Just a few miles away from the city of Valencia, 14 miles to be exact, sits the amazing and historic Sagunto castle, which along with the city, deserves a whole day trip from Valencia to do it justice. Valencia itself is quite flat, but just a few miles out of the center, we have the Sierra Calderona mountains situated between Valencia and the Castelló provinces.
WHY SAGUNTO CASTLE IS ONE OF THE BEST VALENCIA DAY TRIPS:
Sagunto Castle History:
This two-thousand-year-old plus castle has remnants of the glory days of past rulers, including Romans, Iberians, and the Moors. It’s easy to see the reasoning behind the location of this fortress. Being quite a few meters above sea level, you can see your enemies approaching from the sea. Having been conquered so many times, maybe it wasn´t quite as advantageous when you think of it.
The defensive walls are visible for miles coming into the city, and they are pretty impressive. Most of the ruins that are left are a combination of Muslim, Christian, and French modifications. These walls connected different fortifications that were built in strategic places in the town below and the fortress ringed around it for its protection.
There are seven main sections of the castle to explore, namely:
- Plaza de Armas
- Plaza de Almenara
- Plaza de los Nueve Pilares
- Plaza de San Fernando
- Plaza de los Estudiantes
- Plaza de la Ciudadela
- Plaza del Espolón
Two of the impressive areas on the castle grounds were:
The Roman Temple in the Forum area. There are the remains of a basilica and stalls for tradesmen during the Roman era. There is a cistern that is believed to have been rebuilt after the Second Punic War.
It was in 1985 when the Roman forum was excavated. It is thought that the original forum could have been built anytime between 509 BC and 27 BC. It is a known fact that it was rebuilt during the ruling period of Cesar Augustus, the first Roman Emperor who had the hilltop leveled to serve as a base for the forum.
From what little history of the origins of Sagunto Castle is, at its origin, the city at that time belonged to Tortosa, the capital city of Baix Ebre in Catalonia. Apparently, during the Moorish rule, Sagunto was the poor ignored city and Valencia was the favored one.
It was King Jaume I, the conqueror who eventually incorporated it into the Valencia kingdom in 1238 when he conquered the Moors. Most of the inhabitants remained Muslims through to the mid to end of the 13th century.
The population grew to become predominantly Jewish by the 14th century. Some of the ruins visible still are Jewish tombs in the cemetery that was built beneath the castle walls in 1328.
The Roman Theatre of Sagunto:
Just below the Sagunto castle is the Teatro Romano de Sagunto. Built during the days of Emperor Augustus, it seats up to 8,000 spectators in a semicircular shape. It was declared a place of Cultural Interest in 1896.
You can view the Teatro Romano from the castle grounds, and it looks fantastic. It has obviously been modernized but it doesn’t look too out of place, it actually blends in nicely with the use of limestone. In the summertime, there are musical and theatrical performances held there.
Fun facts about Sagunto:
- At one point, the city’s name was Arse.
- Sagunto minted its own coins when it traded with coastal colonies such as Carthage.
- Other names it’s had include Saguntum and Morvedre.
- Saguntum has a patron saint named Sacerdos, “the priest”.
- The great warrior El Cid captured it in 1098, and the Muslims took it back three years later.
- There was a Battle of Saguntum in 1811 which was a failure for the Spanish in their attempt to capture the castle from the Imperial French Army of Aragon.
Sagunto Castle Entry Fee :
It’s free entry for the Sagunto castle. It’s also free entry to the Roman amphitheater. A bargain for sure, even though the fee to visit the Italica ruins in Seville didn’t break the bank. It was very reasonable at only 75 cents per person!
Things to know about exploring your Sagunto Castle visit:
- Dress for the weather, there is a lot of walking and lots of rough ground.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Bring a bottle of water in the summer.
- You can take a cab up the hill. Worth it l think.
- Give yourself about three hours to fully enjoy the castle ruins and Roman theatre.
- Because there are constant refurbishment works, not all parts might be open for exploration.
Modern-day Sagunto is a really nice Spanish town that grows larger and has a population of about 65,000. There are 13 kilometers of the Mediterranean coast so there are lovely sandy beaches. You can still wander through the narrow streets of Juderia, the Old Jewish Quarter. You can therefore see why if time allows, you should allot a full day to discover the city.
If you work up an appetite, you can dine on traditional Valencian food in one of the lovely restaurants in the old town. Just make sure to check prices, the menu of the day prices ranged from €10 to a whopping 28 euros per person that we observed.
Getting from Valencia to Sagunto Castle:
- By Bus. It takes about a half-hour, and cost between €2-4. The Hicid or Avsa buses do this route.
- By Train: The Renfe Cercanias lines C5 and C6 run every 30 minutes from Valencia. The journey time is 37 minutes and costs €6-9.
- A taxi will run you anywhere from €30 to €50 and might be worth it if sharing.
- If you have a car, you can drive, as we did, and it took about 30 minutes from Valencia to the castle. It was a bit hard to find parking, so keep that in mind.
Sagunto Castle is open daily from 10 am till 6 pm except for Sunday which is 10 am till 2 pm.
The castle is closed on Mondays.
A visit to Sagunto is highly recommended. In addition to the castle, you can visit the museums, the Juderia, the Port of Sagunto and the beaches. Sagunto makes for one of the best day trips from Valencia without a doubt.
One of the reasons why Valencia was voted as the best city for ex-pats might be having some absolutely majestic sites within the province along with everything else.