Peniscola Tourist Attractions
12km/7.5mi from Alcalá de Chivert a side road branches off N 340 on the right to Peñíscola (73km/45mi from Castellón), on a rocky peninsula reaching out into the Mediterranean.
The picturesque little town of Peñíscola huddles within its stout walls in the shadow of its castle. The Phoenicians and the Greeks, followed later by the Carthaginians, established a stronghold on the promontory, as did the Moors, from whom King Jaime I captured it in 1223. He then handed the castle over to the Knights Templar, who gave it roughly its present form. In 1319 it passed to the Order of Montesa. Its later history is closely bound up with the fate of the Aragonese Cardinal Pedro de Luna, who, as the Antipope Benedict XIII, contested possession of the Holy See with Popes Urban VI and Boniface VII. After losing all support he withdrew in 1415 from Avignon to Peñíscola, where he maintained his claim to be the rightful Pope and held a modest court in the castle. The chapel, library and other apartments used by the Pope, together with the meeting-place of the conclave of cardinals, are among the rooms shown to visitors. Benedict XIII died in the castle in 1424. The treasury of the Baroque parish church in the old town preserves some mementos of him.
Virgen de la Ermitana
Near the castle is the church of the Virgen de la Ermitana, where the Moros y Cristianos dance is performed annually in September - a commemoration of the fighting between Moors and Christians. The church contains an image of the Virgin said to have belonged to the Apostle St. James. The old town of Peñíscola is crowded with visitors in summer; the newer part of the town is a district of hotels and apartment blocks just off the beaches.