Historical Xativa Castle at sunset in the Valencia region of Spain.

© Vitaly Titov/Shutterstock

Castillo de Xàtiva

Top choice in Valencia Province

Xàtiva’s castle, which clasps to the summit of a double-peaked hill overlooking the old town, is arguably the most evocative and interesting in the Valencia region. Behind its crumbling battlements you’ll find flower gardens (bring a picnic), tumbledown turrets, towers and other buildings (some used in the 20th century and hence much changed), such as dungeons and a pretty Gothic chapel. The walk up to the castle is a long one, but the views are sensational.

If you think it's big today, imagine what it must have looked like 300 years ago at full size. Sadly, it was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1748 and never really recovered.

Before the current incarnation, the castle hill was always a fortified vantage point thanks to its crucial strategic position, and was important in the wars between Rome and Carthage, as well as in the Roman strife of the 1st century BC.

On the way up, the 18th-century Ermita de Sant Josep is on your left, and to the right is the lovely Romanesque Iglesia de Sant Feliu (1269), Xàtiva’s oldest church. You’ll also pass by the very battered remains of part of the old Muslim town. A tourist train zips up the hill a couple of times a day from the tourist office (€4.20).

Various signposted walks cover the castle hill and environs.

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