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Hermitages and churches

The stones here speak, because they are a part
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Ermita de Sant Sebastià de Murla

The chapel dedicated to Sant Sebastià in Murla is located on the mountainside of the mountain known as Cavall Verd, immediately north of the town. There is a footpath to reach it, but one can also get there by vehicle via a track that starts from the road connecting Murla with the municipalities of Fleix and Campell in the valley called La Vall de Laguar.

There is an attractive natural environment typical of the Mediterranean, with abundant pine forests and shrubbery. Around it, a kind of viewpoint with benches has been set up, and the last stations of the Calvary lead up to it. From there, it is possible to enjoy excellent views.

It was first documented at the end of the 16th century, although it is likely older. Some sources suggest that its origin could date back to the so-called conquest hermitages, although it has undergone significant modifications since then. Its dedication to Sant Sebastià, the protector against the plague, could place it in the 14th century when this disease devastated the region.

The rebellious Moors overtook the chapel during the uprising of 1609 that followed their expulsion decree, and so it suffered severe damage. Later, it was rebuilt to its current appearance. In modern times, this temple was rehabilitated between 1994 and 1995 with work, materials, and funds provided by volunteers. Despite being located in a remote area, it continues to maintain a good and well-kept appearance.

Constructed of masonry with reinforcements from lateral buttresses and a gabled tile roof, it has a rustic appearance that suits its natural surroundings. It rises on a platform that overcomes the mountainous terrain. The façade has stone voussoirs on either side of the door, covered with plaster and framed by a slightly pointed brick arch. Next to it, there is a ceramic altarpiece with the name of the chapel. Crowning the frontispiece is the bell gable that was added in the last restoration. The bell it houses comes from the Church of Sants Joans in Valencia, which donated it for this purpose to the parish of Sant Miquel in Murla. 

The single nave of the building is covered with a barrel vault with two transverse arches that divide it into three sections, each with a shallow lateral opening occupied by benches. On the Epistle Side, there is a small rounded pulpit with vegetal decoration attached to the wall. A Gothic altarpiece occupies almost the entire wall at the front, with the place of honour reserved for the image of Sant Sebastià, flanked by two other saints who protect against epidemics: Sant Roc on the left and Sant Antoni Abat on the right.

Murla celebrates its feast day on the Saturday closest to January 20th. On this day, after the traditional awakening, a pilgrimage is made to the hermitage where a Mass is celebrated, and then people enjoy a picnic on the esplanade of the chapel. Later, the image of the Saint is brought down to the town where it is paraded through the streets, and the festive day concludes with dinner and revelry.

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