Peníscola is a medieval town built on a rock hill between two beaches in the north of Castelló province in Spain. Birthplace of a pope and shooting location for Game of Thrones, Peníscola mixes a medieval castle with white painted houses and the Mediterranean sea as background landscape.
We visited Peníscola after one day in Ebre Delta, in Catalonia. It is just 40 minutes driving from Amposta and the visit is completely worth it. At this point we can say that Peníscola is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.
We enjoyed one of the small creeks in the south of the town. The beach had no sand but pebbles. However, the landscape was beautiful and we enjoyed our morning bath alone in transparent waters and no crowds. After it we went to the town.
We walked all along the seaside in a hot early September day. More than 30 degrees and a humit air welcomed us while the town was ready for its biggest anual festivities. The views of the old town and the castle from Peníscola beach is so beautiful that it is impossible not to take photos.
Then we started to go up to the hill while feeling the Mediterranean charm among narrow medieval streets and white painted houses. Mikonos, Santorini, …? No! Peníscola! Restaurants with Paella are found everywhere while reaching the top. And at the top, of course, we found the castle which is a must in your visit to the town.
The castle was built by the Templars between 1294 and 1307. Later on , between 1411 and 1423 it was the home of Benedict XIII or also known as Luna Pope, where he defended his legitimacy as a Pope till his death. When you visit the castle you will learn a lot about the history of this place and how important was for the Western Schism, also known as Papal Schism.
Just at the entrance of the castle you have one of the most beatiful sceneries of the Mediterranean: A lighthouse, white roofs and the blue of the sea and the sky. Believe us, you don’t need to go to Santorini paying 200€ for one hotel night. Here you can have similar feelings paying 3 times less. This is just a tip.
After the visit to the castle we ate Paella in one of the restaurants with views, just next to the medieval wall. It was delicious! And then we went down again and had cold Orxata, a typical drink of Valencia, in one of the bars in the seaside. There is no better way to forget about the heat and finish our visit to Peníscola.
Next stop? Morella, another medieval town between Valencia, Aragón and Catalonia. When we reached Morella the sky was black and one of the most violent storms we have ever seen hit us. The day after that thunderstorm was in all newspapers. But this will be explained in a future post.