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Peñiscola

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Peñiscola is a town in the province of Castellón, on the Costa del Azahar, in Spain. It's more evident trademark is the impressive castle on the shore, built by the Knights Templar in the 14th century.

Understand[edit]

Since the middle ages Peñiscola has always been linked to it's castle. First as an impregnable muslim fortification, and later as a Templar castle and palace of the pope Benedict XIII (Papa Luna).

After the 20th century the city has relayed on tourism as its main economical motor. Films like El Cid (1962, Anthony Mann) have helped to popularize it.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Meanwhile the airport in Castellón is inoperative, the closest airports are those in Reus (125 Km) and Valencia (145 Km).

By train[edit]

The Benicarló-Peñíscola train station is actually located in Benicarló, around 10 Km from Peñiscola. There are buses connecting the train station with Peñíscola in summer, and Renfe [1] offers in summer (at least in 2014) free transport on them by showing the train ticket at the bus. The trip takes around 20 minutes.

For people not travelling in summer it may be a good option to travel by train to Vinaroz, just 7 Km further, as the bus connections to Peñiscola are more frequent.

By bus[edit]

Peñíscola lacks a bus station, but still a few bus companies run buses to the city.

  • Autos Mediterráneo [2] links local towns like Benicarló or Vinaroz with Peñíscola. There is only one line from Benicarló or Vinaroz and the bus advert clearly the destination in the upper part.
  • Avanza Bus [3] offers buses from Madrid for 36€, roundtrip.
  • Hife [4] connects Peñiscola with its net based in Tortosa (Tarragona) and finishing in Valencia. Roundtrip from Barcelona: 46€.

By car[edit]

From the Autopista del Mediterráneo AP-7 take the exit 43 to Peñíscola-Benicarló. Afterwards change to national road N-340 until the crossing with the CV-141. Continue throught the CV-141 to the CV-140, leading directly to Peñíscola.

Get around[edit]

Even having officially the classification of a city, Peñíscola has actually the size of a medium town. That means that distances are pretty short and not a problem to walk.

Still in summer there are four bus lines, being Plaza de la Constitución the main stop connecting them.

See[edit]

The Tourist Info Office is located in Paseo Marítimo.

Monuments and museums[edit]

  • The Castle: The Templar-Papal castle is without a doubt the main attraction in Peñíscola, dominating the view of the beach. The castle has 700 years of history. Built by the enigmatic Knights Templar over the ruins of a muslim fortress, the castle has been one of the residences of the Pope (like the Vatican and the Papal Palace in Avignon), when the antipope Benedict XIII, known as Papa Luna in Spanish, fled from Avignon to Peñíscola.

The entrance costs 2.50 €. Opening times: Monday to Sunday from 9:30 to 21:30 in summer, 10:30 to 17:30 in winter.

  • Museo del Mar (Museum of the Sea): Located in the Old Part, over the Bastion of the Prince, it's free to visit. It contains archeological remains, fossils and even an aquarium with native species. In summer is opened from 10:00 to 14:00 and 17:00 to 20:00.
  • Old part: The area adjacent to the castle is where most visitors concentrate. Landmarks include the walls, being the gate of Felipe II the main entrance to the old district; the chapel of the Mare de Déu d´Ermitana or the Santa María church of Peñíscola. El Bufador (the Hisser) is a natural curiosity, a tunnel in the rock connecting with the sea, bringing the noise and even water when the weather is rough.
  • Puerto Pesquero (Fishing Port): A relaxing way to finish the day is to walk along the fishers when they bring the captures of the day.

Nature[edit]

  • Islas Columbretes: Formed by four small groups of islands of volcanic origin, the isles are an archipealago of high ecological interest in the Mediterranean, just 60 Km from Castellón. It is also possible to visit the lighthouse. It's recommended to bring snorkel equipment.

From Peñíscola [5], motor launches depart from the Fishing Port at 8 am on Saturdays and Sundays to the Islas Columbretes, coming back at 19:00. The trip costs 50 €. (Telefon: 964480200, E-mail: info@enbenicarlopeniscola.com).

  • Serra d'Irta (Sierra de Irta): It's a mountainous National Park located south of Peñiscola often missed by tourists. It offers routes for hiking, mountain-bike, horse and quad. Within the mountains there is a hermitage, Hermitage of San Antonio, from where one has an excepcional panoramical view.

Do[edit]

Beaches[edit]

  • The main one is Playa Norte, 5 Km of golden sand on the northen side of the castle, offering also water activities like sailing or water scooter. In summer it can be overcrowed, but out of season it's often completely empty.
  • Playa Sur is on the southern side of the castle. Much smaller than the northen one (300 meters), it offers a view of the port and an alternative for rough water when the weather isn't good. The presence of the Nautical Station [6] allows the practice of diving, windsurf or kayaking among other options.
  • Playas del Pebret y del Russo are two small sand coves, the only ones located on the Natural Park of Sierra d'Irta. Much more relaxed that the ones in the city center, they offer a better contact with the local flora and fauna.

Mountain[edit]

The Natural Park of Sierra d'Irta offers opportunities for hiking, mountain-bike tours, horse riding and quads.

  • Hípica de Cati (Tel. 600 31 35 47) offers horse routes from 1 hour to 1 full day.

Buy[edit]

The old part around the castle is full of shops, from fashion to souvenirs.

  • La Casa del Papa Luna [7] (Calle Mayor 33) is a well-known shop for traditional goods and souvenirs. They sell a liquor called Liquor Papa Luna produced by themselves from kola nuts.

Eat[edit]

The caragols punxents (murex snails) are very important for the local cuisine, along other seafruits, fishes, rice and vegetables. Dishes like the all-I-pebre de rape (monkfish in garlic and paprika sause) or the suquet de peix (fish pieces with a light sause and potatos) can be tasted in several restaurants.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • Gran Hotel Peñiscola SPA [8] Hotel on the sea side.
  • Casa Azahar [9] Rent Appartment in peñiscola.
  • Trotamar [10] Book hotel in Peñiscola.

Get out[edit]

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