Játiva has a very, very long history, and what’s more, with some very, very interesting characters.
In fact, the extraordinary fortress of the town could summarise almost everything. Hannibal strolled through its oldest part, the Castillo Menor, more than two millennia ago, since his wife Imilce was Iberian, and it seems that she even gave birth in this very place.
There were the times of fights between Romans and Carthaginians, and Saiti, which is the way the city was called then, became involved in the mess. The castle would then be conquered by Scipio, and would later have its role in the civil war between Pompey and Sertorious. And yes, yes, despite those names, we are talking about towns from Valencia.
So, Játiva became Roman and then Visigoth, and when it was time to be Muslim, it was too. It even changed its name to Sativa. But things didn’t end there because in the thirteenth century Jaime I turned up to recover territories for Christianity, and this castle would become, from then on, a strategic place for the Kingdom of Valencia.
But there is more. During the War of Spanish Succession, Játiva came up with the idea of supporting Archduke Carlos, so its fortress had to suffer the siege of Bourbon troops. The town was defeated, razed and burned in 1707, and to remember all that nonsense there is a portrait of Felipe V, who order the massacre, hanging upside down in the Museum of Fine Arts. An elegant form of memory-revenge, don’t you think?
But let’s go back to the fifteenth century. During that turbulent Renaissance period two popes in Rome came from Játiva, both members of the famous and devious Borja family, better known in Italy as The Borgias.
The first one was Callixtus III, and as soon as he sat on the Vatican throne, he began to distribute privileges among his relatives. As you can see, some things never change … One of them was his beloved nephew Rodrigo, who, driven by his uncle, would also reach the Papal chair under the name of Alexander VI. Intrigues, crimes and betrayals were a routine thing in the tasks of this guy, who they also attribute incestuous relations with his daughter Lucrezia and some other little sins.
Therefore, in Játiva you will find a square dedicated to Callixtus III, the initiator of such a fascinating saga, and another to the aforementioned, Alexander VI, who brought the family virtues to the highest level. But there is also a splendid patrimony that earned this old quarter the declaration of Historic-Artistic Site back in the eighties.
You must also know that you are in one of the oldest villages in the Mediterranean, where even Middle Palaeolithic remains have been found.