About Sagunto Castle
Sagunto Castle (Castillo de Sagunto) is a vast ruin spread over a kilometre and overlooking today’s town near Valencia, Spain. The most impressive parts of Sagunto Castle date back to the 8th century and were built by the Moors. However, the site also shows signs of Sagunto’s previous inhabitants, namely the Iberians and the Romans.
Sagunto Castle history
The site of Sagunto Castle was first settled by the Iberians during the early Iron Age. As the North African empire of Carthage expanded into southern Europe, the inhabitants of Sagunto formed an allegiance with the Roman Empire, enemies of the Carthaginians. As a result, Carthaginian general Hannibal sacked the settlement in 219 BC, which resulted in the outbreak of the Second Punic War. Sagunto was retaken by the Romans in 214 BC.
In the 2nd century BC, the Romans established themselves at Sagunto, building a temple on the hill and a water cistern that was later incorporated into an Imperial forum. However, it was during the Islamic period that the Alcabar part of the castle was constructed, including most of the outer walls. At the time Sagunto had fallen into the territory of Catalonia, taken by force in 929 AD, although later submitted to the sultan Abd-ar-Rahman III in 933 AD to be used as a fortress defending Valencia and Catalonia.
The castle was taken from Muslim rule in 1238 by Christian King Jaume I who incorporated Sagunto into the Kingdom of Valencia. Despite being garrisoned by Christians from the 13th century, most of the town’s inhabitants remained Muslim and by the early 14th century, Sagunto also had a growing Jewish population who established a cemetery under the castle walls.
Over the following centuries, Sagunto passed between the Aragonese and Castilian kings, who in turn reinforced and laid waste to the castle, particularly during the Spanish War of Succession in the early 18th century and the Peninsular War.
In 1932, the Roman remains were excavated in the Plaza de Armas.
Sagunto Castle today
Today, the impressive remains of Sagunto Castle can be reached up a winding road. You can easily spend over an hour wandering around the massive fortress town, but be sure to wear comfortable shoes because the ground is rough and overgrown.
Views from the castle reach out in all directions, giving you an idea of what would have been seen by the castle’s ancient defenders. While there are no informative signs on site, you can download the town’s app to give you more information.
Getting to Sagunto Castle
Just 30 minutes on the train from Valencia, Segunto Castle is a 15 minute walk from the train station. The nearest bus stop is Castell along the 102C line, a 5 minute walk away.