Sagunto and Coves de Sant Josep
On the 18th May, forty-seven members were ready and raring to go at the appointed hour and in what seemed like no time at all, piling off the coach to explore Sagunto and its castle.
Celia guided the group through the old town and was very knowledgeable about its history which dates back over 2000 years. At one time known as ‘Arse’ by the Iberians! Under the Romans it became ‘Saguntum’ and has been fought over and ruled by many different elements throughout the years. However, there was a period in its history when Moors, Christians and Jews all coexisted there.
The bells of the gothic church of Santa Maria have been used in the past to warn of danger. Set in the four-sided tower, the bell facing the direction of the danger would be rung – early GPS?
It was a pretty walk up to the castle through the old down, including a glimpse of its Jewish quarter, once home to nearly one third of the inhabitants until the inquisition in 1492.
First stop at the castle was the Roman amphitheatre, built in the 1st century and now a national monument. Able to seat up to 6,000, it has been extensively restored and its wonderful acoustics were appreciated by the group when Margaret Staines sang Ave Maria – simply wonderful.
The castle was declared a National Monument in 1931 and the remains bear testament to both Roman and Arab occupation. It was a fair old climb to the very top and spectacular views over the castle providing an insight into its sheer size (almost 1 kilometre) and strategic importance in dominating the surrounding area.
Back down in the square everyone rewarded themselves with a coffee or a glass of something cold and a bite to eat before heading off to the San José Caves (Coves de Sant Josep in Valenciano).
This World Heritage site, the longest navigable underground river in Europe, was an unforgettable experience with incredible rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites all enhanced by clever lighting. The boat trip ended in a larger cavern with a light show accompanied by an orchestral version of ‘All of Me’.
A free raffle on the journey back to Jalon, rounded off what had been a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Article by Magda Green