Former Paddy fields melt into a hue of different colours and start to merge into sandy beaches where the Mediterranean says a friendly hello to you! You may not have heard of Nules before, but I suggest that if you are the type of person who hasn’t become addicted to Puerto Banus, then read on. So what’s interesting about Nules? It’s a buzzing town, with a decent coastline and lovely scenery, that is a short distance away from the fabulous city of Valencia, and is located around 20 minutes drive from the Castellon Airport (due to open end 2014/beginning 2015).
From Roman ruins to Spain’s most popular Clementines, from the Valencian region’s only walled city to kilometres of lovely Mediterranean beaches – there’s no doubt that the town of Nules and its surrounding area has plenty to discover and enjoy, for those who wish to immerse themselves in a still, authentic part of Spain.
Home to Spain’s most popular Clementine variety, named after the town, Nules is a Mediterranean coastal town in the province of Castellón. It’s a good sized town, with around 13,750 inhabitants and it’s located quite close to the capital of the province, Castellon de la Plana – 18km – and around 55km from the impressive capital of the region, Valencia. If you want to consider visiting either of these, just check out the information we have on the Castellon de la Plana Travel Guide or the Valencia Travel Guide.
Local industry is a combination of agricultural, industrial and commercial – but depending on what time of year you come as a visitor, you should get the full impact of the town’s involvement in oranges. Depending on the crop and how the oranges have been farmed, harvest normally falls from January onwards. So if you were coming for a winter break, you would have the very special sight, of endless orange groves lighting on the landscape with their vibrant orange fruit and green leaves. However even out of harvest time the vastness and beauty of the orange groves is utterly charming.
Nules, in a way like its bigger sister Castellon, may be deceptive to the first time visitor’s eye as there is a certain amount of industry in the area, which may not give the most romantic of welcomes, to foreigners searching for a seductive piece of Spain. However my advice in this area, is to be patient, and do your best to put both the industrial parts to one side, and depending on your taste, the likes of the built up parts of Oropesa del Mar, also to one side. Travel past these into Nules, the town itself and its wonderful costal area – and you’ll be rewarded. The town has a variety of interesting sites, an authentic feel, and the coastal area has a lovely palette of colours, because of the combination of landscapes – sand, sea and former paddy fields. And a hop, skip and a jump away – well pretty close by – are some beautiful mountains and natural parks.
Although no documentation turns up about Nules until 1178, it is like a number of towns in the area of Castellón, and also further afield, in so far as a variety of civilizations lived there, long before it was documented. We know this because traces of both Iberian and Roman civilizations have been discovered in the area.
The Arabs surrendered to King James I (Jaime I of Aragon) in 1238. It was then that the towns of both Nules and Moncofar were established under the authority of King James I. Water was brought into the area from the River Mijares, which meant that vast areas were transformed into lands which could grow crops, and their fertile soil. Of course this then lead to large numbers of settlers coming to the area.
Gilabert de Centelles y Montcada, the man who was considered to be the founder of Nules, held considerable influence in court, and this meant he was able to get rights for the area for water, and also to set up a market. Additionally he managed to get a pier plus a yearly fair, which went on for two weeks each year.
During the invasion of the Castilians, the area of Castellon La Plana found itself in great danger, because of this Pere el Ceremoniós authorised the fortification of Nules. Later around the middle of the 16th century, the town council as well is the councils of other towns such as Monofar and Mascarell, and all of those that fell under the Barony of Nules, took action successfully against the masters – the Lords and Counts of the area, and gained Royal jurisdiction. This meant that in 1582 Nules became a Royal town.
However once the Moors were expelled, the town of Nules lost around one third of its inhabitants, which meant that the tax burden became too much, which became a handy excuse for its former Masters to return it back to the Barony.
At the time of the War of Succession the town remained loyal to Philip V, in fact it was one of a handful of places in the Kingdom of Valencia that did so. Later during the War of Independence it was attacked by General Suchet’s troops, and in 1938 it was completely bombarded by General Franco, because of its strategic position in its area. On 7th September 2004 a severe thunderstorm hit the area leaving the city and many of the sea villages flooded.
Things To Do
Villa Romana de Benicató – Roman Town of Benicato
Nules has preserved its fair share of Iberian and Roman civilisations. However Benicató is considered to be the most noteworthy Roman civilisation. If this is a subject of special interest for you, then you’ll be happy to know that nevertheless there are a number of other Roman remains to be seen locally. For example you can see both Roman and Iberian remains in the Castell de Nules, and Roman remains are at the existing Villavieja Font Calda, plus on the pile in Santa Barbara, and other sites in the area.
The Roman site of Benicató was a crucial Roman rural civilisation, which served the purpose of being both the dwellers’ farming area and their home. It is located on the borders of the city, in between the lovely orange groves. It was occupied in between the 1st century BC to the 4th century A.D. It enjoyed a period of duration of splendour in the 2nd century A.D.
It was found on 23rd December 1955 because of agricultural work in the location. The town council expropriated the land, so that in 1956 they could start excavating the ground. They worked around 2500 m2 of it, and then it was inexplicably deserted for almost 20 years. In 1973 however the work resumed, then it was moved to the town Benicato Nules, which is currently accountable for its conservation. The location found artifacts which show residences, set around a main courtyard colonnaded square, 24 feet square. In the north westerly part, it seems that this is where the servants were housed.
Villa Amurallada Mascarell – Mascarell Walled Town
Mascarell is the only community throughout the Valencian region which has a walled town. You’ll find it just over half a mile from the town of Nules itself, and it is a Place of Cultural Interest (BIC). Today there’s around 200 people living there, but at the time when it was owned by the Marquesado and Barony of Nules, it becamse an annex of Nules, sometime in the latter part of the 19th century.
The first document dates from 1310, and the origin of the town is connected to the time when the Moors were expelled from the neighbouring town of Burriana, when the settled on the border of Nules and Mascarell. One of the highlights building town, which we can trace to around the end of the 18th century, and although it may not be a huge building, it has pleasant proportions. Also of note is the parish church, which dates to the 17th century and there are some nice engravings.
The extensive coastline of Nules is about 5 km in length, and there’s a huge increase in those visiting the coast during the summer – it goes from around 650 residents, who live by the beach during the winter season, to visitors of 15,000 during the height of the summer season. Even though that might seem like a large number, because of the size of the beaches of Nules, they do end up being both sustainable and uncrowded, in comparison to others in Spain at the same time of the year. Apart from lolling around on the sand, you can also go to the Lake of Nules, which is a freshwater lake inhabited by numerous varieties of birds and fish.
The four beaches of Nules are located around 4 km from the city itself, and many people go back every year, because they are especially pleasant. During July, there’s a special cultural program going on, which means there’s cultural, musical and recreational activities happening on the beaches.
August is dedicated to the various festivals, such as’ San Roque “, which take place around the 15th of the month. There’s a traditional market, musical performances, sports competitions and lots more going on.
Iglesia Arciprestal de San Bartolome y San Jaime – Archiprestal Church of Saint Barthomolew and Saint James
Most likely the original temple of Nules dates back to the second half of the 13th century, and by the early 15th century, a new church was being built, whose remains were later moved to the crypt of the lords of Nules, which till then had actually been stashed in the chapel of the castle. In 1482 a new altarpiece dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, was commissioned by Seraphim of Centelles and the work was carried out by Rodrigo de Osona.
It wasn’t until 1667 that the redevelopment work started on the temple, carried out under Josep Joan Ibañez, and it actually changed the orientation of the temple. This meant that were once the altar had been, now there was a new main entrance. This construction phase lasted for a number of centuries, and included the Baroque altar, full of gilded wood carvings, which was finished in 1733. In the latter part of the 19th century to new altarpieces were built, and in the early 20th century the interior stucco was renovated, and the temple got a new marble floor.
Unhappily, as was the situation in many towns and villages, the efforts of so many generations were cut short and 7th July 1938, when the Republican troops turned the temple into a pile of rubble. However after the Civil War the project to build a new church on the same site started, with the first stone being laid in 1944. However work was slow, not helped by a lack of funding, but over the years the church has been decorated, urged by faithful parishioners. Today you will find the church is in harmony with its surroundings, in neoclassical style, with the graceful dome covered with glazed tiles.
Iglesia de la Sangre, Museo de Historia de Nules – Church of the Blood, History Museum of Nules
This is definitely a unique church within this region, because of the quality and size of some of its architectural aspects. It also shows that Gothic architecture survived well into the 16th century in the area of Castellon de La Plana. It was the headquarters of the fraternity the bore the name – Sangre. At one stage was also the meeting place of the town council. When the Chapel of solitude was built, it wasn’t demolished as may have happened under some circumstances, but instead adjoining land was bought, so that today you can see a setting of great artistic and historical value. Its role did become secondary once the image of the Virgin of Solitude was transferred to the new chapel, in 1769.
There’s a trapezoidal that measures 11 metres by 21 metres, and a single nave which is defined in five different sectors, all of which are separated by pointy, transverse arches. Inside there are eight chapels between the buttresses, and a background choir. It has gone through its fair share of degradation, having played the role of the school, a stable, troops sleeping quarters and a garage.
After the Civil War up until 1985, it was pretty much abandoned however funding was granted in 1985 to restore the building and it was adapted into the Nules History Museum that you can see today. Now it’s the place to go to see ethnological, artistic and archaeological exhibits, including a wealth of items of great interest.
Museu d’Història de Nules – Nules History Museum
Capilla de la Soledad – Chapel of Solitude
Calle José Bartrina
This is a wonderful example of Rococo architecture in the region of Valencia, which was constructed from 1757 to 1769, under Antonio Gilabert’s guidance. The venerated image of the virgin is in the central shrine, and this was brought to Nules in 1588 by Philip II. Unfortunately like so many other important buildings, it suffered damage during the Civil War, and that means that the original altar was destroyed at that time, and today’s altarpiece is not that significant from an artistic perspective.
More importantly the overall proportions are slender and measured beautifully, and inside you can admire for important allegorical reliefs which depict some of the most important scenes from the Catholic religion.
Iglesia de la Sagrada Familia – Church of the Sacred Family (old Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites)
Where Avenida Mijares Meets Calle Santa Teresa
A fine example of Barefoot Carmelite architecture, this convent is also known as the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites. Construction took place during the 17th and 18th centuries with the first stone being laid during 1675. It was built in neoclassical style, according to the plans of Fray José de la Concepción.
Between 1675 and 1710, facade was constructed, but in 1835 it was looted and abandoned. However in 1943 it was restored again, but only a few decades later in 1976 it was demolished because of speculation, and funding had run short.
That means that today you can see the church only, not the convent. It has been declared a Monument of Cultural Interest, and it is a fine example of that Brown architecture Spain stop notice the noble facades and it’s hard
Iglesia de la Inmaculada (Nules) – Church of the Immaculate Conception
Where Avenida Constitución Meets Calle del Mar
Building began in 1718, the idea was the plans would be very similar to the other Carmelite convent town. With this carried out slowly, and there are indications that this and the other Carmelite convent were executed by the same craftsmen and master builders.
Capilla de San Blas – San Blas Chapel
Calle San Blas
Its origins go back to the very early days of the city, when Gilaberto Centelles set up a chaplaincy in 1365, as his will.
Ermita de Sant Miguel “El Fort” – Hermitage of St. Michael – “The Fort”
Calle Cueva Santa, Nules 12520
In 1459 option of this Chapel was given the go-ahead and it was dedicated to St Michael. Constructed by Antoni Gilabert, it’s a neoclassicism precedent in the area of Valencia. However it was only open for worship 50 years, and during the War of Independence was occupied by soldiers, it was transformed into barracks for the French soldiers – hence the nickname-” the Fort.” Later it was neglected for many years until during the 1990s was decided to make at the home of Museum of Medallística Enrique Giner. It’s a classy heptagon of 4 m per side.
Ermita de San Joaquin – Saint Joaquin’s Hermitage
Around 1706 this hermitage was built thanks to the donations if the devotees of the area, but the old shrine gave way to the passage of time, and corrosion and the war of independence meant that a new one rebuilt the same spot, in 1926.
Jardin Botanico Nules – Botanical Gardens
Avenida Castellón, 12520 Nules
The Botanical Gardens at Nules came into existence because the man used to be a director the Valencia University Botanical Gardens, Francisco Beltran Bigorre, came from Nules, and it was through his collaboration with the University that Nules has the Botanical Gardens it has today. It runs from the train station down onto the National road.
Camino Cabezol at Nules’s beach, 12520 Nules
In 2004 this was declared a nature sanctuary, and it is really delightful landscape, with an area of 2.7 hectares. Rice used to be grown here in great quantities.