The seaside town of Cullera (the Valencian word for SPOON!) is located about 25km south of the city of Valencia on the shores of the Mediterranean sea. It’s a great place to stay if you want to visit the natural park of La Albufera, and it’s a great place in its own right for a few days by the seaside. You’ll find a mixture of nature, history and, of course, golden sands which will keep everyone entertained during their stay. There’s even an annual music festival but I fear I’m now too long in the tooth for it!
We decided to stay at the Cullera Holiday Hotel. It was an excellent choice just a short walk from the promenade and right in the geographical centre of what you might consider to be the town. That meant we could stretch our legs along the seafront in either direction. It was about half an hour’s walk southwards into town where we ate and drank in the evenings. Going the other way it would have taken about 45 minutes to walk to the lighthouse but we drove and had a wander around from where we parked. In season (or at weekends out of season) there are plenty of options for refreshments but your choices are slightly limited at other times of the year. We loved the tapas in Meson Aragüés, satisfied our seafood craving at Poseidon, and quenched our thirst at La Taberna and Jamonico’s.
As you look out to see you’ll see the strange shape that looks like a metallic Loch Ness Monster at first glance! It is, in fact, the Penyeta del Moro. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about it, but from what I can gather it was built in 1861, a huge iron beacon serving the maritime industry similar to a lighthouse. There is, naturally, a legend associated with the name too. This is the unfortunate story of the young Muslim Magud, who, having embarked towards forced exile after the conquest of Jaime I, believed that he saw among the waves the ghostly presence of his Christian love interest, Bibiana. He threw himself into the sea, and eventually his body lay lifeless on the emerging rocks in the Bay of Cullera. For this reason the rocks acquired the nickname ‘el Moro’.
Standing high above the town is the impressive castle. Built in the 10th Century, it has been beautifully restored, although some may say a little too much. The zig-zag climb up the hill is well worth it though and the views are unsurprisingly impressive. Much of the information inside is available in English and there is a downloadable audio guide if you want to know more. It is surrounded by a series of stone towers and an alternative route to the top which is rather more demanding would allow you to get a closer view of them. You can also drive up there, and a small lift will take you from the car park to the entrance, although we didn’t see any further assistance available for the less mobile once inside the walls. Alongside the castle is the impressive Santuario de la Virgen del la Castilla.
At the opposite end of the town is the lighthouse. It is a fully functioning lighthouse but, like the majority of them in Spain, visits are not possible. The coastline though, is lovely. It has a rugged feel to it and is a haven for birdlife, although they were noticeably absent on our visit!! Golden sands stretch as far as the eye can see to the North, and there’s even a very cheeky sculpture near the benches on the clifftop walk.
If you are driving from the A38 or E15 motorways, you’ll come into town past the rice fields. It’s well worth making a short stop to see them, no matter what time of year you visit. They were in the process of being flooded at the time of our trip.
At the southern end of town there is a park with a duck pond and a skate park. It also contains another hidden gem. A rickety primitive biplane stands on a plinth paying homage to one of Cullera’s famous sons. Juan Olivert Serra was an early pioneer of aviation. On 5 September 1909 he carried out the first ever motorised flight in Spain. You can read more about his exploits using this translation of an article in Levante.
There are other things to see in Cullera. The Civil War air raid shelters are only open on a Thursday so we timed our trip specifically to have a closer look only to find they were closed because of some water on the floor! The pirate museum in the Dragon’s Cave is only open at weekends so missed out on that too. The Rice Museum is a bit out of town and it would seem to only be open in the early evenings. As you can see, these things require a little planning and forethought!
We really enjoyed our stay in Cullera and would highly recommend it for a few days or for a fully blown holiday. As for the music festival, well we did see the framework of the stage near the river as we tried unsuccessfully to find a footpath running alongside it. The Medusa Beach Music Festival looks amazing, I’m sure you’ll agree.