Over the past few years, Benicarló has made a great effort to update the city’s sport facilities, in an aim to respond to the requirements of numerous sporting organisations, which follow an intensely busy timetable all year round.
The city has three magnificent grass football pitches, as well as a leisure centre with installations for basketball, handball, indoor football, and an outdoor structure for practising mountain climbing.
The modern indoor swimming pool was opened in 1999, making it possible to swim all year round, in addition to holding beginner courses for children, therapeutic rehabilitation classes, etc. And also has a ery equiped gym, stem room and sauna.
Next to the swimming pool is the athletics track, and this has been a qualitative leap in this sport for the entire region.
A variety of private clubs complete the range of sport facilities in this city, and so at the Benicarló Tennis Club it is possible to play tennis, squash, paddle tennis and swim.
Diving, fishing and water sports in general, are becoming more and more popular in Benicarló, due to our magnificent coast. The Sailing School, which is held in summer, enables the young to come into close contact with the fascinating sea world in the hands of expert monitors. We must also single out skin-diving in an exceptional location such as the seabed of the Columbretes Isles (a nature reserve).
Elite sports such as golf, can also be played in nearby sport installations. In this way, the most demanding players or those playing this sport for the first time can enjoy, at hardly 20 minutes away, an intense day of golf at the magnificent «Panorámica» golf course, in the town of Sant Jordi, which was designed by the German golfer Bernhard Langer.
Finally, the new Benicarló Marina, with its wide range of modern sport and leisure facilities (290 moorings), hopes to become one of the most important centres in the province of Castellón for water sports and leisure activities all year round.
Panorámica Golf & Country Club
The spectacular Panorámica Golf & Country Club is the only golf course in Spain designed by Bernhard Langer. This 18-hole course, nestled among beautiful Mediterranean countryside, offers a peaceful setting for a game of golf and a superb climate for a well-deserved rest.
Panorámica Golf is a magnificent course with wonderful fairways and a spectacular landscape, making it one of Europe’s leading courses. It is a challenge for both new and experienced players, offering you the chance to use all the clubs in your bag. The course is gently rolling but relatively flat, so as not to be tiring, and the fabulous all year round weather here makes this a haven for golf lovers. There are two 350-metre practice courses, as well as pitch & putt areas and three par 3 holes, considered the best in Europe.
Festivals, fire and… «Bous a la mar»
Like many Valencian towns, Benicarló celebrates the eve and feast day of St. Anthony on 16 and 17 January. It is an ancient festival of pagan origin, which is linked to the rural world, and has fire as its constant feature. In Benicarló, the main features of the festival are the traditional burning of the devil on a huge bonfire, horse processions, playlets, giving out «coquetes», and blessing pets.
The Benicarló Artichoke Festival is also held in January. This is the only product in the province of Castellón to have Denomination of Origin. Conferences, technical days, «torrada» (the roasting of artichokes) and food tasting, are the main acts of a festival that honours the efforts of the farming community in Benicarló.
Fallas (St. Joseph’s Day, 19 March). A uniquely intense and explosive festival, during one week the Fallas festival is an unforgettable spectacle of fire, light and colour, concluding with the «crema» (burning) and destruction of the «fallas» that have been constructed after a year of work and dreams. The main features of this festival are the «mascletaes», firework displays, «correfocs», and the party atmosphere of the «casals» of the different «fallas», which carries on until the early hours of the morning.
Holy Week. The traditional religious fervour of this region is clearly evident in this festival. We can single out the processions of lay brotherhoods in long hooded gowns, with their religious floats and sculptures, as they walk through the streets accompanied by the rhythmic and haunting sound of the drums.
St. Gregory’s Day (9 May). This is a traditional popular pilgrimage that concludes with an open-air celebration of a barbecue and «paella». It is also traditional to visit the street market, which is set up around the hermitage, selling typical produce.
The eve and feast day of St. John (23-24 June). In Benicarló, celebrations for the night of «St. John», which is also deeply rooted in this region, are held on Morrongo Beach. The main features of the festival are barbecues, firework displays and swimming in the sea, and the festival is made to coincide with the «Sports Festival», when the best sportsperson of the year is proclaimed.
St. Bartholomew (St. Senén, St. Abdón and St. Mary of the Sea). These are the city’s patron saints, whose feast days are celebrated during the second fortnight of August. The origin celebrations date back to 1523, when Emperor Charles I awarded Benicarló «…the privilege of a fair for Saint Bartholomew», in addition to awarding it the title of Town.
The celebrations held in honour of its patron saints fill Benicarló with light and colourand a large proportion of the population takes part. The constant activity and variety of acts make the celebrations attractive for people of all ages.
The celebrations begin with the «Cridá», which includes concerts, exhibitions, painting events, firework displays, «mascletaes», and the typical «Bous a la Mar» (bulls on the sea shore), where the sea acts as a refreshing refuge from the bull, although sometimes it is not enough as the bull also ends up plunging into the water.
The nightlife takes on another dimension as the usual range of entertainment is extended to include the noisy «casals» (premises) of the «penyas», or groups of friends who meet to celebrate the festival more intensely.
The party… has just begun.
The reservoir is set in a natural area of great beauty, which is ideal for hill walking, and from where it is possible to observe the large colony of wild goats and Griffon vultures living there.
Cave paintings in the «Polvorí» cave, next to the reservoir’s dam.
Monastery of St. Mary in Benifassà, Cistercian (XIII century). In the surrounding area, almost uninhabited Medieval settlements (such as Fredes, el Boixar and Bellestar) can be found.
Traiguera (at 24 km)
Famous for its pottery workshops. Other places of interest include the Hermitage of the Virgin of «La Font de la Salut» (XVI century), which Phillip II ordered to be built (Renaissance portico), the Gothic-Renaissance parish church (XV-XVI centuries) with its XV century slender bell tower, and the parish museum.
Sant Mateu (at 26 km)
The ancient capital city of the «Maestrat» considered to be of historical-monumental interest.
Archpriest temple with a great Romanesque doorway (XIII century); Gothic town hall (XVI century), Borrull Palace (Gothic); Palace of the Marquises of Villores, Renaissance (XVI century), plateresque façade and majestic courtyard; Dovecote Tower, stronghold-tower 4 Km from the centre (XVI century); Archpriest Museums of History and Palaeontology.
Tírig/Barranco de la Valltorta (at 37 km)
Not far from Tírig, the Museum of Valltorta can be found in the ravine that bears the same name. There is a graphical exhibition of reproductions of cave paintings, in addition to free, guided visits to the caves. These caves have been declared Heritage of Humanity.
Catí, Ares del Maestrat, Vilafranca and Benassal
Catí (at 52 km). The essence of the Medieval age still remains in the old quarters of this town: House/Town hall, an example of civil Gothic architecture (1427); Gothic parish church (XV century) with a Romanesque doorway (XIII century) and its outstanding Jacomart altarpiece (XV century); Hermitage of Our Lady of Avellà; (XVII century), with a spring of high-quality water. Excellent nougat, marzipan and handmade soft cheeses are also available.
Ares del Maestrat (at 80 km). This ancient settlement situated 1,200 m high, is very picturesque. Places of interest include: Gothic town hall, Neoclassical parish church, remains of the Mola castle, and cave paintings (Remígia cave).
Vilafranca (at 90 km). Places of interest include: Gothic town hall (XIV century); altarpiece on panels (1455) by Valentín Montoliu; Renaissance parish church (1567-1572), with an altarpiece of St. Michael (1470) by Bernardo Sierra; Hermitage of Our Lady of Llosar, with its Baroque architecture (XVIII century); Hermitage of Pobla de Bellestar; Gothic bridge.
Benassal (at 75 km). The «Font d’en Segures» spa is famous for the high quality of its waters. Other places of interest are the parish church (XVIII century) and noblemen’s houses. The hams and sausages are typical here.
Morella and Forcall
Morella (at 75 Km). This Medieval city par excellence is the inland reference point as Peníscola is on the coast. It is the capital city of the region of «Els Ports», and is of great historical-artistic interest. The castle, city walls, access gates and towers form the boundary of one of the best-kept Medieval centres. The Basilica of St. Mary the Adult (Valencian Gothic); Gothic church and cloisters of the Convent of St. Francis; Gothic town hall (XIV and XV centuries); Gothic aqueduct. Textile crafts (wool blankets and clothes) are also available.
Forcall (at 82 Km). This is a nineteenth-century town, with a marvellous partially fortified square (XVI century). Other places of great historical-artistic value are the palaces and ancestral homes.
Ebro delta (40 km)
The nature reserve of the Ebro delta enables us to learn more about an ecosystem of great beauty that is exceptionally rich in flora and fauna.
Nature can be observed from the routes and viewpoints of the nature reserve, and there are also thematic museums and boat trips on the river Ebro. The cuisine of this area, which is based on rice and fish dishes, is extremely good.
Caverns of St. Joseph
Vall d’Uixó (at 100 km). The caverns of St. Joseph can be found in the Espadà mountain range. Visits last approximately 40 minutes, 2 km being covered by boat and 255 m on foot. Inside the caverns are examples of the most spectacular whims of nature that have been created by water and the passing of time.
The greatest treasure of these volcanic isles can be found on their seabed. Protected as a natural reserve, these isles maintain a restricted visiting system, as they can only be visited during the summer on trips organised by authorised boats.