Peniscola or Peñiscola often referred to as the Gibraltar of Valencia lies in the province of Castellon on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a fortified seaport built on a rocky headland attached to the mainland and rest of the town by a narrow strip of land.
The name Peniscola derives from the Latin peninsular or peninsula.
The fort that sits at the pinnacle of the peninsula was originally built between 1294 and 1307 by the Knights Templar. In the 14th century it was garrisoned by the Montesa order. The Avignon Pope, Benedict XIII (Known as Pedro de Luna) made it his home from 1405.
Benedict is commemorated by the Bufador de Papa Luna, a landward cavern through which the seawater escapes into clouds of spray. In 1960 Anthony Mann's film ‘El Cid’ was partially filmed at the castle.
Peniscola has sumptuous beaches, the finest of which is the north beach, which is around 5 kilometres long. This calm beach is perfect for swimming and sunbathing and is fully serviced by lifeguards and leisure activities such as volleyball, sailing and canoeing as well as being wheelchair friendly.
This pristine beach has won itself blue flag status and is backed by a palm tree lined promenade. The southern coastline is steep and rocky, dotted with tiny beaches and isolated coves.
There are plenty of things other things to do whilst staying in Peniscola besides lounging on the beach. The old city quarters are a visitors delight: antique shops, artist studios and pottery stores line the streets.
It is also a must to visit the castle with its moats, pontifical rooms, flag hall and the Papal Basilica where the Benedict XIII is buried. At 5pm the fishing trawlers come back into port and auction off their catch; you can buy fish right out of the boat.
There are many bars and outdoor restaurants and pubs and clubs are open all night for the revellers.
Peniscola is a real treat for avid historians and with such a significant story behind the town, sun worshippers too will be tempted by the old towns charms; on the contrary with its beautiful beaches the history fanatics are sure to go home with good tans!