A visit to Peñíscola means travelling back in time and immersing oneself in the Late Middle Ages.
Peñíscola has always been a crossroads for all of the Mediterranean civilisations which since the dawn of time have sailed across this sea of prosperity and culture. The Phoenicians and Greeks were followed by Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs among others. All sought after its advantageous location, its security as an impregnable fortress and its suitability as a habitat, due both to its climate and its provision of abundant fresh water which flows from the bowels of the rocks in the citadel.
Later, in Christian times, the legendary and enigmatic Knights Templar settled on the tómbolo, where there was already an Arab fortress. Not long afterwards, they were persuaded by its exceptional qualities that the site could be made impregnable.
Between 1294 and 1307 the current Templar Castle was built on the remains of the Arabic citadel. Responsible for the building were Frey Berenguer of Cardona, the Master of the Order of the Temple in Aragon and Catalonia, and Frey Arnaldo of Banyuls, the Commander of Peñíscola. The coats of arms belonging to both are preserved carved in stone, like heraldic stripes, above the entrance into the Castle and on the door of the Basilica.
The exceptional strength of its walls and slightly pointed arch vaults and the plainness of the ashlar masonry, as well as its bareness and austerity in terms of ornamentation, bear the hallmarks of a tremendously solid and sober military architecture which, stylistically, veers between Late Romanesque and early Gothic.