Xàtiva (Spanish: Játiva) is a city of 29,000 people (2018) in Valencia (province). The town is notable for its large, dramatically-situated fortress as well as its atmospheric, well-preserved city centre.
Xàtiva has been inhabited continuously since Iberian times, and is one of the few Spanish cities which has preserved its pre-Roman name (Iberian: Saiti). During the Roman period the city was known for textiles; later the Moors introduced paper in Europe by establishing a paper manufacturing centre here. Xàtiva was also the hometown of the notorious Borgia (Borja) family and the birthplace of one of its more infamous members, Pope Alexander VI.
- 1 Información Turística (Tourist Information), Albereda Jaume I, 50, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Tu-F 10:00-14:00, Sa Su 10:15-13:30. Has free maps and brochures.
- 1 Estación de Tren de Xàtiva (Xàtiva Train Station), Plaça de la Estación s/n, ☏ (reservations). Long distance trains connect Xàtiva with Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga, and Badajoz. Medium-distance trains connect the city with Valencia, Murcia, Cartagena, Alicante, Albacete, Ciudad Real, Teruel, Zaragoza, and Huesca.
From Valencia, Renfe regional train line C2 departs every ½ hour from Estació de València Nord; a round-trip ticket costs €8.70 and the journey lasts 49 minutes.
- 2 Estación de Autobuses (Bus Station), Avda Cavaller Ximen de Tovia, s/n. Autocares Travicoi runs a daily bus from Valencia, with buses departing from Valencia at 10:00 and arriving in Xàtiva at 11:05.
As the historic core of the city is quite small, the easiest way to get around is by foot. For visitors who prefer not to walk, there is a 3 taxi stand (☏ ) in front of the train station.
Castle and environs
- 1 Castell de Xàtiva (Castillo de Játiva / Castle of Xàtiva), ☏ . Winter Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, summer Tu-Su 10:00-19:00; last admission ½ hr before closing. This large hilltop fortification was first established by the Iberians, with the oldest section being the eastern side of the castle (Castell Menor, or 'Lower Castle'). After the Roman conquest, the original eastern section was expanded and a second fortress (Castell Major, or 'Upper Castle') was built to the west. Both castles were reinforced by the Moors, who also built the walls connecting the fort with the town below. After the Christian Reconquista further renovations were carried out, and the Upper Castle was used for a time as a jail for political prisoners. In the 18th century the castle suffered serious damage first during the Spanish War of Succession, and later from an earthquake in 1748, after which it fell into disuse. In the early 20th century a wealthy local businessman built, as a residence, a new section between the two castles, in the neo-Gothic style. This set of buildings now house a restaurant, exhibition hall, and visitor center.
Each castle affords great views of the city below, and of the mirroring castle. The walk up the (small) mountain is most scenic via the footpaths which pass by the Ermita de Sant Feliu and La Nevera (listed below). For those who don't want to walk there is also a tourist train which departs twice a day from the tourist office (summer: 12:30 and 17:30, winter: 12:30 and 16:30; €4.20), which winds its way through the town and uphill to the castle. Alternatively, a one-way taxi ride from the tourist office will cost about €11. Castle admission €2.40 (adults), €1.20 (children); free Tu afternoons.
- 2 Torre del Sol (Tower of the Sun / Almohad Tower). This large Moorish watchtower was built in the early 13th century along the eastern-most wall joining the castle with the town below. The tower was completely restored in 2001. It is generally not open to the public, but visitors may be granted special access on request – inquire at the tourist office.
- 3 Ermita de Sant Feliu (Ermita de San Félix / Hermitage of Saint Felix). May-Sep: daily 10:00-13:00, 16:00-19:00; Oct-Apr: daily 10:00-13:00, 15:00-18:00. Located in the original area of the old Roman city of Saetabis, this Romanesque church is one of the oldest in the Valencia region. It was built in 1265 on a site that had been occupied by a Roman temple, a Visigothic church, and a mosque. The portico is supported by six Roman columns, and inside are several well-preserved medieval frescoes dating from between the 14th and 16th centuries, along with a few Roman tablets. Free.
- 4 Cova dels Lleons (Cueva de los Leones / Cave of the Lions). A short distance up the hill from the Ermita de Sant Feliu, this small cave is said in popular folklore to have once contained lions. Sant Feliu (San Félix) of the nearby hermitage was thrown in the cave but remained unmolested by the lions, which was considered to be a miracle.
- 5 La Nevera (Ice House). This curious domed, circular structure built over a 10-metre pit was used in the 18th century as an ice house, a place to store compacted snow which had been transported overnight from the nearby Sierra de Mariola. Although not documented until its use as an ice house, the building is believed to be possibly Arabic in origin. The interior is generally not open to the public, but can be appreciated through the windows. Free.
- 6 Palau Arabe de la Aljama (Palacio árabe de la Aljama / Moorish palace of Aljama) (a short distance from the Ermita de Sant Feliu). The excavated remains of a Moorish palace can be easily appreciated from behind a chain-link fence.
- 7 L'Almodí Museu Municipal (El Almudín Museo Municipal / The Almudin Municipal Museum), C/ Corretgería 46, ☏ . Winter (16 Sep - 14 Jun): Tu-F 10:00-14:00 16:00-18:00, Sa Su 10:00-14:00; summer (15 Jun - 15 Sep): Tu-F 09:30-14:30, Sa Su 10:00-14:00. Housed in two adjoining buildings, one of them a medieval granary, this museum is dedicated to the history of the city and the wider area. Items on display include Iberian, Roman, and Moorish artifacts, as well as a few Gothic altarpieces and portraits by Josep de Ribera, a native son who spent most of his artistic career in Italy. Of special note is a portrait of Felipe V which has been hung upside down in retribution for the devastation he wrought on the city during the Spanish War of Succession in the early 18th century. €2.40 (adults), €1.20 (children).
- 8 Hospital Municipal (Hospital de Xàtiva). Founded in 1250, this building has been renovated many times over the centuries. Its most noteworthy feature is its beautiful facade, which combines Gothic and Renaissance elements. Today it is still used as a medical facility.
- 9 Església Collegiata Basílica de Santa Maria (Iglesia Colegial Basílica de Santa María / La Seu), Plaça Calixto III, 6. Located on the site of an earlier mosque and later Gothic church, construction of the former cathedral began in 1596 and lasted nearly 350 years, interrupted by war and plague. The most striking features of the rather severe building are the apse and altar.
- Falles (Fallas). 14-19 March. Like a number of other towns in the Valencian Community, Xàtiva celebrates Fallas with the construction and burning of falla monuments in the streets.
- Festa del Corpus Christi (Fiesta de Corpus Christi). 60 days after Easter, usually late May or early June. Celebrated in Xàtiva since the 14th century, it is considered to be one of the more important Corpus Christi events in the Valencian Community due to its more unusual dances and traditions. The most famous dance is La Moma i els Momos, in which a man in white dress and white-veiled face is surrounded by seven men with black-veiled faces, representing the struggle of virtue against the seven deadly sins. Other noteworthy dances include the Gegants (giants), the Nanos (dwarves), and the Paloteig (stick dance). The procession begins at 18:00 at the 1 Plaça de la Seu. Free.
- Fira d'Agost (Feria de Agosto / August Festival). 15-20 August. This annual event has been celebrated since 1250 with just a few interruptions for epidemics and the sacking of the town by Philip V in the 18th century. Originally it was held as a cattle market; today the primary attractions are traditional song and dance performances, a medieval market with handmade crafts, and street food.
- 1 Mercadillo (street market), Plaça del Mercat. Tu and F mornings. A street market for fresh local produce and other goods.
Xàtiva is most known for its rice dishes, especially arrós al forn (Spanish: 'arroz al horno'), a rice dish baked in a clay pot with blood sausage and vegetables. Another local specialty is arnadí, a pumpkin pie with almonds, pine nuts and cinnamon.
- 1 Casa la Abuela, Carrer de la Reina, 17, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M 09:00-15:45 20:30-22:45, Tu W 09:00-15:45, Th-Su 09:00-15:45 20:30-22:45; Jul-Sep closed Su, Oct-Jun closed W. With traditional decor and cuisine, this is probably one of the most well-known restaurants in town. The chefs have revived some forgotten local specialties, and are especially known for their arrós al forn. Set menu €16.50.
- 2 El Mirador del Castell, Castell, s/n (inside the castle's main gate by the ticket office), ☏ . Daily 10:00-18:00. Although the food is not spectacular, this has a lovely setting with ample outdoor seating and a great view overlooking the town below. Set menu €11-22.
Two popular artisanal beers are produced in Xàtiva. La Socarrada is seasoned with fresh rosemary and rosemary honey, and Er Boquerón is made with Mediterranean seawater. Both beers are available in local restaurants and shops.
- 1 Hotel Mont Sant, Subida al Castillo de Xàtiva, s/n (off the road leading to the castle), ☏ , , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00-20:00, check-out: 07:30-12:00. Surrounded by lovely gardens just below the castle. Has a fitness centre and onsite restaurant. Rates include continental breakfast and free WiFi; pets permitted for an extra fee. €94-180.
- 2 Hotel Vernissa, C/ Academico Maravall, 1, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: after 15:30, check-out: until 12:30. Includes continental breakfast and free WiFi; pets allowed for no extra charge. €48-70 (singles), €59-85 (doubles).