Another amazing discovery for my Blog Series: Undiscovered Spain – Xativa, Spain. A charming small town with a marvelous castle in the clouds and a touch of the Borgia history. Check all the details about an epic day trip from Valencia to Xativa.
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 I´ve never considered it as a must-stop in the region.
As my research went on, I discovered that Xativa 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.
Where is Xativa?
Xativa, Spain is a small town with no more than 30.000 inhabitants, located only 60 km far from Valencia. While I don´t list it within the hidden gems of the Valencia Region, Xativa might still be relatively unknown for some international visitors.
Keep in mind that if you travel from Valencia by train you need a ticket to Xativa because on the train station the names are always displayed in Valencian. While in Castellano locals call this town Jativa.
What to do in Xativa?
There are quite a few historical sights in Xativa, Spain. You can check the official website to plan your trip better. I suggest you not miss Birthplace of Pope Alexander VI, The Borgias’ Palace (Palau de los Borja), Colegiata Basílica de Santa María, Sant Francesc church. Although if you´re looking for the most dreamy Spanish castles, Xativa castle absolutely can not be missed.
The Xativa 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 Also, there is a tourist train departing from the TouristInfo of Jativa 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.
There are several parkings in the area, 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
Foodies can´t miss a few local dishes, such as arròs al forn (oven-baked rice), arròs caldós (rice stew), arròs en fesols i naps (rice with beans and turnips), arròs blanquet (rice with onion sausage). Paella is also a traditional eat in Xativa, Spain – much like it is in all the Valencia regions.
Xativa Castle has a restaurant inside. Also, there´s a cafe near the Parking Subida al Castillo. Both used to be full – you should book in advance or grab a bite of the typical Spanish schedule (1.30 p.m – 4 p.m.) Or yo might have a delicious meal in the city center of Xativa, Spain.
First impression of Xativa, Spain
Due to its strategical location, through centuries Jativa played an important role in the area. While approaching the city by car, you immediately spot the Xativa Castle. 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.
Insights into the history of Xativa, Spain
The Xativa 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 a few 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.
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.
Xativa 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 the Xativa, Spain 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 town of Xativa, Spain 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?
Top Xativa sites related to Borja you can’t miss (besides the Xativa Castle) :
– Iglesia de Sant Francesc
– Carrer Montcada
– Real Monasterio de Santa Clara
– Fuente de la Trinitat
– Casa natalicia de Alejandro VI
– Iglesia de Sant Pere
– Retablo de casa Artigues
– Colegiata Basílica de Santa María
– El Palau
– Museo de Bellas Artes
- 10 Places in The Province of Valencia You´ve never Heard Of
- Top Valencia Day Trips by train
- Historical Valencia: The Borgia Route in Spain
- Top 10 Places to Visit in The Province of Castellon, Spain
- Art Lovers: The Ducal Palace of Gandia
- Beautiful villages in Spain: Bocairente
- The Largest Palm Grove in Europe: Elche
- All Colors of The Rainbow: Jardin del Papagayo in Benicarlo
- Hikes in Valencia: The route of the hanging bridges of Chulilla
- The Legend of Bride´s Jump in Navajas
- Fanzara: Graffiti everywhere
- The Millenary Olive Trees Route in Canet lo Roig
- Undiscovered Spain: Visiting Morella