“El Castillo de Papa Luna” or the Castle of Pope Luna – a must stop along the Mediterranean coast of Spain in the Province of Castellon. It is located in the city of Peñiscola, a little coastal town with cobbled streets, an ideal white-sand beach, lots of seafood restaurants and the most breathtaking castle views…
Welcome to Peñiscola
Peñiscola has become quite touristic in these past years. Recently, it was one of the “Game of Thrones” filming locations, which brought a lot of international fans to this small Spanish city. However, I still included this post into my Blog Series: Undiscovered Spain. No need to mention, one way or another Peñiscola is hardly as internationally famous as Barcelona or Granada. Nevertheless, the best gems are often hidden: the Peñiscola castle is not an exception. Its tiny little streets are full of old charm and the views from the castle are simply breathtaking!
Rising 67m above the Mediterranean, the Peñiscola castle was a residence of Benedict XIII (Papa Luna) from 1417 till 1423. Built in 13 century on the remains of the Arabic fortress, “El Castillo de Papa Luna” is an important monument of our history which survived several époques.
Pope Luna: Who was he?
From 1378 to 1417 the Roman Catholic Church split. It would be fair to say that the division was driven more by politics rather than any theological disagreements. Three men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Benedict XIII/ Pope Luna was one of them. Council of Constance (1414–1418) tried to end with this split (Great Schism) and Benedict XIII was considered an anti-Pope. However, until the last day of his life, Pope Luna refused to surrender his Papal tiara and follow the orders of the Roman church. He moved to Peñiscola and turned it into his Papal court.
The whole story of Pope Luna is full of mystery and legends. His personality was quite contradictory and the stories vary significantly: some say he was a saint, others that he was a lunatic completely out of his mind. One of the most popular legends states one night he was escaping the castle after a betrayal and lost a golden ring that no one has found till nowadays. No matter the true story behind – the Peñiscola castle definitely has some magical vibes in the air. No wonder the creators of Games of Thrones have chosen it as one of the main Season 5 filming locations.
By the way: History geeks, did you know there were two other Popes of Rome born and raised in Spain?! Read more: The Jativa Castle and Historical Valencia: The Borgia Sites.