With cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, the small town of Peñíscola is a picturesque paradise. This fortified seaport is famous for the Papa Luna castle - home to Pope Benedict from 1417 to 1423. It has also been the filming location for various films and tv shows such as El Cid and, more recently, Game of Thrones.
Fun Fact: Peñíscola is one of just 3 papal cities in the world.
Bocairent is a small town with just over 4000 inhabitants - but it is definitely not a place to miss. Here you can take the beautiful hiking trail through the mountains of the Sierra Mariola National Park, as well as explore the medieval old town which has been declared a historic-artistic site.
Fun Fact: Bocairent’s bullring, constructed in 1843, is considered the oldest in the Valencian Community.
With its ancient stone, whitewashed houses, with rustic terracotta coloured roofs, it’s no surprise that Morella has been voted one of the prettiest villages in Spain. It is an ancient, walled town with notable features including the 14th century castle and 13th century churches.
Fun Fact: Morella is renowned for the local sweet dish called Flaó - a cheesecake originally made at Easter time.
The little village of (El Castell de) Guadalest is a hidden paradise situated on a 500 metre high rock, with stunning views down the valley to the sea and over a turquoise reservoir below. While only 200 people habitually live there, it is a popular destination for tourists to see the 11th century castle built there under Muslim rule.
Fun Fact: At the start of July, Guadalest celebrates the ‘Day of the Tourist’ by welcoming visitors with a giant paella.
High up on a 1,121 metre tall mountain you will find the small town of Culla, inhabited by just 633 people. It is a beautiful village with a mix of history and magic, where you can walk the same streets as the templar knights once did. Its historic centre was declared a site of cultural interest in 2004 and you can see its medieval heritage from the Muslim castle and Iberian fortress.
Fun Fact: Culla has been conquered by Moors, Christians and the Templar Knights.
Along with Morella, Vilafamés has been voted one of the prettiest villages in Spain. It sits on a hill and bears shades of rustic brown, along with the bright colours of the flowers that adorn the buildings. Archeologists believe the village has been inhabited for 80,000 years, and the oldest buildings date back to muslim rule in the 11th century.
Fun Fact: After parts of Vilafamés were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War, some artists in the 1970s found the village and helped to paint and reconstruct it.
Sagunto is an ancient Roman city that is filled with history. It is home to Roman remains including a theatre built in the 1st century that could hold 6,000 spectators. The main highlight of this town is Sagunto castle - a 1km long fortification draped along the hillside. Its mixture of different architecture from Romans, Arabs and Christians makes it a must see for anyone interested in Spanish history.
Fun Fact: Now called Sagunto, this ancient city was originally called Saguntum by the Romans.
Xàtiva is a pretty coastal town situated on the banks of the River Albaida in Valencia. It has been declared a Historic-Artistic site as it preserves a wealth of artistic heritage: The Renaissance collegiate church, palaces of the Marquis de Montortal and the Marquis of Alarcó, and the baroque San Francisco fountains.
Fun Fact: A neanderthal skull was found in the village that dates back to 30,000 BC.
Moraira is a small coastal town that, whilst only having a permanent population of 9,000, becomes a tourist hotspot for 30,000 people in the summer. While it is a popular modern site for holiday-makers, it has a lot of history. It has been conquered by Moors, Christians and Barbary pirates - who built the Castillo de Moraira in 1742.
Fun Fact: Moraira has over 1,000 hectares of vineyards to make grapes for wine.
Nestled inland in the Valencia province is the lovely old town of Ontinyent. It offers a unique aesthetic for those interested in architecture, with its contrasting 18th century mansions and 19th century modest Valencian buildings. A popular landmark is the Iglesia de Santa María with its 71 metre tall bell tower. Another place of interest is the Palace of the Duchess of Almodòver with its Valencian Gothic influence.
Fun Fact: The Palace of Ontinyent was a royal residence for centuries, housing the likes of Kings Jaume I, Pedro el Grande and Jaume II.
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