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Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Montsant, a place to lose yourself in history

There is an area in Xàtiva where the historical legacy has resulted in a beautiful landscape. This area is Montsant, whose hotel ensures that its visitors are transported to another time period.

Hotel Montsant

The town of Xàtiva, located in the south of the Valencia province, is a location of great historic importance, but also of undeniable beauty.  This town is where Monstant is found, an area in which there is now a very special hotel, which enjoys some enormous patrimonial value.  With the boost of this ensemble, the Valencian businessman Vicent Quilis has wanted to enhance the natural beauty of the area, still unknown to many, despite its countless virtues. The chairman of the Inelcom company has the firm intention of converting the city of Xàtiva into a hot spot for lovers of art, and has even proposed an underground museum.

The antiquity of the area goes back to the Bronze Age and preserves the archaeological remains of the Iberian, Roman, Visigoth and Moorish periods. There is a large reservoir from medieval times, as well as the remains of a monastery of Cistercian nuns, and anecdotes as interesting as that of the official portrait of Felipe V which, since the 1950s, remains hung upside down.  It also emphasises its environment, highlighted by the skyline of the castle, from which the coast is sighted, and dotted around the caves, reservoirs and a “nevera” (snow well) which are all hidden amongst the mountains.  Because of all this, and much more, Montsant is a place to lose yourself in the world and peacefully relax in the middle of nature.

A majestic past

To find the origin of the city of Xàtiva you have to trace back to the Bronze Age, on the southern side of the mountain which, today, holds the castle. With the change of the population, it was transformed permanently to what we know today as Costa del Castell, where Romans, Visigoths and Muslims built their public life.  During the Islamic era, Montsant was a collection of buildings and gardens for the powerful personalities, but it was Jaime I who established royal residency in the city after the Christian reconquering in the 13th century, and allowed the construction of the large reservoir, which is still preserved.  A short while after, the monastery of Císter was founded, with a large church, an abbey, and a capitular hall.

Throughout its history, the area has also experienced a period of upheaval. In the Spanish War of Succession, the Kingdom of Valencia supported the losing side and, as a punishment, Xàtiva was raided and ransacked by the troops of Felipe V. This is the reason why, since the 1950s, the Town Museum conserves the official portrait of the monarchy hung upside down.  The monastery of Montsant was also besieged during the Napoleon occupation and, with the expropriation of Mendizábal, was sold to private hands in 1855, proceeding to the demolition of the church and of the abbey.

Montsant

This is how, over a century ago, this ensemble of great historic impression became a private residence.  Interestingly enough, it was in the hands of the grandfather of the writer from Alcoy, Juan Gil-Albert, who spent the summer here during his childhood.  In the year 1994 the Hotel Montsant was inaugurated, which in 2009 was bought by the company Inelcom,  of which Vicent Quilis is chairman.  The Valencian business owner considers himself “un xativí de cor” (a person who feels a strong devotion to Xàtiva), who misses the town from where he currently lives in Madrid and who strives to convey this majestic past to all of its guests.

The incomparable environment

Montsant is located in a privileged spot in Xàtiva, halfway between the city and the castle, and built on a platform, so that it enjoys some unique views. Its gardens are especially pleasant in the spring months, and they invite guests to stroll through the greenery or simply sit reading a book with the mountains in the background.  Beyond the limits of the hotel, you will find the slope of the castle, with its chapels, caves, and pathways, which you can go deep into to discover the nature and the heritage of the area, composed of monuments such as the Castillo Menor and la Torre del Sol.

The two most popular chapels in Xàtiva are that of Sant Josep and Sant Feliu.  The former is of a Neoclassical style, despite originally being a gothic building dedicated to Santa Bárbara, where  a ribbed vault still stands at the base of the bell tower.  The chapel of Sant Feliu is the oldest temple in the city, built in the 13th century, with fragments of Roman pillars and a distinctly Roman style.  Another stop on the historic route is the Nevera, a brick vault which was built in the 17th century to store the snow of the castle’s slope, and very close by you will find the Cova de les Gotetes, with an dug out raft in the rocks.

Xàtiva

The most emblematic construction in Xàtiva is its castle. From the Iberian period, its current appearance corresponds predominantly to the Islamic period.  It is usually divided into two different wings (Small and Large Castle), connected by a wall route where there also remain some original cannons. However, its state of conservation is not as good as it could be, due to the siege of the Spanish War of Succession, the earthquake in 1748, and the Napoleonic wars.  The vicinity of Montsant is useful, partly to increase the value of the historic ensemble to which it belongs, and also to preserve it.

The hotel guests must not waste the opportunity to get to know the city of Xàtiva, with an old town of such great architectonic value.  Within its streets it houses the Seu, a large sized temple equipped with an impressive bell tower, as well as a highly recommended museum of Christian art.  Other churches of interest are that of Saint Francisco or Saint Peter.  The city streets preserve diverse antique elements, such as the fountain with 25 water jets, or the Trinity square, but there are also spaces to relax, such as the gardens of the Beso and Palasiet, and even the market square, where sitting down for a drink is possible at any time of day.

 

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