Castellón de la Plana or Castelló de la Plana is the capital city of the province of Castelló, in the Valencian Community, Spain, in the east of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Costa del Azahar by the Mediterranean Sea. The mountain range known as Desert de les Palmes rises inland north of the town.
The first known building in the area was the Moorish castle of Fadrell, near the Alqueries de La Plana. The town proper was officially founded in 1251, after the conquest of the Moorish Kingdom of Valencia by King James I of Aragon in 1233. James granted royal permission to move the town from the mountain to the plain on September 8, 1251, and tradition claims that the move was completed by the third Sunday of Lent, 1252
During the Middle Ages, the city was protected by moats, wallsand towers, and a church was built, later becoming a cathedral. In the 17th century the town was one of the last strongholds in the Revolta de les Germanies (local guilds). It also supported Archduke Charles of Austria in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), but was later taken by the troops of Philip d’Anjou. In the 19th century, the city walls were torn down and it slowly began to expand, a process interrupted by the War of Independence against Napoleon (1804–14) and the Carlist Wars (1833–63). In 1833 Castelló became the capital of the newly constituted province. In the second half of the 19th century, the city again began to expand, marked by the arrival of the railway, the enlargement of the port and the construction of representative buildings (Provincial Hospital, Casino, Theater) and parks. In 1991 a university (Jaume I University) was established, set upon a modern campus. The local economy is based on industry, tourism and craft-work.
Most of the historical buildings are located in the diminutive old town, around the Plaça Major (Main Square). These include:
- The Gothic Concatedral de Santa Maria (co-cathedral of Saint Mary), built in the 13th century and reconstructed one century later after destruction by fire. The present building is another reconstruction after the demolition ordered by the council during the Spanish civil war (1936).
- The Ajuntament (City Hall), erected at the beginning of the 18th century. It features a pretty Tuscan-style façade rising up over a colonnade.
- The standing alone bell-tower of the procathedral, known as El Fadrí (the single man), built in the 15th century.
- The Llotja del Cànem (Hemp Exchange Market), built during the first half of the 17th century to be used by traders in hempen cloth and ropes, a very important activity in the area at the time. Today the building is used by the University for cultural events and temporary exhibitions.
- On the northeast edge of the town, at the end of a broad avenue decorated with orange trees, stands the Basílica of Santa Maria del Lledó (European Hackberry or Celtis australis), a basilica devoted to an image of the Virgin Mary found in 1366 by a farmer when he was ploughing his lands. The original 14th-century chapel was extended to its present Baroque form during the 16th century. The complex is surrounded by a landscaped garden.
- Bishop’s Palace (18th century)
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