Earlier this week, we wrote about the history of Xàtiva — a wonderful little city an hour south of Valencia. Easy to reach by train, Xàtiva makes a great day trip from the capital.
The town sits at the foot of a large hill, literally in the shadow of its castle. During summer months, it’s often the hottest city in Spain, because of its valley location and protection from the cooling maritime breeze. Avoid during August!
We lucked out and arrived on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon… early January, and we were walking about comfortably in T-shirts. After stopping at the tourist information office to collect a city map and information, we explored the streets of the old town. Xàtiva has an elongated layout, due to its being stretched across the bottom of a mountain. The narrow streets and curvy alleyways are fun to explore, and it’s impossible to get lost, as the castle hill is always visible.
A touristic train goes up to the castle, but we decided to be men and hike up. 30 minutes later (whimpering, sweat-soaked), we arrived at the castle gates. The grounds have been well-preserved and, at almost a kilometer in length, the Castillo de Xàtiva is popular with tourists and locals alike. History seeps from every brick, and visitors can wander around practically unobstructed.
Although exhausted from the climb, we bounced around the castle like crack-powered 5 year olds, exploring royal gardens, prisons, the quarters of evil popes and, of course, incredible views of the underlying city and countryside. In stark contrast to the ruins of the castle at Sagunto, Xàtiva’s has been so well preserved and renovated, it’s easy to imagine the life of its inhabitants.
We spent so much time at the castle, that we missed out on the other highlights of Xàtiva such as the collegiate church The Seu (built in 1596) and the Museo Almudín (also 16th Century, originally for the storage and selling of wheat). But no bother… it’s a good wager that we’ll be back.