The old town at Peniscola has almost become an afterthought since the heavy tourist development of the area. Characterless, high rise blocks dominate the miles of beach front and signs at every beach entrance tell you that you basically can’t do anything except sit still set the tone for what has become a high expense, low return industry.
Thankfully the old town serves to alleviate some of this modern and disgusting control-freakery and although it only covers a small area of the town it is possible to wander for hours per day, repeatedly and still enjoy its confines.
From the rocks at its base where they meet the gentle, clear blue sea to the rising cobbled pathways that pass beneath great stone archways where the sun never penetrates and on to the twisting streets and intersections which take you up staircases to the higher walls and better views; the place is a mazy riddle of stone and shade which has managed to preserve its age old essence.
Shops sell hand painted arts and crafts, metal sculptures of butterflies and lizards, or more modern affairs such as motorcycle helmets, sunglasses and katanas (why?).
You can immerse yourself in cafés, bars and restaurants sampling traditional food and wine and of course the usual English and German favourites which seem to greet you at every turn in every town along the coast.
For those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of contemporary tourism perhaps Peniscola should only be a stop over. That said, the old town is a beautiful slice of Spanish history, steeped in the blood of Saracens, Moors, Crusaders and the Spanish themselves.
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