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13
Oct
2017

This week we are visiting the Castle of Peñíscola

If at any time you have ever thought to visit Peñíscola, to spend your holidays, or to rest and disconnect during a weekend, surely you know of that great fortification that safeguards the Mediterranean Sea from the historic Castellón city on the coast.

We are talking about this immense construction which was carried out by the legendary Templar Knights in the XIII century on an old Arab settlement. A huge and robust castle in an authentic Gothic-romantic style, which rose just above the top of the characteristic rocky range, striking rock that is attached to land by a small Island of sand.

Castle Papa Luna

We are talking about the Great Castle of Peñíscola, also known as the Castillo Papa Luna, whose construction began in 1294 and finished in 1307.

Now a day, the guided visits to the Castle of Peñíscola are customary due to the constant interest of the public. A point of great tourist and cultural attraction, which has been intensified by that large collection of film sequences of which Peníscola and the castle have been directly used, which have been accumulating for more than 100 years.

 

How to get to the Castle of Peñiscola

Streets of the historical part of Peñíscola

If you are staying at our Hotel Servigroup Papa Luna, you will see the castle from our establishment, and most likely from your room.

Getting to the Castle Peñíscola from the Hotel Papa Luna is very simple. You only have to go along the promenade of the North Beach and enter the old town.

The most direct way is to walk up the Ramp of Felipe II, which you will find at the entrance to the historical center of Peñíscola. Once you go up the ramp, you will find a small staircase adorned with beautiful palm trees along the sides, which will give you access to the Calvary Battery and the Artillery Park itself. There you can get your tickets to the Peñíscola castle and the traditional hawk show. The Artillery Park is popular for the large gardens of the Peñíscola Castle. Continue walking for a few more meters and you will encounter the entrance.

If before going into this historic palace you prefer to take a stroll through the picturesque and elegant narrow streets, when you reach the old town you can cross an arch, entering into the well-known Plaza Caseres and Paseo de Ronda. Continuing through these streets, you will arrive in a few minutes. Of course, along the short walk you will be surprised by its attractive shops, traditional bars and restaurants.

 

The Entrances for the Peñíscola Castle

If you are going with children under 9 years of age, they will not pay entry, although as an adult, if you do not qualify for a reduced entry, you will have to pay € 5.

On the contrary, visitors who are over 60, young people between 9 and 16, unemployed, students and teachers, have the possibility of obtaining the aforementioned reduced entry to the Castle of Peñiscola for the price of 3.50 €.

The visiting times for Peñíscola Castle in winter, between October 16th and Palm Sunday is from 10.30 to 17.30 h. On the other hand, from Palm Sunday to October 15, the hours are from 9.30 to 21.30.

 

What are you going to find at the Castle of Peñíscola?

Arms terrace of the Castle of Peñíscola

Once arriving at the gates of this great Peñiscolana fortification, it is time for you to witness this enormous architectural beauty, and all the intriguing and exciting history that is lived between its walls. In this way you can "travel" through its different stages, starting from its earliest Templar beginnings.

As soon as you go in, you will find a stunning entrance hall to welcome you, which will give you access to the stables and the guard house on the first floor. All this will surprise you by the true reflection of the day-to-day life of the Templar Knights in Spain, who inhabited the building in its beginnings. There you will also find a small room in which are often held exhibitions (of various types).

The Stables will amaze you with its vaulted canyon shape, characteristic for being somewhat pointed. You will find a door behind which you will see a small, steep staircase that will lead you to the same Hall of the Conclave, chosen by Pope Benedict XIII himself. It is there where the famous conclave was held for the election of the new Pope after his death in 1423.

In the same Hall of the Conclave you can see another door that will enter you in the dark dungeons, where it is traditional to throw a coin and ask for a wish.

There you will easily see other stairs that will take you to a direct access to the spectacular Patio de Armas, and from which you will undoubtedly enjoy its magnificent views. In turn, from there you can access the main rooms, such as the spectacular Gothic Room, the Water House, the Great Kitchen, the Papa Luna Tower, the Church and the Chapel.

Continuing on, you will also reach the upper terraces, where the views of the sea, the town of Peñíscola and the Sierra de Irta are worthy of remembering.

We highlight the Gothic Hall, which was used for receptions, hearings and solemn acts, both by the Templar Knights, as by the Montesianos and by the papal court. In it you will be struck by its three high windows and its two Gothic windows through which the light of the courtyard passes;  the Water House  is interesting because it was famously used as a  laboratory in which all the homemade remedies were created, very typical of the curial period, although before it was used as an oven in which the bread was often cooked; the Great Kitchen does not preserve a lot of details, although some inventories have come to us, in which the most typical utensils and the most typical furnishings of the kitchens of the different eras were observed.

 

Who were the Templars?

Templar Knights in Peñíscola

The Templars were one of the most powerful military orders of the Middle Ages. Founded in 1118 (or 1119, not accurately known) by nine French knights, all led by the great master Hugo de Payns.

From its beginnings, the function of the Templar Knights consisted in protecting the Christians who used to go to pilgrimage in Jerusalem after its conquest. Its official name was The Order of the Poor Companions of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, although they were more commonly known as the Members of the Temple, or as The Order of the Templars, since that was what his knights were called.

The order was finally recognized by the Catholic Church in 1129, during the so-called Council of Troyes.

The Castle of Papa Luna, has the most characteristic templar symbols, and for this reason the Peñiscola building is recognized as one of the most representative of the order. In fact, the Templar castles are very easy to recognize, all of them being characterized by their great robustness and austerity.

It was the last templar fortress, before the order disappeared definitively at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and thereafter became a great legend.

It was in 1319 when the Order of Montesa inhabited the castle, enlarging and modifying it considerably.

 

Pope Luna and the Peñiscola Castle

Pope Luna Statue in Peñíscola

Don Pedro Martínez de Luna, known by all as the great Pope Luna, was born in the Illueca Castle of Zaragoza in 1328.

At a time when the Christian panorama was centered on two episcopal sites (one in Rome and another in Avignon), Pedro Martínez de Luna was proclaimed Pope in 1394 under the name of Benedict XIII, having been a cardinal and right-hand man of the Pope Urban VI.

During his first years at the head of Avignon, the Montesa Order ceded to him the Castle of Peñíscola, which he himself constituted as the papal headquarters, and where he refused to leave the papacy after being excommunicated by Martino V, this began a long litigation about his legitimacy as Pope. It is thus that Pope Luna entrenched itself in the great palace of Peñíscola between 1411 and 1423, after being accused of being heretic and a traitor by the same Church, and dying alone and poor in 1423.

It is also said that he had to sell part of his most precious personal objects in order to live.

After his death, the Castle of Peñíscola ceded to the Holy Seat of Rome, returning in 1441 at the hands of the Montesa Order and shortly afterwards to the Crown of Aragon.

 

The Castle of Peñíscola and the Cinema

Castle of Peñíscola from the Hotel Papa Luna

Peñíscola has been a huge cinematographic stage for different productions over more than a century. It was in 1913 when the shooting of Ana Cadova took place. A starting point that turned the town of Castellón on the Costa de Azahar into one of the main environments when it comes to choosing cinematographic and television locations.

As early as 1961, the Peñíscola Castle was chosen as a grand stage in which Charlton Heston and Sofia Loren would offer us some of the most historic and memorable scenes of the cinema of all time. We are talking about El Cid which was shot in Peñíscola.

In the same way, other locations of the old part of the city served to grace, stage and give life to historical facts that occurred almost a thousand years ago. The Portal Fosc, the Ramp of Felipe II and the North Beach were also scenes that showed more Peñíscola of the early 60's.

 

The Castle of Peñíscola and the Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones in Peñíscola

The last major blockbuster in Peñíscola, in this case television, consisted of filming some of the most outstanding sequences of the popular HBO Game of Thrones series, for its sixth season. The Peñiscola Castle became Mereen for Game of Thrones.

Shooting was done using exceptional artistic direction. A spectacular backdrop on which were shot some of the most outstanding sequences of that decisive 10-episode blockbuster that did not leave any viewer indifferent. Some of the most popular characters, such as Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen, came to Peñíscola, and acted among the most significant places in the historic center. In this way, the Artillery Park, the Rampa de Felipe II, the Plaza Caseres, the Portal Fosc and the Paseo de Ronda returned to shine in their own light in the spring of 2016, being shown to the most faithful followers of the series about these five continents.

If you feel like visiting our Hotel Servigroup Papa Luna, remember that the Castle of Peñíscola awaits you showing its great beauty and its most intriguing and varied history.

 

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