Located on a beautiful, imposing mountain above the town of Xàtiva, 34 miles south of Valencia, Xàtiva Castle predates Roman times. The strategically positioned twin fortress, has been the scene and spectator of a host of battles over many years. Gradually expanded and fortified by the successive cultures that have inhabited these lands, the castle is divided into the Castell Menor, which sits upon Roman remains, and the Castell Major.
To the excitement of my children, the castle featured in Hannibal’s campaigns, specifically where he made his preparations for the siege of the Roman city of Saguntum, which took place in 219 BC. Legend has it that one of his sons was born in the Castell Menor in 218 BC. There is a gate named after Hannibal, which is said to be where he entered the fortress, although the original gate no longer exists. The gate that is there today dates from the 15th century.
Despite its Iberian and Roman roots, most of the castle walls and towers preserved today are of Islamic or Gothic origin. Its imposing architecture renders the castle one of the city’s finest gems, and it has been declared a Cultural Heritage Site. No visit to Xàtiva is complete without a trip around this incredible fortress, with breathtaking views across the city and its surroundings.
Read on to join us on our family trip to Xativa Castle.
You can either choose to walk, drive or catch a lift in the land train to Xativa Castle. We choose the former, a decision we later regretted as it was a very warm day and the walk long and steep! However, the excursion was worth it. On reaching the entrance to the castle walls we were greeted by the most extraordinary views. I had organised for us to enjoy a casual walking tour of the castle with a knowledgeable, bi -lingual guide from LoveXativa Tours. Being a home educating family, I felt the extra information available from a guide would enrich the history lesson.
The guided tour lasted around 1.5 hours and was fantastic. We learnt so much about the local area and the kids found the guide’s historical recounts fascinating. Our guide was fun, friendly and very knowledgeable. She was very happy to answer the kids endless questions!
There are conveniently located toilets, a charming coffee shop and a large picnic area. It’s worth mentioning here that we visited Xativa Castle a second time with my elderly Mum. As with many historical ruins, access isn’t always good, and at Xativa Castle some of the paths are steep, uneven and arduous. That said, my Mum loved her visit, she took a walking stick and we took our time.
We have visited many castles throughout Europe, and Xativa Castle is definitely one of our favourites. With the astonishing views and the extraordinary history it offers, Xativa Castle is a must for anyone visiting Valencia who is looking for a step back in time.