Benizahat Tower (La Vall d'Uixó), a must-see in Castellon.
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Benizahat Tower


Declared a Site of Cultural Interest - La Vall d'Uixó

Benizahat Tower

Declared a Site of Cultural Interest

It’s the only tower in the town centre. Built in the Middle Ages, probably Islamic.
The tower is located within the town and is the only visible vestige of the ancient Benizahat hamlet known for its cemetery and cistern.  Both are located in the current Plaza de la Asunción square. The occupation of La Vall d´Uixó dates back to prehistoric times. An archaeological site is preserved which demonstrates the kinds of places where groups of hunters and gatherers lived during the late Upper Palaeolithic Period, at around 16,000 BC. The valley continued to be inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in fortified settlements. The Iberian period led to a considerable expansion in the population, as proven by the remains of Punta de Orleyl and Poblat de Sant Josep. The Muslim invasion led to the establishment of twelve hamlets around the River Belcaire in the valley. Six of them: Benigasló, Alcudia, Benigafull, Zeneja, Benizahat and Zeneta, were located in what is now the current city. Each one of them were independent and had their own cemetery and industrial and agricultural areas. The rest of the hamlets ended up disappearing or gave rise to other towns like Alfondeguilla. The political and judicial organization of all these groups of small populations protected by the Castle was established through a Hins, where the aljama or representatives of the various hamlets guaranteed safety in the valley, all depending on the Amman of Valencia, as proven by the 1250 Town Charter. The inclusion of La Vall in the territory of James I and the subsequent political constitution of the Kingdom of Valencia did not lead to any significant changes because the Muslim community of La Vall, like all Valencian communities, essentially maintained the structure of the settlement and the same legal system that existed when the aljamas were surrendered to this king. This situation was maintained throughout the late Middle Ages while La Vall was under royal domain.  It ended with King Alfonso he Magnanimous in 1436, when he gave his brother Enrique several places and villas, including La Vall d´Uixó. After this donation, it became a feudal estate until their abolition in the 19th century. The first and only written reference to Benizahat appears in the Book of Distribution when ten years after the surrender of Uixó to James I, he donated it to Ramón Despedriz and his English wife on 1 October 1248: “A Ramón Despedriz i la vostra esposa Anglesa, la torre o alquería anomenada Binazeit, en el terme d´Uixó i sis jovadas en el millor lloch de la mateixa alquería, 1 de octubre any del Señor 1248”. The valley became practically depopulated after the Moorish expulsion in 1609, so the dukes established repopulation contracts with people from Maestrazgo de Montesa, according to a deed dated 1612. It’s an L-shaped tower with a ground floor and two floors over it, covered by a sloped Arab tile roof. The inside is conditioned for use as a private home and none of the original elements are noticeable except the spiral staircase. It’s made of masonry and bricks. The tower is largely plastered with cement mortar, but was modified when balconies were opened on the first floor. There is a large hole in one of the walls on the top floor; it’s topped off by an arch.

 


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