A Tale of Two Castles


One day we set out on a drive
And headed south, towards blue skies.
Atop a hill we spied a castle
Thanks to the car, we arrived without hassle.

X├átiva is the fortress’ name
Where Romans stood and laid their claim.
With gardens green and pools of blue
It was a special place. That much we knew.

On to Sagunto! David cried
As we headed north, close to the tide.
Again we climbed up rather high
My legs grew weary, I cannot lie.

Yet once again it was worth the struggle,
Though this castle was little more than rubble.
But the views from the top were a sight to behold
Green hills, blue seas and sands of gold.


Spain is full of castles. Thousands of them, in varying degrees of ruin, are scattered around the country and, while the city of Valencia itself doesn’t have one, there are quite a few within day-tripping distance. Today I’m writing about two of them - Castell de X├átiva and Castillo de Sagunto.

Xàtiva

We stopped at this castle on our way back from visiting my uncle in Torrevieja. It’s about an hour’s drive from Valencia centre and well worth a visit if you have the time. It’s location atop a jagged hill makes for a very striking sight as you approach from below, and once you’re up there you can see for miles.

Apparently this castle is located in a very strategic position, on an ancient road leading from Rome, across the Pyrenees, and down the Mediterranean coast to Cádiz.

The castle grounds are long and narrow, stretching across two peaks of the hill. This means there’s quite a bit of climbing involved in the visit, but the gardens, water features and well-preserved fortifications are worth a bit of effort.






When you've gotta go, you've gotta go!



Sagunto

Closer to the coast than X├átiva, this castle offers something different in terms of views. Also set on a hilltop, this fortress dates back thousands of years, to when the town had a rather amusing name – Arse!

I must admit that, while it is conveniently located just half an hour from Valencia, this castle isn’t quite as worth visiting as X├átiva. It’s much more of a ruin and there is little in the way of plaques or information about where you are and what you’re looking at.

Still, we had the place to ourselves when we visited, which was a welcome bit of peace after the manic morning we'd had at Tomatina (blog post coming soon!) and we very much enjoyed the views and sea breeze.