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Santander-Mediterráneo Nature Trail. Calatayud Section


CN del Santander Mediterráneo. Tramo Calatayud

Following the old railway trails on the mudéjar country around Calatayud

This train crosses the monumental town of Calatayud, following for most of its part the tracing of old railway lines. During this spectacular, surprise-laden stage he traveller will be able to discover the Ayub Castle, the Augusta Bilbilis archaeological site, the River Jalón, the fertile plains around the Jiloca River and its pretty orchards.

The Calatayud section of old railway line from Santander to the Mediterranean Sea starts at the town limits, where the Calatayud borders Torralba de Ribota.

The distinctive signals of the Nature Trails, a bench and a bicycle parking welcome the traveller, who starts their route by descending a soft slope which runs parallel to the road N-234. The traveller immediately finds remains of the railway origin of this route, such a signals and a ruined gatekeeper booth where the old level crossing used to stand.

Puente sobre el río Ribota

To the left of the road, the main landscape is the steppe characteristic of the country around Calatayud. This environment, although arid and barren at first sight, is home to a great abundance of vegetation and animals, and its orography forms many gorges which discharge in the Ribota River. The traveller leaves behind a crossroad of paths that lead to family-owned vegetable gardens and second homes, as well as orchard fields. To the right of the road, pine-covered hilltops stand, while at the foot of the hills the Shrine of Cristo de la Ribota stands.

The trail continues crossing the bridge over the Ribota River, and shortly afterwards the traveller shall find an information panel which informs the traveller on the beauty, nature and evolution of the lunar landscapes carved by erosion.

Teatro romano de Bilbilis Augusta

Going forward, following the soft ups and downs of the old railway trails, which is perfect for practising cycle tourism, the traveller reaches a crossroads from where the Road of Veracruz, which leads to the eastern section of the Ayub Castle. The trail runs again parallel to the N-234 road, reaching the cemetery of Calatayud, which is left behind at the left of the road.

Soon afterwards, a resting area allows travellers to recover their strength. Besides, in this resting area they may find information on the important Roman and Moorish heritage which may be found in Calatayud: the Augusta Bilbilis archaeological site and the Ayub compound. Shortly before reaching the resting area, the trail turns left and then right to cross the road; please be extremely careful.

Detalle del puente sobre el río Jalón

After climbing a low hill, the trail regains the tracing of the old railway line. The signs indicate that a sports area and a Green Path lay to the end of the road. Just after this sign, the trail crosses the bridge over the River Jalón.

The signs for the Natural Trail end here, where an urban section without signs starts; this gives continuity to the trail, which leaves behind the tracing of the old Santander - Mediterranean Sea railway line by the broad path that opens at the right, known as Camino de las Fuerzas Armadas.

This path runs parallel to the Jalón River just before crossing the N-IIa; we recommend using the zebra crossing a few metres down the road. After reaching the town of Calatayud, the trail continues the riverside path by the River Jalón. This is a dirt path until it reaches a modern bridge, from which it becomes a paved path that runs happily along the river allowing for a fun stroll across the city. The trail leaves behind the Paseo Sexto Celorrio after crossing it by a subterranean path and arrives shortly afterwards to N-234, which may be crossed by means of a zebra crossing.

Panorámica de Calatayud

The trail continues using the bicycle track along the River Jalón, slowly leaving behind the urban centre of Calatayud as this track becomes a wide dirt path. The traveller reaches the Carrau weir, where they can find a resting area and interpretation panel which allows them to get to know the main characteristics and reason of constructions such as this weir. This section of the trail ends shortly afterwards in a road to the left of the river.

At this area, the tracing presents discontinuity, which is to be solved in the future, by creating a continuous trail that overcomes obstacles posed by the existing infrastructures (roads, railway lines, etc.).

Detalle de la Colegiata de Santa María

The trail starts again at the resting area of Cifuentes. A few metres afterwards, the ruins of the old gatekeeper booth stands before the road, which has to be crossed - please be extremely careful. From this point, the traveller enters into the lush fertile plains of the Jiloca valley, where the landscaped is dominated by fruit orchards, which is the traditional crop cultivated in this area since ancient times, as documented by many historians from different ages.

Finally, the traveller reaches the border that separates the municipality of Calatayud from that of Paracuellos. This section of the Santander - Mediterranean Sea Nature Trail ends here.



MIDE CN del Santander Mediterráneo. Tramo Calatayud

MIDE (Method for the Information of Excursions)

(Calculated according to the MIDE criteria for an average excursionist with a light load)


Further information


A monumental city in Aragón with an impressive heritage of mudéjar architecture, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. The River Jalón rolls though a city shortly after having been discharged the waters of its tributary, River Jiloca. The fertile lands of these valleys have been cultivated since ancient times, at least since the Roman era. Today, the fruit and vegetables from the area enjoy a well-earned reputation for their quality.

SinThe first settlements on this site date back to Celtiberian settlements located in the hills of Bámbola and Santa Bárbara. Centuries afterwards, on this site the Roman city of Bilbilis Augusta was to be built, which, in its full glory, boasted its own forum, theatre and thermae, and even minted its own currency. Its demonym, "bilbilitano", is drawn from the old Roman name. One of the most prominent natives of Calatayud was the Roman poet Marco Valerio Marcial.

During the Arab domination, the site was occupied by a compound formed by five castles enclosed by a long wall: Castle Ayub or Main Castle, Doña Martina Castle, Torre Mocha Castle, Royal Castle, also Reloj Castle, and Peña Castle. The first of those, Castle Ayub, was the biggest and the one which gave its name to the town (Qal’atAyyub). The history of Calatayud reaches a new highlight in 1461, when Ferdinand II, called the Catholic, was crowned as King of Aragón in the Church of San Pedro de los Francos.

The town boasts a rich cultural and architectural heritage which is dispersed around the streets of the city, offering the visitor a new surprise with each turn of the street. Its excellent cuisine must not be forgotten, as well as popular festivals such as those celebrated in honour of the Virgen de la Peña and Saint Roch.

Santander - Mediterranean Sea Railway

This railway line was built with the intention of linking Santander with the Mediterranean ports of Sagunto and Valencia. The first steps in the construction of this ambitious project happened when the Astillero-Ontaneda section was built; the corresponding works started in 1886 and the section was officially opened in 1902. This section was originally included in the Santander-Burgos railway line project. When this project was discontinued, the provincial governments of Burgos, Santander (now Cantabria), Soria and Zaragoza promoted the project of a railway line which would go from Santander to the Mediterranean Sea. This project included the construction of the Ontaneda-Calatayud sections, which, to the north, were joined to the already built section, and, to the south, with the Calatayud-Teruel-Sagunto-Valencia railway line, which already existed and functioned under the name of Central Aragón Railway Line.

After many events, the Calatayud – Cidad-Dosante section (previously, Ontaneda-Calatayud) was fully completed. The Santelices - Boo (previously, Santelices - Santander) section, which was the last section to be completed, was left unfinished, with only 35 km left to build. In this last section, the La Engaña tunnel is especially noteworthy: fully completed and 6,976 m long, it was, at the time, the longest railway tunnel in Spain.

This unfinished, disconnected line included 22 completed tunnels (out of 48 projected), first, second and third class stations, stain stops, railway sidings, stores, level crossing booths and hundreds of kilometres of railway. The works were abandoned and settled in 1959. Several subsections of this railway line were active for transportation of goods and travellers until the 434 km long section between Cidad-Dosante and Caminreal was closed in 1984. The Santander - Mediterranean Sea railway line was finally closed in 1985 and ten years after, in 1995, the Council of Ministers authorised the dismantling of all those railways sections closed to rail traffic, although dismantling works in the Santander - Mediterranean Sea railway line did not start until 2003.

Several sections are currently being refurbished to be used as trekking and tourist bicycle routes, and, in the future, to have a trail that joins the Cantabrian Coast and the Mediterranean Coast by means of the Santander - Mediterranean Sea Nature Trail, completing the dream of railway engineers of the 19th century.


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