Baños de la Encina
Baños de la Encina – Sierra Morena
Baños de la Encina is located to the north-east of Jaén, at the foot of Sierra Morena. Part of its township belongs to the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Andújar, which are formations of Middle Mountain that have a real Mediterranean ecosystem with many holm-oaks, cork trees, gall-oaks, pines, oaks and tickets. In it, there are many wealth of the fauna that add a huge hunting value.
The city centre, declared in 1969 Historic-Artistic Site, is a set of great beauty and harmony with the environment, and it is settled in the slopes of a hill crowned by the impressive Castle of Bury Alhamma, in a good condition of conservation, and it was also declared Historic-Artistic Monument. We also can find other monuments like the Church of S. Mateo, the Town Hall, and the Palace of Priores, the Palace of Molina de la Cerda, the House of Herrera Cárdenas and other stately houses.
Baños de la Encina has 392 KM2 of surface and we can distinguish two areas, that are dominated by a meadow landscape, which is only broken by a little strip of olive groves, to the south-east, at the foot of the inner city, and some isolated areas of cereal. The first area is the one of the valley, to the south, in which we can observe the city centre, with terrains of smooth slopes, and the second area, to the north, that borders on Ciudad Real, and that has in its oriental part a mining shanty town whose exploitation has determined the historic evolution of this village, while in its western area is a part of the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Andújar, and that it rises until reaching heights superior to 1000 metres (Cerro de los Caballeros, with 1.093 metres). Other important tops are Selladores (968 metres), Peñón jurado (932 metres), Alarcones (762 metres) and Moro (677 metres).
The past of Baños de la Encina keeps up first evidences of human existence in the sites of the fluvial terraces of the valley in the River Rumblar (Galay, Santa Inés or Angulo), dated between the years 1 00.000 and 30.000 B.C. The period of transition between the Neolithic and the Metal Age is evident when we observe the number of cave paintings that are found in small caves to the north of Baños de la Encina. Although, maybe, the greatest archaeological wealth is the development of the Middle Bronze culture in the basin of the River Rumblar. We can find evidences of an Iberian (Salas de Galiarda) and Roman settlement.
In the Middle Age, with the Arab occupation and being finished the main economic source from other ages, the mining, the farming specialization is intensified, to the extent of transforming the nearer area to the city centre, Valdeloshuertos, and the own city centre itself, in a real artificial Paradise of water and vegetable gardens across a complex system of Wells, terraced patches and irrigation ditches. They were developed under the attentive vigilance of the fortress called Bury Al-Hamma that exerted a strict administrative and economic control of the area, at the same time as it was a quartering of troops and control and defence of the villages at the south of Sierra Morena.
Baños de la Encina Monuments
Castle of Bury Alhama, year 968. Caliphal Period. After the conquest of Fernando III it was modified with the raising of the gothic and cylindrical tower of the homage or also called Almena Gorda. In 1931 it was declared National Historic-Artistic Site. From 1969 waves the flag of the Consejo de Europa.
* Historic-Artistic Site from 1969.
* Church of San Mateo, from XV to XVII centuries. In it several styles are mixed.
* Town Hall, at the beginning of XVI century.
* Hermitage of Santo Cristo del Llano. We can see inside it the side-chapel from XVIII century.
* Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, XVII century. Inside we can observe the cremated remains of a holm oak in which the Virgin appears.
* Casa Torreón Poblaciones Dávalos, XV century. In XVII century the family Poblaciones Dávalos turns it into a palace and they inhabit it, making some repairs.
* Palace of Priores, XV century. Inside it emphasizes a stair and the wine cellars that are unchanging.
* Palace of Molina de la Cerda. Renaissance Style.
The Mill of Saint Christ: The huge Stone building called Molino del Santo Cristo stays on the highest top of the hill of the Calera. The place where it is located (Buenos Aires) had till recently many threshing floor which used the good winds to winnow the grains. This Manchegan mil, the most southern mil o its King -18th century- is divided into three floors, stable, camera and milling room.
Despite of the olive production of the valley, the amount of grain remained, as during the 18th century the agricultural production grew in the nearest mountains. There were two main systems “roza de cama” in por soil, and “roza de barbecho” or fallow land, well used in the farmland of médium quality, half way between the valley and the mountains as the Atalaya farm. This mil was built as consequence of the growing grain production, thanks to the good planning in the use of the soil regulated by the Villege Rules of 1742, required for better ways for milling, and the good cultural relationships with the people from La Mancha. This cultural and economical relationship benefits from a good net of roads crossing Sierra Morena, most of wich are nowadays closed by prívate landowners.
* Site of Cerro de Navalmorquín.
* Camino de la Virgen.
* Villa Romana.
* Cave of the Moneda. In it there are cave paintings and Iberian, Roman and Visigoth remains.
* Collection of cave paintings. In Canjorros de Peñarrubia, Nava el Sach.
* Centenillo. A Roman mine.
* Reservoir of Rumblar. Close to it we can find the village of Peñalosa, where there were found old remains of pottery and agricultural implements.
* House of Herrera Cárdenas, XVIII century.
* House of Galíndez.
* House of Pérez de Vargas.
* House Salido.
* House of Salcedo.
* Mill, XVIII century.
Baños de la Encina Gastronomy
The gastronomy in Baños de la Encina has been linked to the resources given by the ground, the annual seasonal nature and the agricultural, hunting and cattle works, marked by the extent of the township, so by the long distances in the journey. We can find many dishes cooked with food of the hunting activities, an intense use of aromatic activities, stews and simple dishes as a consequence of the necessity of eating in the “place of work “, while the “main meal” was reserved at night.
Between the most valuable dishes of the hunting we can find: stewed or pickled meat of deer, wild boar or buck, partridge or kidney beans, the hare with bordonera sauce (garlic, bay leaf and white wine), thyme or jarón (a spice); the fried breadcrumbs or the “calandrajos with hare”; the dishes of the summer such as the salmorejo (a cream of tomato and bread), ajoblanco (cold garlic and almond soup) or “ensalá” (salad) and “granás” de cuelga;…, and the cucharro, our hoyo, a bread without the crumb, and prepared with olive oil, salt, garlic and the thick grease of a tomato; we can eat them with streaky bacon, a herring, cod,… and also with melon, grapes and olives.
there are steemed the sausages of hunting meat, above all the hard pork sausage and the dried ham or sumarro (steak of fresh pork), using deer meat.
The dulzaina has Arab heritage and it is cooked in holidays: porridges, pestiños (honey-coated pancakes), borrachuelos, and hornazos de Resurrección (Easter Pies) and the “sobas” (a big crunchy and delicious pancake of oil). It is also very popular the lardy cake, with oil and butter, evoking our eclectic origin.
But the essence of our gastronomy with the sweets is defined by the social environment that is created round it. We also have the tradition of going to bake in the oven in Exchange for a part of the sweet, nowadays with money.
How to get there
By car: Baños de la Encina is to 55 km from Jaén. You have to take the exit 288 in the E-4 and continue 6 km by the road JV-5040.
By bus: La Sepulvedana (953 69 36 07) arrives daily from Linares (0, 96 €).
By train: Renfe (902 24 02 02) makes the service Linares-Baeza several times a day.. From Madrid there is a regional service (31, 20 €/round-trip).
Distances from Baños de la Encina
Jaén 55 km
Úbeda 50 km
Bailén 9,5 km
Linares 24 km
Andújar 40 km
El Salcedo 6 km
Mengíbar 30 km
Guarromán 8 km
La Carolina 23 km
Martín Malo 13 km