VALENCIA, Spain >> It’s an easy day trip from Valencia, and it’s also a trip back in time: a visit to Sagunto Castle.
Sagunto is just a half-hour by train from Valencia. From there you can take a taxi or walk 15 to 20 minutes through the narrow cobblestone streets toward the big castle ruins on the hill. The fortress was built to protect the town, and through the centuries has been used by Moors, Romans and Christians. There’s also a 14th-century Jewish cemetery. Hannibal sacked the place in 219 B.C.; Napoleon’s army seized the castle after a siege in 1811; and the ancient parapets were used as machine-gun turrets during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
The site is made up of seven squares and stretches about a half-mile along the hill. There is no admission charge. You can explore the grounds, climb some of the ancient walls and even inspect the Roman outhouses. A small museum houses stones with Latin and Jewish inscriptions. A walk down the hill brings you to the restored Roman amphitheater, dating to the reign of Augustus. The only restrooms at the site have no roof, offering a seated view of the castle walls.
The fortress offers spectacular views of the town below, the Mediterranean and, on a clear day, Valencia in the distance.
The winding walk back through town, perhaps with lunch or souvenir shopping along the way, brings you to the train station. You’ll be back in Valencia with plenty of time left to enjoy the day.