James I of Spain was left speechless the first time he saw Xàtiva and its impressive fortress. Come and visit the town and have a similar reaction when you step foot in sights steeped in centuries of history and immerse yourself in incredible landscapes.
One of the most beautiful towns in Spain, Xàtiva is defined by its delicious gastronomy, fascinating history and beautiful naturescapes. The town’s castle, Castillo de Xàtiva, dominates the skyline and speaks of a millennia-long history. But Xàtiva is not stuck in the past: it is a vibrant and bustling place with a great deal to offer visitors.
If you’re keen to visit the town, you will be pleased to know that it’s easy to get to. The town is just a 50-minute drive along the motorway from València city or a direct train ride from the capital’s main station.
What to see in Xàtiva
Beckoning you to come and explore, the castle is a great place to start your exploration of the town. As you make your way up to the top of the hill it crowns, known as Sierra Vernissa, you will discover that the fortress sits on ancient remains dating back to the Iberian and Roman periods. The Medieval part of the castle is known as Castillo Menor, which is surrounded by Castillo Mayor, giving the fortress its characteristic combination of Gothic and Islamic architecture.
From here you will be able to peer down at the town and have a good look at what else remains to be explored. One of the buildings that will jump out at you is La Seu, also known as Colegiata de Santa María. This great church is built on the site of the old mosque and is home to a beautiful altarpiece and interesting museum.
And that’s not all. You can also visit Hospital Real, the birthplace of Papa Alejandro - which is a stop-off on a guided tour about the Borjas - and Museo del Almudín. This museum is famed for its portrait of Felipe V which, most unusually, hangs upside down. If you’d like to find out more about this, we recommend taking a guided tour to really get to know the history of the town.
Once you’ve explored all the sights and points of interest in the town, you will hear the call of the surrounding scenery. The Cova Negra trail is an excellent route that walkers, cyclists and rock climbers will love. Starting in Xàtiva, the trail will lead you to a Gothic aqueduct known as Les Arcadetes d’Alboi. As you continue along the route, you will see beautiful birds circling overhead, such as Bonelli’s eagles and peregrine falcons. An excellent opportunity for birders to get out their binoculars and discover the local wildlife.
You will soon reach Font del Segura and then cross a bridge to the destination of the walk, Cova Negra. After taking some photographs of this impressive cave, you will start to make your return to Xàtiva, passing a popular rock climbing spot: L’Aventador.
This rockface is equipped for rock climbers - offering different levels of ascent - and even has a via ferrata. The trail then rises up, affording some beautiful vistas over Xàtiva. The final part of the route will take you to the remains of the wall that once protected the town and an old ice house.
Eating out in Xàtiva is another experience you won’t want to miss. Arroz al horno is the undisputed king of traditional local recipes, but there are other tasty varieties such as arroz blanquet and paella which your palate will thank you for. For dessert you simply have to try arnadí (a pudding made from pumpkin) and almoixàvena (a pastry enriched with egg and a delicious touch of cinnamon).
Before you leave, we recommend making a few purchases so you can enjoy the flavours of Xàtiva at home. Make sure you get a handful of ajos tiernos, green garlic, which can be used to make all sorts of dishes, and a bottle or two La Costera wine.
So what are you waiting for? Come to Xàtiva to explore all its sights, immerse yourself in its landscapes and indulge in its cuisine. The town has been waiting for centuries to welcome you - don’t make it wait any longer.
How to get here:
Xàtiva constitutes an important link in communications, the N-340 motorway (Valencia-Xàtiva-Alcoy-Alicante) and the railway (Valencia-Xàtiva-Albacete).