Andalucia Rustica

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Castles in Jaén

Giribaile Castle

Castles in Jaén

Giribaile Castle – Vilches

The Giribaile Castle is located in the municipality of Vilches, province of Jaén, in Andalusia, Spain.

Giribaile is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Spain. The remains of the original Iberian settlement are located in a stunning natural landscape that also boasts many caves dug into the rock. A medieval castle, built by the Almohads in the 9th century, undoubtedly stood here.

Scenery, culture, heritage, history, nature and hiking converge in Giribaile, where traces of the peoples and cultures that have lived here over the centuries can still be found. Next to the remains of the castle, travellers can also see the ruins of the great wall that encircled the Iberian oppidum of Orisia, an important city in a strategic location on the road that linked Cástulo and the east. Orisia was abandoned after being razed by the Romans during the Sertorian wars. The numerous caves scattered on the sides of the hill known as the Cuevas de Espeluca, are also intriguing. Some were used as religious sanctuaries during the Iberian period. For centuries, successive peoples used the caves for varios purposes. Theinhabitants of Vilches even used them as houses and shelters for livestock until relatively recently.

The ruins of Giribaile Castle can be seen for many miles in every direction. Access to the fortress is complicated. At best, getting there involves driving along several kilometres of dirt road. Once they draw near, travellers can climb a narrow path dug into the rock or follow and old cobbled road that leads to the summit. The first thing that draws attention when arriving at the top is the stunning landscape, the ruins of the wall that protected the fort and the two towers that are still standing. The towers show overlapping structures from various periods and are joined by a small barbican.

Legends grew up around Giribaile after it was conquered by Fernando III and occupied by the Christians. They tell the story of the lord of the castle, Gil Baile or Gil Baylo de Cabrero, from whom the castle gets its name. It is said that the king granted the lord all the land that could be discerned from the castle´s tallest tower. This promted the lord to build and inordinately tall tower, with a tablet at the foot of it that read: “All is mine, from river to river. I´m the lord of Giribaile, who will die neither of thirst or hunger”. One day, the lord of Giribaile lost his way during a hunt, fell into the shaft of an abandoned mine and could not climb out. They found his body months later. Curiously enough, the lord of Giribaile had died of thirst and hunger….

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