Castellon: East at Easter

Posted by in Culture, Travel

Welcome to the Spanish Taichung!

AN IBERIAN ASIA

If Tarragona is Spain’s Belgrade, Castello (or Castellon) caught between Barcelona and provincial capital Valencia is its Taichung with the tram (actually a trolley bus) having its own fancy stops in the central reservation. So the far east meets the east of Iberia.

The (non)tram in question runs from the rather swanky university campus, over the Puente del Riu Sec (bridge), past the state of the art train station all the way down the Ave Del Mar to the port (more so a marina).

In this respect Castello has something in common with Cardiff (the city and the bay area are a mile or so apart, possibly further in Castello’s case). In between is a rather cool little city with the usual bocadillo bars, plenty of cafes and churches.

Granted, Castello is one of those cities that probably won’t be on most people’s radar and like some of the Chinese cities is a slow burner with regards to ‘sights’ or cultural nourishment.

Sculpting the Homelands.

BIG BUBBLES NO TROUBLES

But sights and cultural nourishment there are. The city is mostly known for its ceramics and sculptures, the latter of which range from the giant Tombatossals to La Puntilla (which translates as the lace but to you and I it’s the bull) to Ripolle’s ‘Femella de la Mar’ (Woman of the Sea) outside the Planetarium.

As a musical sidenote, some of these really remind me of Ellis, Beggs and Towards Homelands album cover. Maybe their designers had visited way back in the latter 80s. And now I come to think of it, the mountains aren’t dissimilar to those around the city either. Hmmm.

Culture is here.

A trilogy of Rebeca Plana’s CANVAS paintings.

CULTURE IN A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT

Two cultural centres reside as near neighbours lurking amid the cities backwaters. When I’m in town Rebeca Plana‘s paintings (all called CANVAS) are showing at Les Aules while the Municipal Culture Centre shows paintings by an assortment of artists and hosts speaking events such as the visiting Sikh’s from nearby Valencia.

Churches in Castellon reveal a wealth of art, inside and outside.

If churches and religious art are your thing there’s no shortage to choose from. One of them lies at the far end of the Avenida de la Virgen de Liden. The Basilica is also another starting point for the Camino de Santiago! And even has a 360 degree show on their website!

Well you can’t say they haven’t made an effort to keep up with the times. While the cities own Sagrada Familia pales in comparison to its Barcelona namesake, its interior has some great art like the Mary statue pictured above, especially captivating if you catch it in a certain slant of light.

The library and post office.

While the cities cathedral might be impressive, I’d say the post office takes the crown for architectural splendour. The library on the other hand is rather disappointing. Art Deco with tacky modern windows. It does however have wifi (be pre-warned you can only use one device to connect so it can play havoc with your notes!)

On top of that it’s not the best place to work as there’s a fitness place next door! There are a few co-working spaces but these as you might expect came with a hefty yuppie price tag. Websites for the three I checked were all in Spanish.

Tomorrow’s modern boxes, Castellon is a cool place to live.

MODERN BOXES TO ROO BOXERS

In keeping with things architectural a slew of new houses lie on the cities peripherie. Thom Yorke might call them tomorrow’s modern boxes but one of them would do for me. Castello is hence a good place to live. The only downside is being nowhere near a big airport. Or perhaps that’s a plus? And the summer heat would be pretty brutal.

The boxing Roo, probably outraged at there being no Iva.

For a city of its size there is a ridiculous amount of English language schools and in keeping with the oriental theme, a 24 hour Japan Market. The Aussies don’t go unnoticed either, boxing clever with a giant rooftop roo at Wallaby’s Creek bar.

Staying on an Aussie theme, it’s bad news if you’re an ICEHOUSE fan, there appears to be 0% IVA here, no wonder I can’t find any in the libraries! In fact the only thing I can see are the first two Tears for Fears albums! Again like Tarragona, Castello suffers from an acute lack of major bands swinging through town and also resorts to the covers acts such as Obscure – a Cure tribute.

The Bullring and its matadors!

You can’t be in Spain without seeing the bull ring, which is interesting cause I don’t remember seeing one in Barcelona. Here much like Pamplona, the Plaza de Toros is in the heart of town right beside the Parc Ribalta. Near the El Corte Ingles shopping mall and the old train station (the pink building – now a police station). Personally I think PONCE should be the second one.

An art attack with oranges!

EAST AT EASTER

The action both at the bullring and in Castello generally kicks off at the end of March with the Magdelena and there are some beautiful commemorative posters around town and what better way to remember the orange blossom coast than an exhibit at the Museu (Museum of Fine Arts).

A blitz of colour both on land and in the heavens.

And that’s not all for cultural quirks folks, oh no, there’s plenty more European, even dare I say it British quirkiness happening here, check out those beach huts! The Octopus building and those arresting multi-coloured hands reaching out to grab you!

The final shot by Jose suggests Castello is a star in the making and if you think that’s as far fetched as Nebulous ICI318 look at Shenzhen. Mark my words, Castello(n) is one to watch.

PLAYLIST AND CREDITS

Thanks for reading here. Should anyone be interested in my work; principally writing, photography, and teaching, please contact me for a FREE Overview PDF. Meanwhile, stay tuned with Kulture Kiosk via The Atlas or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world. Playlist and credits follow…

PLAYLIST
Where Did Tomorrow Go? – Ellis, Beggs and Howard
No Promises – Icehouse (80% IVA)
The Caterpillar (Flicker Mix) – The Cure
Lyra – Fripp & Eno
Stargazing – Wang Chung

Photo Credits:
Homelands cover by Storm Thorgerson/Keith Breeden from imgur
Art from Municipal Culture Centre:
Castella. Bladars by Castell Alonso and Auto-retrat (self portrait) by Tormo
Three paintings from CANVAS exhibition by Rebeca Plana
Nebulous ICI318 by Jose Francisco Hernandez (shot from an observatory in Tenerefe).