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Take a trip to one of Spain's most inviting cities on your next Iberian cruise – Castellón de la Plana. The city bursts with character, from its restored historical landmarks to its wealth of exciting modern culture – and at the heart of it all lies a city made up primarily of family-run businesses, and a love of the arts and beautiful spaces.
There’s plenty to see in Castellón if you opt for a shore excursion in this warm coastal city. Look out for the lone bell tower known as ‘The Single Man’, or the old Rope Market which represents a crucial trade in the city’s past. Along with the theatre and the bishop’s palace, there are also some stand-out sights that you’ll want to see during your time here:
Santa Maria Cathedral
This beautiful Gothic church is an enduring structure, having been utterly destroyed twice over – once by a raging fire in the middle ages, and again during the Spanish Civil War. The Cathedral’s modern incarnation combines architectural styles from the early twentieth century with stones used in its original construction. Take a look inside and feast your eyes on the bright Roman Catholic interior, where colourful stained glass casts light down on the airy, cream-coloured pillars and whitewashed vaulted ceiling.
Museum of Modern Art
If the cathedral is an example of Castellón’s enduring history then the weird, beautiful Espai d'Art Contemporani represents the city’s love of the creative and the cutting-edge. You can’t miss the museum’s hulking, disjointed exterior, and once inside you can expect to see a rich collection of the strange and the thought-provoking. The museum also hosts a great selection of activities, like theatrical performances and local cultural and historical initiatives.
Castellón public spaces
Castellón’s public spaces brim with fine art and architecture, from the splendid and the classical to the downright strange, making even a stroll across the town seem like a walk through a gallery. The city park is a stunning creation, complete with a colourful gazebo and a gorgeous pond surrounded by classical balustrades – why not while away a few minutes on one of the park’s beautiful tiled benches? A trip into the city centre might bring you to the multi-coloured strangeness of the ‘hand tree’ and its two accompanying monsters, keeping watch over a fountain and its shallow pool.
Castellón lacks much of the industry of other cities in Spain, and much of the city’s modest shops and boutiques reflect this in the items on their shelves. You’re unlikely to find much in the way of mass-produced souvenirs here; think more along the lines of handmade crafts, cast iron, glassware and particularly Catholic imagery. If it’s fresh produce you’re looking for, keep an eye out for the delicious locally-produced oranges too.
There’s a huge choice of places to eat in Castellón, whether you’re looking for a traditional meal in a charming, old-Valencia setting or haute cuisine in ultra-modern settings. Wherever you choose to dine, there’s a very good chance that your restaurant is family-run, complete with all the warmth of service that goes with it. Dine on steak or the local lobster, shrimp and shellfish; washed down of course with a good glass of Spanish wine.
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