Another amazing discovery for my Blog Series: Undiscovered Spain – Jativa, a marvelous castle in the clouds with alluring views and a touch of the Borgia history…
While checking out the lists of the most beautiful villages of Valencian Community (still left on my travel bucket list) I came across Jativa (or Xativa in Valencian). The name sounded familiar, but so far it was always one of those places “on the way to somewhere”, which I never considered as a must stop.
Also read: The Most Beautiful Cathedrals in Spain
As my research went on, I discovered that Jativa was actually much more than I´ve ever thought – a real-life Castle in the Clouds in the heart of the Valencian Community and a birthplace of two Popes from the famous Borja (Borgia) family.
Jativa is a small rural town with no more than 30.000 inhabitants and only 60 km far from Valencia. Together with Morella and Peñiscola, – the Jativa Castle is one of the Top Castle to Visit in Spain.
Due to its strategical location, through centuries Jativa played an important role in the area. Nevertheless, the main site of the city is definitely the Jativa Castle. You immediately spot it once approaching by car and once you´ve climbed your way to the top – these amazing views blow your mind. I couldn´t help the feeling of being in the clouds. It´s not the highest mountain I´ve ever climbed, but probably the plain landscape all around it – which gives you this out of this world feeling.
The Jativa Castle
The Jativa Castle consists of two parts – Castillo Menor and Castillo Mayor – from each one you get a wonderful panorama of another part. Honestly, I expected the castle interiors to be empty. However, in Castillo Mayor I´ve suddenly discovered some interesting expositions dedicated to the life of locals, caste defense and historical figures of the Valencian Community. So it’s now only about the views – you also get some curious insights into the history of the region. That´s even more exciting, right?!
Jativa and The Borgia
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.
Borja was a noble family descending from Valencia and ruling the Catholic heart of Europe. They were always quite wealthy, but international fame came to Borja when they established roots in Italy and became crucial in the Vatican´s political life (between the 1400s and 1500s). The history relates Borja with numerous crimes and murders, all because of their grasp for power. The House of Borja produced two popes of Rome (Alfons de Borja, 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.
Within The Jativa Castle, you could find a small exposition dedicated to Borja. Can you believe it all started here and a person born in the small village of Jativa ended up being the Pope of Vatican?!
Even though the Borja exposition only has several rooms, from the first glimpse of it you could notice everything is decorated so elegantly…
While heading to the top of Castillo Mayor you should stop at the garden (or what´s left from it). No flowers around, but the fountains look nice anyway – don´t they?
A First paper mill in Europe
Another curious fact about the Jativa Castle that has surprised me a lot: in 1150 Europe´s first paper mill was found here, using rice and straw as the raw materials. The first paper was brought to Europe all the way from China across the Middle East. It´s incredible that this small city has played such an important role in the history of papermaking.
Tips for visiting Jativa
- Jativa could be reached from Valencia both by car and train
- The Jativa Castle is open from 10 a.m to 18 p.m for the winter season and from 10 a.m to 19 p.m for the summer season. Entrance price: 2,40 euros
- there are several parkings, one of them right by the entrance to the Castle (it is almost always full). Most people leave cars at the Parking Subida al Castillo and walk 20 min upwards to the castle
- there is a tourist train departing from the TouristInfo of Jativa (Font del Lleó) at 12:30 and 16:30. Once there, you have an hour for a visit (it took me 2h though) Train price:4,20 euros
- The Jativa Castle has a restaurant inside and another cafe near the Parking Subida al Castillo (both used to be full, book in advance or grab a bite of the typical Spanish schedule 1.30 p.m – 4 p.m)
- Check more details about the city and its events from Xativa Tourist Office here
Have you ever heard of Jativa?
Are you familiar with The Borgia history?
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