10 wonders of Castellón you should see at least once in life

Although Castellón may be a treasure trove, it is perhaps the least known of the three provinces that make up the Valencian Community. Traversing its territory is an adventure filled with wonderfully unexpected experiences. And those boundless beaches are only a foretaste of what this province has to offer. Extraordinary natural landscapes, medieval villages, art, history and adventure are some of the marvels that constitute the essence of Castellón.

Castellón de la Plana, a city full of surprises

Castellón de la Plana.

Castellón de la Plana. | Shutterstock

Castellón de la Plana may be one of those slow paced provincial capitals far removed from the more popular tourist destinations. However, a stroll through its streets will reveal such jewels as the Plaza Mayor, the Baroque Lonja del Caño and the co-cathedral of Santa María. The city’s emblematic bell tower, the Fadrí, rises next to the cathedral and offers extraordinary views from the top.

Another highly recommended visit is to Castellón’s Grao seaside district, where you will find a delicacy to be seen and tasted, arroz a banda. Curiously, it is named rice on the side due to the rice being cooked in fish stock and served as a separate dish from the fish and seafood broth.

Towns full of history and art in Castellón

Peñiscola, a scene from a movie

Peñíscola.

Peñíscola. | Shutterstock

On the rocky peninsula of Peñíscola rises one of Spain’s most photogenic castles, overlooking the steeply winding streets and whitewashed façades of the walled town, including spots where choppy waters may offer another kind of surprise. Peñíscola is truly one of Castellón’s most charming towns.

The Templar castle preserves the memory of the controversial antipope, Benedict XIII, also commonly known as Pope Luna. It was this castle where the so-called antipope stood his ground against those who demanded his papal renunciation. From the castle’s crenels one can take in a cinematic setting including views of Norte Beach, a 5 kilometre-long beachfront not to be missed while in Castellón.

Morella, following in the footsteps of El Cid

Morella.

Morella. | Shutterstock

Amid a mountainous landscape in the heart of the province, the imposing silhouette of Morella can be seen from the distance. A castle constructed on three levels dominates the territory, while a 2 kilometre-long wall surrounds the town’s urban core. Traversing the fortress and reaching its heights is akin to travelling back to the Middle Ages. Indeed, this was the setting for some spectacular battles where the footsteps of El Cid Campeador still echo.

Morella holds yet other delights such as the church of Arciprestal de Santa María la Mayor, a magnificent example of Valencian Gothic architecture. A lesser-known treasure is the series of grottoes and cave art, a designated World Heritage Site which form part of the Mediterranean Basin of Cave Art.

The urban art of Fanzara

 

Ver esta publicación en Instagram

 

Una publicación compartida de Theic Camilo Nuñez (@theic_licuado) 

The town of Fanzara is an open air museum whose principle exhibit is a magnificent collection of murals. The town began converting its façades into canvases years ago and today, the Museo Inacabado Arte Urbano is a touchstone of urban art. It remains unfinished as the number of murals, already more than 160, continues to grow.

This quirky museum has an even quirkier origin. At one time, the town was divided over a decision to establish a landfill and art was the key to  recuperating public harmony. The rubbish tip never materialised and Fanzara has since gone on to worldwide recognition.

Culla’s medieval past

Culla.

Culla. | Shutterstock

It is quite easy to trace the history of the Knights Templar in Castellón and Culla Castle’s unique history offers a fascinating example. The castle holds a slew of mysteries including why the order of the Knights Templar expressed such an extraordinary interest in acquiring this particular stronghold.

One theory claims their interest was purely strategic. However, another theory holds that the castle actually marks one of the cardinal points which make up the Templar cross drawn upon a map of Spain.

While few ruins of the castle still remain, the town of Culla retains its medieval charm of cobblestone streets, archways and a parish church. Moreover, the town is surrounded by the beautiful natural landscapes of yet another wonder in Castellón, the region of Alto Maestrazgo.

Natural marvels in the province of Castellón

The secret of Sant Josep Caves

The underworld of Vall d’Uixo conceals an unusual secret. Venturing into the caves of Sant Josep will reveal Europe’s longest navigable subterranean river. A spellbinding place where light and the intense emerald green waters create an indelible visual spectacle.

Although only 800 of the river’s 2,750 metres are navigable, it is enough to appreciate the beauty of a place where the water has patiently sculpted the grottoes into a fantasy world of whimsical shapes.

Columbretes Islands, an underwater paradise

Columbretes Islands.

Columbretes Islands. | Shutterstock

Another natural wonder to be found in Castellón actually lies 50 kilometres off its coast. The Columbretes Islands are a small volcanic archipelago preserving an exceptionally rich biosphere. The name Columbretes comes from the Romans who found numerous snakes on these islands. Although today there is no trace of such snakes, the islands are home to a variety of bird species.

But Columbretes’ greatest treasure lies under the surface. The islands’ natural park is home to one of the most distinct marine reserves in the entire Spanish Mediterranean. Diving under its waters reveals a fascinating seabed rich in biodiversity and geomorphological curiosities. It should be noted that because these are such vulnerable ecosystems, visits are tightly controlled.

Castellón’s desert

Palmas Desert.

Palmas Desert. | Shutterstock

Castellón has a desert of sorts, though it is far from inhospitable. In fact, the Palmas Desert is a place full of life. And so why the name desert? It was the religious order of the Discalced Carmelites who erected a convent in this area and ‘desert’ was the chosen term they used to designate their retreats. And Palmas came from the indigenous species of palm tree found on the Iberian peninsula called Heart of Palm or Palmetto.

Located between Castellón and Benicàssim, Palmas Desert is a mountinous area of exceptional natual beauty and easily accessible by its many hiking trails. Moreover, from its lookout points, spectacular views of the Castellón coast fading into the distance can be seen.

The wild coast of the Sierra de Irta

Sierra de Irta.

Sierra de Irta. | Shutterstock

The Sierra de Irta Natural Park is a small paradise along the Castellón coast where mountains and sea blend together in one of the few remaining virgin landscapes along the Levante coast. Rather than long beaches, the coast of Sierra de Irta is a series of hidden coves among the cliffs where it is still possible to relax in near solitude.

Ancient watchtowers still sit atop some of the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. While saltwater may abound, the freshwater springs adjacent to the seashore remain a curiosity. A unique landscape located between two of Castellón’s most famous and popular destinations, Peñíscola and Alcossebre.

The thermal springs of Fuente de los Baños

Fuente de los Baños.

Fuente de los Baños. | Shutterstock

In the heart of the Espadán mountain range flow clear freshwater springs set in a majestic landscape. The temperature of these therapeutic waters remains a constant 25 degrees celsius year-round. This little gem is known as the Fuente de los Baños de Montanejos.

A place like this is bound to be rife with legend. In fact, it is said that the Almohad caliph, Abu Zayd, ordered the construction of these Arab baths at Montanejos in order for his harem of women to maintain their beauty. The ruins of the ancient spa can still be seen along the river as well as the legendary spring which gave this place its name.

You can also read this article in Spanish here.

 

Follow us on Facebook!


About the author