The city of Peñíscola has chosen to champion one of its most internationally recognised landmarks, Castillo Papa Luna (or Peñíscola Castle). Visitors are taken on a journey through history, which is both entertaining and informative and also allows time to admire one of the best-preserved Templar castles there is.
The castle was built in 1294 by the Knights Templar in a particularly strategic location (a high rocky headland, some 64 metres above sea level). Its Gothic architecture has strong Romanesque features and also carries remnants from the Cistercian religious order. In fact, it has passed through many hands since the order of the Knights Templar was disbanded in 1319. It even served as a papal residence for the Holy Father, along with the Vatican and the Palace of Avignon.
The controversy surrounding the figure of Benedict XIII of Avignon, or Pope Luna, is well known. He turned the castle into his palace and library and lived there in seclusion during which time he defended his claim as the Pope of the Catholic Church until the end of his life.
The castle is full of legends and mystery and is a must-see for anyone visiting Peñíscola and the surrounding area. What’s more, you can visit the castle accompanied by actors who will help you relive times gone by with captivating stories and take you to a magical world which will leave a lasting impression.
Dramatised tours of Castillo Papa Luna
Peñíscola Castle is one of the city’s cultural landmarks where over the whole year there is an extensive programme of events on offer, including: classical concerts, Moorish marching bands, pipe bands, early music and Baroque music festivals, guitar festivals and musical bands, as well as operas, conferences, theatre performances, feature films, etc. Make a date to go to one of the events during your visit to Peñíscola!
However, the most popular and successful event—which is available most of the year—has to be the dramatised tours of Castillo Papa Luna.
On these tours, get ready to be impressed by the quality of the accounts, the performances by the actors/guides, and the sensational puppet show. What’s more, the enchanting historical surroundings, the location of the castle and the beautiful views over the sea and the town all combine to give the tour a truly mystical air.
On arrival at the castle, the tour starts with a stonemason who will take you from the entrance around the different rooms and courtyards. The stonemason, a character from 1200—the time when the fortress was built—will use the first-person narrative to talk about how the castle was built, the stone carvings, the styles, in fact everything there is to know about the well-preserved architecture of Peñíscola Castle.
During the tour, many important characters from the fortress's history make an appearance; these include a jester, a Templar Knight, King Philip IV of Aragon and Pedro Martínez de Luna, known as Pope Benedict XIII but more popularly known as Pope Luna, for whom this iconic Templar castle was named.
In addition, the tour offers visitors the chance to learn about the early years of the castle, its creation and use by the Knights Templar at the end of the 13th century to the middle of the 14th century, the period during which the Pope retreated to the fortress, including the French surrender and the siege...
During the dramatised tour you go through the Entrance Hall, climb up the steps to reach the Patio de Armas, a cloister similar to those found in monasteries with stunning sea views; and from the Patio de Armas you reach the main castle rooms such as the Pontifical Rooms comprising a work space (the place in which the Pope met with those who worked for him), the Hall-Dining Room, Main Chamber, Library and Study, as well as the Church, Throne Room, Conclave Room (also known as the Main Wine Cellar) and the different terraces with magnificent views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
The tour often includes the Artillery Park, a military area linking the area nearest to the sea (gardens, lighthouse, etc.) and the outer castle wall.
The dramatised tour is comprehensive and lasts between 75 and 90 minutes, and we’re sure that the experience will be so entertaining and captivating that it will only feel like five minutes.
Castillo Papa Luna in Peñíscola opening times and tour types
Throughout the year, on specific days from April to September, daytime dramatised tours are available, a unique experience in which different characters guide visitors through the fortress.
In June, July, August and September, evening dramatised tours (at 10:30 p.m.) are also available. The fortress is closed to the general public and exclusively opened for these tours. On warm summer nights, visitors get to experience the silence in all the corners of the castle, with the silence only broken by the castle characters coming out from the shadows, allowing visitors to be part of the magic and mystery.
Nevertheless, you can still enjoy dramatised tours in October, November and December.
In October, daytime dramatised tours are available for your enjoyment on Sunday 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Whereas, in November, tours are available on the 11th and 18th at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (These tours are included in the castle pass).
In December, on 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th, Christmas dramatised tours are available for your enjoyment, at 12:00 noon and 4:00 p.m., setting out from the Artillery Park, allowing our youngest visitors to enjoy themselves as much as possible. These tours are tailored exclusively for young visitors; they are more dynamic and feature magical moments which combine the history of the castle with the spirit of Christmas. They are also a great opportunity to experience the traditions and customs of New Year celebrations in mediaeval times.
There is still time for you to be part of this special experience in a location which is unique in the world. Tickets for our dramatised tours are available from the castle ticket office or from the Peñíscola Castle website. Prices offer amazing value and range from €3.50 to €5 depending on the day, tour type and the age of the visitor.
You now know what you need to prioritise when you visit this stunning town on the Costa de Azahar; theatrical tours performed by a group of brilliant actors who will captivate you and give you a glimpse of what it felt like to be in the time of the Templar Knights, where the youngest to the oldest among us get to feel part of Spain’s history brought to life.
Be sure to go on a dramatised tour, you won’t be disappointed!