After the beach, we explored El Castillo de Peñíscola. The castle and the old part of the city are built on a rock that is joined to the mainland by an isthmus of sand. The castle is where Benedict XIII (Papa Luna, who many Roman Catholics consider an Antipope) lived after the Western Schism. At the beginning of the 14th century, a division of political interests between French and Italian cardinals arose in the Church. This Western Schism lasted for 30 years, during which time there was one Pope established in Rome, and one in Avignon, France. Benedict XIII was the third and last in the succession of the Popes of Avignon. After a time, however, he began to fear for the stability of his political support in France, since there were factions trying to unify the Church again. As he was born of the noble Aragonese family Luna, and held vows of loyalty from the King of Castille, Benedict XIII moved to the castle at Peñíscola and established his papacy here. Finally, after a fruitless effort within the Church to get one of the two Popes to abdicate, an ecclesiastical group formed a conclave in Pisa and elected a third Pope. The Roman Pope gave his support to him and most of the cardinals followed suit, but Benedict XIII never gave in. He maintained that he was the true Pope until his death eight years later in 1423. Pretty interesting stuff!
Anyways, I wish I could spend an entire weekend in Peñíscola. The beach was beautiful, the people were so friendly, and the views from the top of the castle were amazing. It would be the perfect place for a wedding or retirement!
Saturday night (and this morning) I went to my first discoteca. A big group of us went to Las Animas del Puerto. Someone's host brother works there, so we didn't have to pay cover! Then, a few of my friends and I met some professional Valencia soccer players, who are considered celebrities in Spain and treated like royalty. They got us bracelets for the VIP balcony (which usually cost $100 or more) for free! The club is on a rooftop, and we ended up staying to watch the sun come up around 6:00am. We had so much fun!!