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Published: February 14th 2011
A Friendly Suggestion
One of the desk clerks at the hotel in Valencia, a young man, said, "You should visit my village."
He was marking places on a Valencia city map that he thought we would be interested in visiting.
We asked how far the village was from Valencia. He said it was about a 40 minute train ride and that there was a train about every 30 minutes.
"Do you still live in Xativa?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied, "I ride the train each day to work. It is nice, I can sleep."
He then told us the village, like many others in Spain, is old with lots of history and that it is often called the Village of Fountains
. During the time of the Roman occupation the village was famous for its silk fabrics. The Moors introduced the making of paper and Xativa became a center for the manufacture of paper.
On the train riding to Xativa we passed so many fields of oranges! It seemed like almost all the land was under cultivation with fruit trees. Some of the trees were obviously not orange trees and were bare at this
Castle - zoom view
The wall & buildings ran along the top of the mountain for at least half a mile or more.
time of year. Perhaps they were peach trees. The farther we went the more we realized that eastern Spain looks almost exactly like many parts of coastal California. No wonder so many Spanish settlements were established on the west coast of the USA. People must have felt completely at home there with dry weather, the ocean on one side and mountains on the other.
A lot of the villages we passed and places where the train stopped were not very near the train tracks. We felt some anxiety about what we would do if we got to our stop and the town we wanted to visit was not in sight or in sight but miles away near the mountains. We were so delighted to discover that the train stop in Xative is IN the town and the walk to interesting things in town was not one that we had any trouble making.
On a ridge high above the town we could see a large castle. The longer we walked the more we could see that this was a very large castle. It looked like it ran along the ridge for at least half a
mile. It had been begun by the Iberians and the Carthaginians before Christ was born. During the many centuries it has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. Today it stands and is a tourist attraction. Unfortunately we did not have time to climb to the castle. Also unfortunately we were there on Monday and that is the only day of the week when tourist buses do not run. We realized we could not walk all the way up that mountain to visit the castle.. It would have been dark by the time we reached the crest of the mountain . We did climb about halfway up and got to see the outside of an ancient church. Nearby the church we saw an archeological dig unearthing Roman ruins.
In the town we found a medieval hospital, medieval in that the building was built centuries ago but modern in that the hospital is still operating as a hospital. Think of the changes in medicine and the thousands of patients that have been attended to during that long period of time! When it was built it was a hospital for the poor and it continues this
noble task even today. It is for those who are in need but without funds to pay for care. We saw one clinic which was for people with drug addiction problems.
Women washing clothes
As we walked through the village we walked past quite a few public fountains. At one we found a number of young women were washing their clothes. It must have been bone numbing work as it was a chilly day and the water had to be very cold. Regardless the women were having a good time talking and laughing as they worked. It was a social occasion as well as work. It was interesting to see all the soap suds in the clothes as the women scrubbed them and then to see the bubbles run away as the clothes were rinsed in the running, COLD water.
As usual with us we walked at least 5 miles in and around and up and down Xativa and when we got thoroughly tired we caught an evening train back to Valencia.
This was a very pleasant side trip getting us out of the large urban center of Valencia, past many amazing orange orchards out into
Two "False Popes" lived in this town long ago.
the country to a very nice, normal hometown setting.
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