The breathtaking town of Peñíscola, which is located in the province of Castellon, is a 90 minutes’ drive from the capital of the Valencian Community. Before visiting it, I had heard many things about this town, which has been chosen and named as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain - I totally understand why. Peñíscola is also known as the “City in the Sea” as it is enchantingly surrounded by amazing crystal clear and blue water. Its majestic Templar Castle, with its medieval walls, stands out as the town's main symbol. Pope Benedict XIII (Papa Luna) has made it his papal residence. The town was declared a Historical Conservation Area in 1972, and it was also one of the locations where the great series "Game of Thrones" has been filmed in October 2015.
Peñíscola is also the perfect day trip away from the city of Valencia or any city around this area. You will struggle to find a more beautiful and unique old town. It is formed by beautiful half-cobbled streets that go up to the impressive castle on the highest part of the hill. You can find plenty of craft shops, fashion shops, souvenirs, and small bars and restaurants with terraces and incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. I totally recommend walking around these beautiful narrow streets and discover its secrets. You will instantly think of a typical Greek village, since all the houses, shops, and bars are painted blue and white - so it bears a striking resemblance to places like Santorini or Mykonos.
There are also many landmarks you can see inside the Old Town of Peñíscola, so let me give you some information and details about them and tell you about the tour that is a must-do inside the old town.
The old entrance to the walled city is the Portal de Sant Pere, where the tour begins. One of the first stops is El Bufador, which is a natural tunnel inside the rock that runs inside the crag and leads to the city center. A bit later, you find the beautiful and interesting Museo del Mar, a tribute to the seafaring tradition. It is an ancient fortification in which artillery cannons on the wall, photos, prints, drawings, and audio-visual media seek to preserve cultural heritage.
Continuing with the tour, you get to Casa de las Conchas, a house completely covered with seashells with a legend hidden behind. After this original house, you will find the highlight of the tour, Peñíscola’s imposing castle.
Peñíscola Castle rises on the highest Parth, which was created in 1294 by the Templar Knights on an ancient Moorish fortress. It was the papal seat where the Pope Benedito XIII or Pope Luna took refuge for a few years. It is undoubtedly my favorite castle out of the many castles I have seen so far with the best views ever. And most importantly, the history behind this castle is particularly well explained and recreated. You will understand all about the Templar Knights, how they used and built this castle and the story about the Pope Luna, who used the castle as his refuge.
Next to the castle, you can find another Peñíscola's symbol, its famous lighthouse. From October to April/May, the majority of the shops and restaurants are closed. Peñíscola is clearly a summer destination. Since we visited Peñíscola at the end of September, there were not many tourists, and the weather was lovely - we even went for a swim after the tour.
Peñíscola and its old town are a must-see in the Valencian Community. You will enjoy every minute spent there and its incredible views from the castle. Stay tuned to find out about the Game of Thrones filming locations in Peñíscola in the coming articles.
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