Monday, 25 April 2016

21 April 2016 – Visit to Sagunto

We joined the U3A coach trip for a day trip to Sagunto.   The weather forecast was for heavy rain, and it did so for most of the two hour journey.   Fortunately it stopped just before we arrived and remained dry, if overcast, for the rest of the day.
We had a very good guide for our visit, otherwise you can spend a lot of time wandering aimlessly around the town.   Sagunto has a long history and we were a little disappointed to find a very modern Spanish industrial town.   So the guide was all the more important.

Sagunto is most famous for the siege by Hannibal in 218 BC.   I was more interested in the more recent, and much less famous, Napoleonic battle in 1811.   Our guide knew little about it, but slightly more than the staff in the tourist information office.   However I was pleased to discover that our tour started in the main square where there is a statue of Jose Romeu y Parras, a local hero during the French occupation.
Next stop was the museum, where our guide really came into his own.   He brought the exhibits alive, particularly his explanation of a Roman coffin containing a young baby.
We then walked to the Roman Theatre which has been extensively restored.   New materials have been used to illustrate the old from the new.
Once more our guide explained the history, and Sandra gave us a quick (Beatles) song to illustrate how good the acoustics were
It was a further climb to the castle and a few of our group opted to remain here whilst we carried on

Sagunto is rightly famous for its castle, which is almost a kilometer long.   It played a role in both of the battles fought here in 218 BC and again in 1811.   It started as an Iberian castle, then Roman and again medieval.
It also provides excellent views of the town, surrounding hills and the coast
Our guide concentrated on the Roman forum and the surrounding area
It’s a pity that we could not have seen more of the castle and even walked around the walls.  But we only had the guide for the morning, and there was a lot to cover. 

We did however get a chance to view the area of fighting during the 1811 battle, but again not nearly long enough to explore 
On the way back to the town centre we walked through the Jewish Quarter

Not very much to see, and we would have preferred to spend more time at the castle.  We did not realise this until the group broke up for lunch, and did not fancy climbing back up the castle again.
After lunch we visited the Coves de Sant Josep in nearby Vall de Uxo, where we had a boat trip on the longest navigable underground river in Europe.  
 An excellent day out and very lucky with the weather.   Left us more than enough to see and do during a return visit in the future

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