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Costa del Azahar: the orange blossom coast

The Costa del Azahar is the coastal region of the province of Castellon de la Plana in the north of the Valencian Community. This stretch of coast extends north of Valencia towards the Ebro delta for about 120 km between the towns of Almenara in the south and Vinaros in the north. Coming from the north the first center along the Azahar coast is Vinaroz (Vinaròs) followed by those of Benicarló and Peñíscola.

UNCONTAMINED COAST

Peñíscola is a beautiful seaside town that has some interesting historic buildings, in particular the Templar castle, built in the 14th century on top of an existing Arab castle. While the walls that surround the old historic center are the work of the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Antonelli who built them between 1576 and 1578. South of Peñíscola there is probably the most beautiful stretch of coast, the one corresponding to the Parque natural de la Sierra de Irta. A nature reserve that rises up to 572 meters from the sea, it is a pristine stretch of rocky coast made of cliffs, coves, small beaches and cliffs on the sea.

CEMENTIFIED COAST

The seaside resorts of Oropesa del Mar and Benicassim present the classic cluster of buildings close to long beaches. In front of the coast are the Columbretes islands, a small archipelago of volcanic islands now protected by a nature reserve (Reserva natural de las Islas Columbretes).

CONTRASTING LANDSCAPES

In the interior, the orange groves become the dominant aspect of the countryside. Behind the two seaside resorts is the so-called Desierto de las Palmas, today protected by a natural park. It is an area of mountains parallel to the coast where dwarf palms (Chamaerops humilis) thrive. The highest point of these mountains is the pico Bartolo which reaches 729 meters. Further south is the city of Castellón de la Plana and the seaside resort of Moncófar with the well-known Playa del Grao. At the end of the Costa de Azahar there is the city of Sagunto with important Roman remains.

The name Costa de Azahar derives from the orange blossom (azahar) which is the main cultivation in the area. This coast is full of contrasts, we find beautiful and developed seaside towns such as Vinaroz, Peñíscola, Oropesa del Mar, Benicarló, Benicassim and Moncofa. There is also a green coastal strip full of citrus groves, which contrast with the wild surroundings of the Sierra de Irta mountains, which flow parallel to the coast. Finally, there are contrasting landscapes such as those of the wetland of Prat Cabanes-Torreblanca, or of the Desierto de las Palmas with its spectacular views of the coast.

Among the villages in the interior, do not miss a visit to the small fortified village of Mascarell, completely surrounded by a wall.

HOW TO GET

To reach the Costa del Azahar the nearest airport is Valencia.

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