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Check this Borgia Route and take note of the historical sites you should definitely include on your Spanish Bucket List. Who´s never heard of Borgia?! – The noble family descended from Valencia. Two Popes of the Vatican had the surname Borgia, along with many other church and political leaders. Since my last visit to Jativa and Gandia, I´ve put together a list of places related to the scandalous family in their home region of Valencia Community.

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Historical Valencia

If you are planning to visit Valencia city and want to experience the history of the region along with some places off the beaten track – this post is for you. There is so much information out there on the city of Valencia and itself and yet little attention is given to the rest of the province. How about a few day trips from Valencia? – Believe me, there are more hidden gems in the Valencia region than you could ever imagine. Let´s start with the Borgia Route and explore some absolutely amazing historical sites off the beaten path.

The Borgia: Who were they?

Who´s never heard of Borgia (Borja in Spanish)?! Or in case you haven´t seen The Borgias historical-fiction drama with Jeremy Irons let me share some details.

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Borgia was a noble family descending from Valencia and ruling the Catholic heart of Europe. They were always quite wealthy, but international fame came to Borgia when they established roots in Italy and became crucial in the Vatican´s political life (between the 1400s and 1500s). History relates Borgia with numerous crimes and murders, all because of their grasp of power. The House of Borgia produced two popes of Rome (Alfons de Borja, who ruled as Pope Callixtus III during 1455–1458, and Rodrigo Lanzol Borgia, as Pope Alexander VI, during 1492–1503) as well as many other political and church leaders.

The Borgia Route in the Valencia Region

1. The city of Valencia

The Saint Mary's Cathedral - Valencia

The Saint Mary’s Cathedral

One way or another, Valencia should be the first stop on your Borgia Route. However, it was the last “Spanish” stop of the Borgia family on their way to Italy, before they turned into one of the most powerful families of the XV century. Here you should check the building of Cortes Valencianas (the former palace of the Borgia)and of course, the Saint Mary’s Cathedral or Valencia Cathedral. Its Renaissance frescos, painted by the Italian artists Francisco Pagano and Pablo de San Leocadio were ordered by Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI) himself.

2. Jativa

The Jativa Castle near Valencia, Spain
The Jativa Castle

The Jativa Castle

Jativa is a small rural town with no more than 30.000 inhabitants and only 60 km from Valencia. It´s a perfect day-trip idea when exploring the Valencia region in search of the Borgia route: I still wonder why it took me so long to finally visit this place. Aside from the city center of Jativa and the home (birthplace) of Pope Alexander VI, you should definitely check the Jativa castle. Together with Morella and Peñiscola, – the Jativa Castle is making its way to my list of Must-See Castles in Spain.

Within the castle, you could find a small exposition dedicated to Borgia. Read more

3. Gandia

The Ducal Palace of Gandia, Valencia, Spain

The Ducal Palace of Gandia

The Ducal Palace of Gandia is another must-stop on the Borgia Route. This place was the residence of the Borgia family since 1485 and the birthplace of Saint Francis Borgia ( a great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI).

The Palace itself is a must-stop for art lovers – no wonder it is considered to be an important part of the Valencian architectural heritage. Situated in the heart of Gandia with its origins going back to the 14th century, the palace takes us back in time to the years of prosperity for the Borja family. The Ducal Palace of Gandia is full of luxury decorations and significant artistic and architectural elements.

Also read: The Best Day Trips From Valencia, Spain

The modern range of artistic styles includes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-gothic elements. It could be explained by the fact that the palace was built, enlarged, and restored during the last seven centuries. Read more

4. Simat de la Valldigna

Simat de la Valldigna, Valencia

The Monastery of Simat De La Valldigna

And now let´s head to Valencia off the beaten track – The Monastery of Simat De La Valldigna.

It´s a secret destination on the Borgia route, since even Google was unsure about the exact location and took us towards the local fields of oranges [lol].

Apparently, this place went through a significant deterioration since its foundation in 1298. However, the restoration works started only after its acquisition by Generalitat Valenciana (The Government of Valencian Community) back in 1991. Even though it´s already been a while since then – The Monastery of Simat De La Valldigna is still work in process. Nevertheless, you could currently visit its church and gardens.

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This place is an essential part of your Borgia Route because here Rodrigo De Borja (future Pope Alexander VI) was an Abbot once. And the building of the Capitular Hall (Spanish La Sala Capitular) which started during his presence at the Monastery, was finished later when his son Cesar became an Abbot at The Monastery of Simat following the steps of his father.

Even though you clearly see there is a lot of work to be done at The Monastery of Simat in order to return it back to its original state (or at least close to it), there is something majestic about this place… Especially cause you might be the only person walking through its halls and historical ruins. Or maybe the spirit of the almighty Borgia is still there?!

Simat de la Valldigna, Valencia
Simat de la Valldigna, Valencia

5. Canals

The Borgia Tower

Canals was the birthplace of another Borgia Pope – Callixtus III. The site you shouldn´t miss here is the Tower of Canals, which was once a part of the Borgia palace. Restored back in 1995, the tower consists of several heights and basements. In front of it, you could find  Ermita de la Santa Cruz (or The Borja Chapel).

As to travel planning: you can not visit all of the Borgia sites in one day. Jativa and Gandia are both worth a day trip. Simat de la Vallbona could be visited on the way to Gandia, and Canals – on the way to Xativa. Nevertheless, I suggest you combine your visit to Canals with Anna, where you could find a beautiful lake, called Albufera de Anna, and Valencia´s little Alhambra – the Castle Palace of the Counts of Cervello.

The Borgia Tower, Valencia
The Borgia Sites in Valencia, Spain - Pinterest

For more local tips and ideas about Valencia and Spain check my Pinterest boards Travel to Spain and The Best of Valencia.

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