LEGENDS AND TRADITIONS
CERVERA DEL MAESTRE
THE LEGEND OF FARAM
The Legend of Faram revolves around a monstrous and frightening dragon that resided in one of the caves strategically located next to the castle gate and that had frightened all the residents because it stole their flocks, destroyed crops with its fiery breath, and dried up the wells whenever it was thirsty. The problem, however, was that the beast in question was immortal, since neither the hottest of fires nor the best tempered sword or spear could end its life. It would only die if it ate a type of wildflower that only grew around the cave where Faram lived. Then a beautiful young woman from the area, disguised as a shepherdess, came up with the solution. She led her flock towards the castle entrance until she came upon Faram. The monster was amazed at the beauty of the girl and, with cunning and persuasion, she gained the confidence of the animal. So much so, that after a short time, the shepherdess managed to obtain a bunch of the aforementioned wild flowers, she made her best sheep eat them and, immediately afterwards, pretending that she wanted to reward the monster’s kindness, she gave it the sheep. Faram was so pleased that it quickly devoured the sheep without suspecting deception and, the next day, screaming loudly in agony, it died. So loud and powerful were the screams they that they were heard throughout the kingdom! Even today, on the harshest winter nights, the screams of Faram can be heard. Scientists call it simple wind ... but the oldest inhabitants know that it is Faram’s last wailing moans. The real explanation is that on days of gale force winds, the noise is produced by the air which penetrates and then blows through the various cavities and cracks found in the southern area of the castle. The dragon, could also be identified with the feudal lord of the castle, who oppressed his vassals by making them pay an important part of their crops as tax. Fact or fiction, truth or lie, the truth is that this is one of the most identified and identifying legends of our town.
EL CLOT DEL TRESOR
The so-called “clot de la bossa” or “clot del tresor” can be seen in the castle, it is a kind of cavity or artificial well cut into the rock itself located in front of the north wall (near a rectangular tower from the Muslim era). Tradition has it that a resident of Cervera who was doing temporary work in France, was told by a fortune teller that he had to return to his home town where he would find a fantastic treasure from the Muslim period hidden under the rocks of the fortress. He was joined in Cervera by another countryman who had been told the same thing in Barcelona and, consequently, the townspeople believed in the existence of this aforementioned treasure. Several labourers began to manually chip away at the rock, taking turns day and night, but the expected treasure never appeared. Tired of digging, and faced with the crop that was being lost, they opted, advised by the sacristan, to return to their agricultural work, forgetting about riches and treasures. However, they say that one person alone benefitted from the treasure: the aforementioned sacristan, who tricked another neighbour by telling him the least details of the case possible, to sell him his share of the fortune, he then left and was never heard from again. The truth is that the treasure in question was never found and, therefore, it must remain abandoned there for the wishful-thinking of some people ...
THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE KNIGHTS OF «SANT JAUME»
You can also see, on the outside of the base of the north wall (near the quadrangular tower), two small holes dug naturally in the rock that, according to tradition, correspond to the footprints made by the horse of Santiago (Sant Jaume) and the little mule that accompanied them. The events occurred in the middle of the reconquest period, when the Christians continuously tried to take the castle away from the Muslims. Faced with the impossibility of conquering it, as all the entrances were so well guarded, the figure of the saint appeared to the Christians standing in front, who leaped from the mountain located in front of the castle (the Colomer), allowing him to position himself in the fortress, thus opening the way for the Christian knights. So spectacular were the acrobatics performed and so much effort was made by the saint's cavalry, that the footprints left by them at the time can still be seen on the rock itself.
THE MYSTERIOUS UNDERGROUND TUNNELS
It would not be strange, although we have no knowledge, that the subsoil of Cervera castle housed tunnels for its defenders to communicate with the outside world, since it was common in many military fortresses to excavate underground galleries as communication routes with their immediate surroundings. The novelist Benito Pérez Galdós, in his well-known work The Campaign of the Maestrazgo (National Episodes, 1899) relates the following, through a dialogue between his adventurous protagonists:
“Nelet pointed out one of the conduits that led from there, cut into the rock. I went through (…) and found myself in the castle of Cervera del Maestre (…). For dear Nelet, to stop and realize that everything is a foolish dream (…). Don Beltrán tried to get this puerile belief out of his head of the underground roads, a work of the feudal age (...), assuring that if there were passageways under the ground they were short and only served to link the castles with some nearby stronghold”..
In fact, many years ago the end of an artificial stone and masonry piping was found on the ground floor of a house on Parras street, located on the geological slope of the castle, which, although partially demolished, seemed to correspond to the exit from one of those tunnels. Popular tradition, together with trustworthy spoken sources, seem to indicate this. Consequently, archaeological excavations are what must determine the possible existence of these artificial cavities, especially in an area, like that of the castle, underwent a filling process in the 18th century whereby earth and rubble were used to convert it into arable land. In 1957 a writer from the town reported that the fortress “does not maintain more than a few walls that serve as containment to the transported earth that, mixed with the mortar of its walls, serves to grow vegetables with which the parish priest and other parishioners help each other in their modest time”. . Recently, in the excavations carried out in 2005, it was possible to verify the above, since when barely a metre of earth was removed, a whole series of hollow rooms were found that corresponded to an old cistern and other rooms for its inhabitants.