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The Costa del Azahar is a traditional holiday destination for Spanish people as can be seen in the heritage walk of grand beach front villas in Bennicasím dating back to the turn of the last century.  It has all manner of places to visit from the historic cities of Valencia to the South and Tarragona to the North with the delta del Ebro nature reserve where spanish rice is grown for the famous regional dish of Paella.

Immediately north of Alcossebre is Peñiscola, standing on a peninsula into the sea with its impressive old town and castle dating back to the 14th century. Once a fortified monastery and the home of Papa Luna, Pope Benedict XIII, the castle was immortalised by the film El Cid and is now the second most visited tourist attraction in Spain.

       

Peñiscola castle                                                                                  The church at Peñiscola                                                        View from the castle

 

Inland, the drive through the orange and almond groves reveals a very different landscape.  Past the looming bell tower of the church of Saint John the Baptist in Álcala de Xivert, the largest in the old kingdom of Valencia it dominates the town below.  

Many small villages are guarded by fortified castles, seats of the Templar knights such as that overlooking the village of Sta. Magdalena de Pulpis, alongside the familiar blue tiled church domes.

Further inland lies the interior region of the Maestrazgo.  Here, history dates back further still.  Near the town of San Mateo, found following a drive through striking countryside  there are cave paintings painted by early Ibereans over 7000 years ago.

To the south, the Roman heritige is in evidence at the castle and ampitheatre of Sagunt.

 

                                                                                                                            

church of Sant Joan Baptista ,Álcala de Xivert

Winding street in Torreblanca

 

Castillo de Santa Magdelen de Pulpis

      

Sagunt Castle and belltowers

Did we mention that it's great weather, blue sea and nice sandy beaches ?  After all, it is Spain !

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