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Coats of arms of Peñíscola.
Peníscola (Peñíscola in Castilian) is a Valencianmarker municipality located on the Costa del Azaharmarker along the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spainmarker in the province of Castellómarker. It is presently a tourist destination for Northern Europeans in search of some sun.

History

Peníscola, often called the Gibraltarmarker of Valenciamarker, is a fortified seaport, with a lighthouse, built on a rocky headland about 220 feet (67 m) high, and joined to the mainland by only a narrow strip of land (Peníscola is a local evolution of Latin peninsula). Built originally between 1294 and 1307[179770] by the Knights Templar, in the fourteenth century it was garrisoned by the Knights of Montesa, and in 1420 it reverted to the Crown. From 1415 it was the home of the schismatic Avignon pope Benedict XIII , whose name is commemorated in the Bufador de Papa Luna, a curious cavern with a landward entrance through which the seawater escapes in clouds of spray.

The castle

Campanario de la Madre de Dios
The castle where Benedict lived from 1417 until his death in 1423 was restored, improved and new walls were added in 1960 when Anthony Mann's film El Cid was partially filmed there. The town and castle of Peníscola played the role of Valenciamarker. The castle is now a popular tourist attraction and the beaches and surrounding area is a popular family holiday resort.

The Film Festival

Peníscola hosts an annual comedy film festival that draws Spanish and foreign actors and filmmakers and features screenings in historic venues. That the festival celebrates comedy is a natural fit; the city was the backdrop for Luis Berlanga's comedic masterpiece Calabuch.

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