Peniscola (Peñiscola) is a cozy and beautiful Spanish town on the Mediterranean Sea, in the Valencian Community of Spain.
Firstly, there is an old castle built by the Knights Templar, which is not only the main attraction of Peniscola but also one of the most beautiful city castles of Spain.
At the beginning of 15th century it was the residence of the controversial Avignon pope Benedict XIII, also known as Papa Luna, and nowadays the castle located on a small peninsula hosts the famous “Game of Thrones” series shooting.
And secondly, Peniscola – it’s a long wonderful sandy beach line, which is a part of Costa del Azahar, or Orange Blossom Coast.
The castle and the sea in Peniscola
In summer time Peniscola is a real paradise for families with kids, with its gently sloping coast and a vast variety of activities and children’s playgrounds.
A dragon on the city beach
And the bicycle promenade with parents will be a great adventure for those children who are a little older and can steadily ride a bicycle. The cycle paths of Peniscola are very nice and comfortable, and there are dozens of bicycle rental centers all over the town.
The beach line of Peniscola with a castle view in the midst of high season
After the high season is over, when hordes of tourists leave Peniscola and most hotels and restaurants are closed until next spring, the town turns into a true paradise for those who prefer a calm and quiet relaxation.
Off season the beaches in Peniscola are quiet and deserted
This picture was taken in February
Even in January, which is the coldest month in Valencia region, the temperature on sunny days rises above +20 C, so it’s quite an ordinary situation to see people taking sunbathes on their balconies or even on the beach.
And it is always a great pleasure to take the air along avenida de Papa Luna, walking towards the medieval castle where the schismatic pope spent the rest of his 94-years life, hiding out from the whole world.
Most of hotels in Peniscola stand on the Papa Luna street (Avinguda del Papa Luna), which lies along the sea from the Peniscola Castle to the neighboring town of Benicarlo
This stylized “lighthouse” located on the promenade along the Papa Luna street is a tourist information center. However, in winter it is closed
And finally, after the fall of 2015 all the fans of “Game of Thrones” series have one more serious reason for visiting Peniscola.
The production team of the fantasy drama has chosen the pope’s castle and the whole historic center of Peniscola, with its fort walls and narrow historic streets, for shooting the fifth season of the outstanding telenovela.
The Peniscola Castle is beautifuly illuminated in the evening
How to get there
Peniscola is located in the province of Castellón, Valencian Community, Spain.
Total population of the town is about 8 000 people.
Coat of arms of Peniscola
The nearest airport is Castellón-Costa Azahar in Castellon (Castelló de la Plana), 70 km away from Peniscola.
It is a small low-cost airport which in fact was opened in September of 2015, after coming of Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline.
From the 15th of September Ryanair operates three flights from London Stansted to Castellon per week and two flights per week from Bristol.
You can buy tickets on Ryanair.com
The official website of Castellón-Costa Azahar is here.
On the platform of Benicarlo-Peniscola railway station
The high-speed and regional trains from Castellon to Peniscola run daily.
Tickets are from 5,45 euro.
You can find the railway timetable here.
More popular way to get to Peniscola from abroad is flying to Valencia or Barcelona.
The high-speed and regional trains from Valencia to Peniscola run daily, tickets are from 11,85 euro.
The price of ticket from Barcelona starts from 14 euro.
The railway timetable and ticket prices are here.
Please note, that there is no railway station in Peniscola itself, so the ticket must be to the Benicarlo station (Benicarló-Peñíscola), which is located in the neighboring town of Benicarlo.
Vinaros-Benicarlo-Peniscola local bus
There is a local bus service between the three towns on coast – Benicarlo (in the middle), Vinaroz and Peniscola
The bus schedule is here.
Walking distance from the Benicarlo train station to the Castle of Peniscola is about 9 km.
You can also reach Benicarlo from Madrid by train (with a transfer in Valencia, one-way ticket fare is from 40 euro) or by bus (tickets are from 38 euro).
With any luck the cheapest way of travelling to Peniscola may be a trip with the aid of Blablacar.es service.
Even in “low season” the locals often drive to Peniscola or neighboring towns of Benicarlo and Vinaros from Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and other cities, and they will kindly pick you up for a token fee.
Average price for such trip from Barcelona or Valencia to Peniscola by Bla-bla-car is 10 euro, but there are a lot of 8-9 or even 6-4 euro offers.
The trip from Madrid is about 20 euro.
Where to live
There are plenty of hotels, apartments and other kinds of accommodation for any taste and budget in Peniscola – from a cheap room (for 10 euro/person) to a fancy hotel.
For the best choice you can use Booking.com.
Planning to stay in Peniscola for several days, look through the offers on Airbnb.com, where you can find a lot of nice accommodations.
Most of hotels on Avinguda del Papa Luna have such a beautiful beach view
What to see in Peniscola
The main attraction of Peniscola is its historic center with a defensive wall all around and a medieval castle which pushes out into the sea.
The present castle was built by the Knights Templar between 1294 and 1307. At the beginning of the fourteenth century it was the home of the Antipope Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna), whose name is commemorated in the Castillo del Papa Luna, the name of the castle.
The monument of Papa Luna in Peniscola
With a split within the Roman Catholic Church (the Western Schism or the Papal Schism) the papal residence divided into two – in Rome and in Avignon.
Consequently, there were two (and from 1407 – even three) popes, each of which claimed to be legitimate.
After the death of Avignon pope Clement VII in 1394 Papa de Luna was elected as a new pope and took the name of Benedict XIII.
At the start of his term of office, de Luna was recognised as Pope by France, Scotland, Sicily, Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Portugal.
But in 1398 the Kingdom of France withdrew its recognition of the Avignon papacy. Benedict was abandoned by 17 of his cardinals, with only five remaining faithful to him.
In March of 1403, after a five-year siege of the papal palace by army, Benedict managed to escape from Avignon.
After the Roman Pope Innocent VII died in 1406, the newly elected Roman Pope, Gregory XII, started negotiations with Benedict, suggesting that they both resign so a new Pope could be elected to reunite the Catholic Church. But Benedict XIII refused flatly.
Eventually cardinals from both obediences, seeking to end the schism, arranged a council in Pisa, which met in 1409 and elected a third pope, Alexander V, who was succeeded shortly thereafter by Baldassare Cossa, who took the name John XXIII.
Under pressure from the emperor Sigismund, in 1414 John convoked the Council of Constance, which deposed him, received the resignation of the Roman pope, Gregory XII, and dismissed the claims of the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII. After the election of Martin V in November 1417 the schism was ended.
Benedict XIII, who still considered himself the true Pope, fled to the castle of Peniscola, in the Crown of Aragon, where he was given protection by King Alfonso V.
Papa de Luna lived there in exile until his death on May, 23 in 1423.
Contemporary Peniscola view from the Papa Luna Castle
Against all the odds, Papa de Luna still is a much respected person in the region.
The longest street in Peniscola, which runs along shore from the castle to Benicarlo, is named after Papa de Luna. In the center of historic city you’ll find a big monument of the banned antipope.
There are a lot of souvenirs with Papa Luna in local shops
Nowadays the Castillo Peniscola is a museum where you can walk through the antipope’s chambers and admire the garden where Papa Luna loved to pass his time.
And somewhere deep inside, according to the rumours, there is a secret staircase to the sea at the foot of which there had been always a boat waiting for the host of castle.
The admission fee is €3.50
Children under 10 years of age: free admission.
There was a time when these fortress walls defended the town from pirates and other enemies
St. Mary’s (Santa Maria) church, 1708-1714, valencian barocco.
On the fortress wall to the right you can see the marks of cannonballs remained after the enemies attacked Peniscola in the Middle Ages
It’s also worth visiting the Sea Museum, which goal is to preserve and promote the seafaring cultural heritage of the town.
Peniscola’s Maritime Museum is located in the most easterly wall of the promontory on the Prince’s Bastion, and inside you’ll see the seafaring heritage divided into three themes: fishing and marine life (marine species are featured in three aquariums), history, archaeology.
The next sight of Peniscola – a Casa de las Conchas (House of Seashells), the façade of which is full covered with sea-shells.
The wall of the House of Seashells – La Casa de la Conchas
Finally, it is so nice to ramble among the old streets of the Old Town, that haven’t changed for more than five centuries. In spite of the fact that it is inhabited by contemporary people and a lot of historic buildings, equipped with all modern amenities, have apartments for rent at a high season.
The Peniscola Lighthouse (El Faro),constructed in 1892, is located beside the Peniscola Castle. Its light reaches a distance of 65 km. In 1929 it was electrified.
The town-hall of Peniscola is located in the Old City too
- The port is on the opposite to the beach line side of the castle
There are a lot of fishermen in Peniscola
The evening port view from the Old City
And this is a “new” Peniscola with a pond in the centre, where the wild ducks live
The training of a local football club
Where and what to eat
There are more than 200 restaurants and cafes for any taste and budget in Peniscola. Although after the high season is over in October most of them are closed till next May, you’ll always find a place to have a good meal in the town.
As the town is located on the coast, the local cuisine offers a wide range of seafood.
The region is also famous for its artichokes, with Benicarlo actually producing artichokes which have been awarded the equivalent quality mark as a denomination of wine.
The artichoke in one of the local market-gardens
By the way, in Peniscola you can taste not only the various artichoke dishes but even the artichoke beer!
It’s brewed by a small local brewery Badum, which has its own pub where you’ll be also offered other kinds of “exotic” beer like, for example, pumpkin beer.
Address: C/ Maestro Roca, 22, 12598 Peniscola, Spain
Phone Number: +(34)654501690
The schedule of annual weather averages in Peniscola
Tourist’s reviews of Peniscola on Tripadvisor
Supermarkets in Peniscola and Benicarlo
Calendar of the festivals, carnavals and other upcoming events in Peniscola
“Taste of Plantago” © 2015