The small city of Xátiva, located just 50 kilometers south of Valencia, makes for an excellent day trip from Valencia... and we want you to come along with us!
Located on the banks of the Albaida River, on the southern slopes of the Serra Vernissa mountains and along important trade and travel routes, Xátiva seemed destined for success as an important hub of commerce and production. Xátiva's history reaches back to Iberian times, when the area was originally settled. It enjoyed increasing wealth under the Romans, when it became known for its production of textiles and coins. When the Romans succumbed to Spain's powerful Islamic empire, Xátiva continued to flourish; in the 12th century the Arabs introduced the technology to make paper, and Xátiva rapidly became an early European center of paper production.
When the Spanish Reconquest took over the city in the 13th century, in the year 1238 to be exact, Xátiva became the Valencia kingdom's second largest city and enjoyed continuing commerce and affluence. Its glory days screeched to a halt, however, in 1707 when King Felipe V's troops set fire to much of the town in an attempt to all but destroy it. Why? It was just after the conclusion of the War of Spanish Succession, which Felipe V emerged from with a crown on his head. Unfortunately, Xátiva had taken the side of the "other guy", Carlos VI, and Felipe V was none too happy.
Luckily, many of Xátiva's historic buildings have withstood the test of time, thus providing us with a wonderful excursion that you can sign up for right in the school reception!
With centuries upon centuries of history under its belt, Xátiva contains a wealth of historic fountains, hospitals, churches, convents and mansions spans the ages.
One of Xátiva's most unmissable features is the sprawling ridge-top castle that overlooks the city. The castle is, in reality, two fortifications - one with Iberian origins and the other with Roman origins - that were reformed and connected by the Moors during their centuries of rule. The complex you see today is principally Islamic and Gothic. It has an astounding 30 defensives towers, 4 fortified gateways and, within, delightful fountains and gardens... telltale signs of the castle's former Islamic residents.
On the climb up (or down), you'll also see the 18th-century Hermita de San José (San José Chapel) and the 13th-century Romanesque Iglesia de Sant Feliu, Xátiva's oldest church.
Within the city, the most notable sight is the Colegiata Basílica (Collegiate Church), a edifice constructed in the 16th century. Located at the center of town, it was constructed on the site where Xátiva's former mosque once stood. It's a lovely example of the austere Renaissance architectural style and, along with the castle, is one of Xátiva's most important buildings. You can climb up the belltower for excellent views and the rich collection of its museum is also worth a peek.
Another interesting stop is the Museo del Almudín, which has a good collection of artwork and various archaeological findings; of particular note is the portrait of King Felipe V, which is literally hung upside down in retribution for the aforementioned pyrotechnic acts against the city long ago.