of December, when they began the campaign on Catalonia.
With the expulsion of about 800 Moriscos by Philip II of Aragon (III of Castile) that occupied 154 houses, the Morisco period would end in Ascó.
This zigzag shaped street was ceded to the university by the Knights Hospitaller, who in turn converted it into a dryer for fruit such as figs and raisins. The diminutive name of “sequers” (driers) remained as a place name.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Ascó had twenty oil mills working simultaneously. The considerable concentration of these industries was due to the fact that the peasantry, and in particular the cultivation of olive trees, constituted the main economic source of the small city.
Nowadays most of these mills have disappeared. The mill of Cavaller, recently restored and renovated, offers visits where you can learn more about what this industrial heritage has meant for the municipality.
THE FESTIVAL OF SANT ANTONI D’ASCÓ HAS KNOWN HOW TO PRESERVE TRADITIONS THAT GO DUE TO GENERATIONS. IT IS RECOGNIZED AS A HERITAGE FESTIVAL OF NATIONAL INTEREST.
Carmel Biarnés locates the origin of the dance of the jota of Ascó to the Moorish time, because in the “Ordinances of the town of Ascó” of 1520 the dance is already mentioned. The Clavari and the Majorals, that appear referenced in 1739 carry out the celebration like organizers and perpetuators of this one. The festival, which becomes unique in all the towns of the Tarragona region, has a whole series of characteristic features that make it unique, such as the survival of the figures of the Clavari and the Majorals, in charge of the organization; the fold, with the collection of firewood by all the town; the traditional Three Tombs, with the blessing of the animals and the blessed bread; the traditional and popular races of horses, donkeys and mules, the only ones in the Ribera d’Ebre that have never stopped taking place; the lighting of the bonfire in the square that burns for three days uninterruptedly while the Ascó jota is danced, with its own music and dance. The winter festival becomes paradigmatic by perfectly combining devotion to the Saint with recreational, pagan activity. In 2010, it was awarded the distinction of Heritage Festival of National Interest by the Generalitat de Catalunya. This festival takes place on the weekend closest to January 17 (Sant Antoni Abat). Apart from the popular festival, there are also a series of events, such as dancing, concerts and various festive activities. We recommend that you schedule a visit to Sant Antoni and get to know our town in full swing.
The castle of Ascó, located at the highest point of the town, was one of the main Andalusian squares on the Catalan Ebro, with its hisn (castle) controlling the lands that climbed to the Montsant (Margalef). During the Muslim occupation, Ascó was an active village, full of porters, traders who sailed on a lute along the river and farmers who worked the fertile land by the river. With the Christian occupation, the castle did not lose importance and the Templars decided to create an order for its strategic position, with excellent visual control of the surrounding lands and the river Ebro, then it is believed that the castle s ‘expanded and strengthened.
Only a few remains of the castle are preserved, of which the sentry box stands out. The castle is currently being rehabilitated to preserve its remains and adapt it to tourism. The castle can be visited free of charge.
Assignment to the order of the Temple
Dissolution of the order of the Temple
Donation to the order of the Hospital
Fortress during the Segadors’ War
During the centuries of Muslim occupation, it was the residence of the Siurana Wali. From the Christian reconquest carried out by Ramon Berenguer IV it is in the hands of the Catalan counties. Later, in 1182, his son Alfons el Cast ceded the castle and the villages of Ascó and Riba-roja to the order of the Temple. The Templars occupied the castle until its dissolution, in 1312. The castle of Ascó also suffered a siege, ordered by King Jaume II who, in 1318, gave it to the order of the Hospital.
This order was present in Ascó until the 19th century, although the castle served as a fortress during the Segadors’ War (1640) and suffered severe destruction. Later, in the war of succession and later with the Carlist wars, the castle was dismantled.
Ancestral home of the lineage of Salvador, with the family coat of arms on the façade, built from 1632. Here ended the walled section of Ascó, the enclosed small town.
Bertomeu Blai Salvador built this house to turn it into his stately residence when he was appointed by King Philip IV of Castile as a knight with a right to a coat of arms. It is located in the square of the same name.
We have designed up to 8 routes, properly signposted, for hiking through our municipal area, some of them are also suitable for cycling. The routes allow us to discover the municipality of Ascó in its entirety. Climbing up to the highest ridges of the Serra del Tormo, Pic de L’àguila, a great Miranda from Ribera D’ebre. A stroll through the most fertile fields on the islands, the River Plain of Ascó. Discovering the areas of the battle of the Ebro, entering military camps and bunkers. Sighting riverside landscapes frequented by llaüters in the Pas de l’ase, a small canyon that draws the river Ebro between Ascó and Garcia.
In the beginning of the 14th century, after the Order of the Temple abolition (1312), Ascó became a hospitaller encomienda under the Amposta castellany. The hospitaller encomienda of Ascó, according to Pere el Cerimonios’ census in the second half of the 14th century, comprised the following municipalities: Berrús, Riba-roja, Ascó, les Camposines, la Fatarella, Vilalba, Vinebre and la Torre de l’Espanyol.
Ascó’s encomendero owned a house in the village, still preserved in the second half of the 19th century, that received the name Casa del Encomendador. The encomendero was in charge of the population’s government and took part in the war against Joan II. To the castle of Ascó came, from Aitona, the prince of Viana Carles d’Aragó and from there, he was moved to Zaragoza, prior to the time of the war mentioned. During that war, the archbishop of Zaragoza’s forces, the order of Saint John, took over Ascó in 1466.
THE INNER AND OUTER UNIVERSITIES
It is worth saying that, around 1510 the Saracen population was already fully Christian. They were the ancient Moors or new Christians and they were different from the old Christians. Around 1562, it is known that Ascó had two universities, the inner (with new Christians, replacing the aljama) and the outer (old Christians) which would be unified later on in 1509. Both of them, the new Christians or inner university and the old Christians or outer university, had their own order.
Ascó Muslims increased from 56% (1329), 77.5% (1380), 80.31% (1497) to 82% (1600). First Sarrasin and then Moor, the Muslim population in Ascó prevailed until their expulsion.
THE MOOR EXPULSION AND THE DISSAPEARANCE OF THE TREASURES
According to Henri Lapeyre, in Geographie de l’Espagne Morisque, Ascó was one of the villages in the Catalan Ebro with a higher Moor population. The consequences of the Moors expulsion from Ascó (35% of the population) were so ill-fated that in 1615 the village counselors wrote: “… the village remains today deserted, without universities, its houses ruined and destroyed, and the fields and vineyards and olive trees and mulberries devoid of people that cultivate them, headed to the same ruin and destruction, greatly diminishing the yields of the encomienda”.
The mistaken royal decision brought not only misery and desolation to the fertile riverside lands of the two greatest rivers in Catalonia, but filled the hearts of all the Catalans that witnessed the expulsion of such a fair people with grief and sadness.
GETTING INTO THE MOORISH PAST OF ASCÓ
With the consolidation of Christianity, Ascó slowly recovered its economic, social and cultural activity. The leading figure of the encomendador appeared, the person who ruled over Ascó, and the first manor house associated to a noble title in Ascó, Cal Cavaller. The village split in two, the Christian area and the Moor area, both with internal and external connections through the gates.
Without a doubt it is, along with Sequerets Street, one of the most typical streets in Ascó. This balcony over the Ebro follows the old layout of the walls of Ascó. On Mola Street, the houses leave the corridor of walls free that were destroyed by bombings from the other side of the river during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. Nowadays you can still see some of these walls on Mola, Nova Square and on the streets of Cavaller and Trinquet. The walls of the squares and houses are made of stone and mud or, simply, of mud.
Mola Street, shaped like a horseshoe, retains the typical doorways of houses of fan-shaped bricks, clearly a Moroccan influence. From this location there is a magnificent view of the Ebro, Illes, Pas de l’Ase and Montsant in the background.
The second biggest cycle tourist route in Terres de l’Ebre, after the Via Verda, is the Camí de Sirga or GR-99.
It is a route that follows the course of the river Ebro from its source to its end, about 1,150 kilometers divided into 59 sections of 20 km passing through the Autonomous Communities of Cantabria, Castilla y León, La Rioja, Country Basque, Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia. The enhancement of the GR-99 was encouraged by the main actors in hiking and trekking in Spain, who called the route Natural Paths of the Ebro.
In Terres de l’Ebre, the GR-99 is known as the Camí de Sirga. From ancient times, the waters of the Ebro have been furrowed by the various civilizations that have stayed there: the Iberians, Romans, Saracens, Christians… Usually the ships sailed pushed by the favorable force of the current of the river and of the winds. But otherwise, the help of pack animals and dredgers, men of force, were needed to pull ropes from the paths along the river to push boats full of goods upstream.
In the Ribera d’Ebre we find three stages of the existing 42, one of which passes through the municipality of Ascó, specifically stage 38 that connects Flix with Móra d’Ebre.It is definitely a good option to get to know the river and our small territory. Are you excited? More information at the Ascó Tourist Office or on the website: www.caminosnaturales.com
How does electromagnetic radiation work? What are infrared waves? What happens inside the control room? How is nuclear energy produced? To find the answers to these and many other questions, the Spanish association of Ascó – Vandellòs II has designed an interactive space to disseminate the energy and operation of a Nuclear power plant.
The information center of the Ascó nuclear power plant opens its doors to bring to students and curious general aspects of electrical energy, radiation, energy generation models, safety and protection of people, as well as discovering some of the most significant elements of nuclear facilities, such as the reactor cavity, the control room or the swimming pool where the spent fuel is stored.
In 1153 the Count Ramon Berenguer IV gave the Templars properties in Ascó. In 1175, Alfons I ceded them the Ascó castle. In 1182, the monarch gave the Templars that castle, though it kept some of its rights and, finally in 1210, Pere I gave all the rights he held to Ascó and Riba-roja. This meant the Templars obtained full seigniory.
At the end of the military reconquest of the area comprised between Lleida and Tortosa, there was a big Saracen population, deep-rooted from old and essentially devoted to the culture of the land. It is believed that the Christian forces suggested the expulsion of the Saracens, but facing a lack of human people to proceed with the repopulation and to prevent a depopulation harmful to the economy of the Segre and the Ebro riverbanks, Berenguer IV chose to secure the continued presence of that population by offering them direct protection and by granting the preservation of their language, culture, religion and their legal and political organization.
Ascó Muslims kept living in la moreria, surrounded by walls as the recently arrived Christian population built their houses outside, separating thus the Moorish and the Christian areas.
THE TEMPLAR TREASURE IN ASCÓ
The images in ten big drawings conserved on the prison wall of the Chinon castle, in the French valley of the Loire River, photographed and analysed by Pros, allow us to document that the treasure of the Temple was buried around the Encomienda of Ascó in 1306. The treasure had been saved in Cyprus in two ships that passed through Turtusa in Syria, arrived to the Catalan Tortosa, from where, during 14 years (form 1292 to 1306) the precious and mysterious coffers were carried up in llaüts.
GETTING INTO THE TEMPLAR PAST OF ASCÓ
With the arrival of the Templars to the village, Ascó transformed and grew. The newly arrived Christians built houses outside the walls while, little by little, a Christian area appeared next to the Saracen one that constituted a new closed village. The Templars turned the Saracen castle into a defensive and religious fortress, a Christian church was built and in the river, the commercial activity never ceased. Ascó, along with Tortosa, controlled the fluvial and terrestrial commerce in the Ebro.
The cohabitation among cultures deteriorated until the Moors were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. A period of decadence began, when most of the treasures forged in Ascó became endangered. There was a population loss, the agricultural production dropped and the fluvial commerce diminished.
In the Plaça Major (Main Square) the old Muslim mosque was established, later the university, thereafter town hall until 1987 and, at present, the municipal music school can be found there. Above the entrance arch of this building we can read the date of 1610, which corresponds to the year of expelling the Moors.
This square is built on top of some stone vaults which are accessed down the alley known as Secanella. This place is called Les Voltes and Sitges. Inside, some silos recall the function of cereal storage that Ascó restored from the Muslim period.
Feel the Ebro river sailing with the Llagut Lo Roget, a replica of traditional boats used for centuries in the Ebro valley.
Lo Roget makes tourist trips between Ascó, Pas de L’ase and jetty of Vinebre, crossing one of the most spectacular river areas of Ribera d’ebre, Pas de l’ase. In this small canyon, the Ebro is opening step between mountains leaving beautiful virgin landscapes. Enjoy this stretch of the river Ebro while listening to the whispering of the water, observing the abundant birds that inhabit it, admiring the immense riparian forests.
Start working at early May
You must arrange to reserve the places previously by phone 977 40 65 83 or by sending an email to email@example.com.