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Ermitana Kirche in Peñiscola, Castellón, Bild: GERMANZEILER / shutterstock

The tower, the park, the harbour: tradition and modernity in the popular holiday resort of Castellón de la Plana

On the east coast of Spain, right on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, lies the university town of Castellón de la Plana. It has about 170,000 inhabitants and is easily accessible because it has its own airport. But most tourists probably travel via the metropolis of Valencia, which is only 30 km away – or even with a cruise ship: Cruise ships often arrive in the port of Castellón de la Plana, and the passengers may then spend a few hours in the city. But such a short stay is actually not appropriate for the traditional city! If you can make it possible, you should take a few days for Castellón de la Plana, yes, maybe even spend the whole holiday here – it’s worth it! A beach holiday is highly recommended, as the water temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea reach around 25°C in July, even 26°C in August, and in September the water on the beaches of Castellón de la Plana is still around 24°C!

A stroll through the old town

Castello de la Plana
Castellón de la Plana is a popular destination in Spain in spring and autumn, Image: Bonacasa / shutterstock

The old town with its narrow streets, nice restaurants and numerous shops offers plenty of opportunities for shopping and going out. If you like to party, head to the small party district of Las Tascas with its cocktail bars in the evening. And during the day it is worth taking beautiful photos in the old town. Tourists like to walk through the market square and admire the pretty town hall with its arcades. It was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. In front of the town hall there is a fountain – also photogenic. The most beautiful photo motif and landmark of the city is not the town hall, but the tower “El Fadri”. It is the octagonal bell tower of the cathedral of Castellón de la Plana, the “Iglesia Concatedral de Santa Maria de la Ascunción”. The 58 m high tower dates from the 16th century and was built in the Gothic style. It stands separately from the church to which it belongs. The cathedral itself is definitely worth seeing, but much younger than the tower. After fires and destruction, the original church was reconstructed in neo-Gothic style from 1939 onwards. It has an impressive nave with two aisles and is decorated with beautiful altars and statues. Outside there is a small cloister. The Basilica of Our Lady of Lledó, built between 1724 and 1731, is also worth a visit – a place of pilgrimage for the locals, an admirable building for tourists and also a place of silence and contemplation. The basilica is painted bright white inside and out.

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Interesting and quiet: the museums

Not only the historic buildings, but also the museums prove that Castellón de la Plana is a very attractive place for those interested in culture. Two of the city’s museums should be mentioned here: The largest and most important museum in the city is probably the “Museum of Fine Arts”. Many archaeological finds are exhibited here, but also numerous pretty, colorful ceramic products. (An extra tip: ceramic jugs, cups or plates are ideal holiday souvenirs from the region!). In addition, interesting paintings and sculptures can be found in the museum. Also worth a visit is the Ethnological Museum (“Museo de Etnologia”), where mainly everyday objects of the 19. and 20th century. This is where the region’s past comes alive!

Attractive for families: the adventure pool and the beaches

Families like to spend an eventful day in the “Aquarama” adventure pool. It is located just 12 km north of Castellón de la Plana and offers attractions for swimmers and non-swimmers, such as various swimming pools, paddling pools and water slides. Children will never get bored here! But the beaches are also attractive: north of the city harbour are the beaches of Playa el Gurugú, Playa del Pinar and Playa el Palmeral. Every family will find a nice place here, even in the high season! The sand is light and fine, and the beaches slope gently down to the sea. Important for children and non-swimmers: Lifeguards are on duty during the bathing season. Sanitary facilities, showers and beach bars are also available. Another tip: South of the city harbour is the beach Playa de Ben Afelí. It belongs to the southern municipality of Almassora and is often a little quieter than the city beaches on hot summer days. Beach bars can also be found here. By the way, a walk on the beach is a wonderful experience at any time of the year.

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Rest and enjoy: From the park to the harbour

If you want to relax for a few hours, the best thing to do is to take a walk through Ribalta Park. This park is a “must” for visitors to the city anyway, it is one of the most important attractions! The Ribalta Park was laid out in the 19th century in the English style: with beautiful flower beds, hedges, pond and pavilions. The monuments and sculptures that additionally decorate the park form original photo motifs. The “stars” of the park, however, are the benches. They are not made of wood or plastic, as is usual in “normal” parks, but they are colorful works of art! Each bench is individually designed from colourful mosaic stones.

How about a trip across the Mediterranean?

Not only the large cruise ships dock at the port of Castellón de la Plana, but also smaller ferries that are on their way to and from the Balearic Islands. Many tourists like to take a trip to Ibiza, for example. But if you have spent a few days in Castellón de la Plana and fallen in love with this city, you may not want to leave…