Jaen – Andalusia
The city of Jaén, capital of the Santo Reino, is located at the foot of the hill called Santa Catalina, crowned by the impressive Castle with the same name, nowadays is a State-run Hotel. From here you can overlook an astonishing outlook over the olive grove open country and the town that enlarges through the slope forming a compact city centre and combining traditional areas with an Arab and Medieval design and monumental areas with modern constructions, in an attractive amalgamate. We can emphasize the impressive Cathedral, a fundamental Renaissance Spanish building work, built by Andrés de Vandelvira.
Among all the monuments in Jaén we can find some of these monuments: the Walls, the Arab Baths, the Church of S. Bartolomé, the Church of S. Ildefonso, the Church of La Magdalena, the Arch of S. Lorenzo, the Chapel of S. Andrés, the Church of S. Juan, the Monastery of Santa Teresa, the Convent of Santo Domingo, of Santa Úrsula, the Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Merced, the Palace of El Condestable Iranzo and the Palace of Villardompardo that has an interesting Art Gallery and Folk Customs and an International Museum of Naive Art.
In the area around, in the surrounding mountain range, we can find the Parque Periurbano of Jaén, a nature reserve due to its environmental and leisure time interest.
Five hundred years with Moslem presence, from the VIII until XIII century, have left a lasting mark in the architecture and town-planning organization in the villages and towns of Jaén.
During the Al-Andalus Age, the Jews who were established in the town live a stillness age where the planning of the Moslem state allow them to assume high-ranking positions. Thanks to them and the mediator role performed, during the Hispano-Arabic Middle Ages it takes place the blossoming of the Sephardic poetry and the music.
During the Arab control the lines of the urban development are set in Jaén, turning into a fortified square that will play an important role in the internal fights in this historic period.
In 1232, Muhammad B. Yusuf b. Al-hamar will be proclaimed king of Jaén until in the spring of 1246 a vassalage pact is established with Fernando III ‘El Santo’, king of Castilla y León, with which he will cede the town in exchange he could keep the Nasrid kingdom of Granada. That moment on, the old Moslem Yayyan will be part of the Castilian crown.
In the XIV century the coexistence between Moslems, Jews and Christians breaks down. The persecution of the religions that are unconnected with Christianity causes the obliged conversion to the Judaism and Islam. This great conversion of religions causes the establishment in Jaén of the third Tribunal of the Inquisition in Spain, Sevilla and Córdoba.
The taking of Granada in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs will mean the definitive expulsion of Moslems and Jews from Spain.
2. Jaén, the medieval and Christian town
In the spring of 1246 and after being subjugated several sieges, Alhamar, Moslem king of Jaén, hands over the town to the king Fernando III, then Jaén fall into the Christian hands.
Fernando III turns the Mosque Aljama into the Christian worship, he orders the construction of a new Christian Fortress (nowadays it is the Castle of Santa Catalina) and that was moved the see from Baeza to Jaén. During this period the town increases its power like capital of the kingdom and bishopric with its name.
Between 1460 and 1473, Jaén is under the command of Miguel Lucas de Iranzo, Condestable de Castilla in the reign of Enrique IV. In the reign of Iranzo a town-planning reform of the old medieval town is carried out, levelling and widening the streets and squares. It starts the construction process of the future renaissance town.
3. Jaén, the modern town
The Spanish renaissance economic age took place during XVI in which Jaén has an important place. The town has a considerable demographic increase in which we can observe that in 1587 Jaén has 22.380 inhabitants and that it is considered like one of the most important in Castilla, with representatives and vote in the Parliament.
The economy in Jaén is based on the cereals harvest that leads to the construction of a big “granary (pósito)” or town grain warehouse, located in the square that nowadays has its name. Not less important are the industry dedicated to tanned leather and handmade sector, one of the most outstanding at the state level.
All these factors consolidate Jaén like the administrative and political capital of the kingdom.
The new Renaissance cathedral is one the constructions where we can observe the artistic splendour of Jaén during this age. It is a cathedral developed by the cardinal Merino and built by the architect Andrés de Vandelvira. Gradually the town is adapted to this new cultural focus and the outskirts of the cathedral turn into the residence area of the artists and of the well-off social classes.
However, at the beginning of XIX century, the War of Independence turns the city into a square with logistics and strategic interest that at the end implies an inevitable economic decline from what Jaén will not recover. The town becomes a provincial capital with a weak economy based on the agrarian activity, the administration and services.
From 1960 Jaén starts a remarkable growth that will transform completely its city centre.
4.- Jaén, an Iberian land
The first proofs about the Iberian existence in Jaén date from VI century B.C.
looking up classical sources, it is known that Jaén was divided under the influence of the oretanos (pre-Roman Iberian or Celtic people) and turdetanos (pre-Roman people of the Iberian Peninsula), territories over which the Romans would establish the limits between the people of Tarragona (tarraconenes) and the people of Andalucía (béticos), although there were found some traces about the existence of a third Iberian independent people, the mentensanos (from the Mentesa).
The archaeological remains found show us the way of life of the people who occupy Jaén. The communal work and the use of public slaves, resulted in a surplus of production that reinvested in the familiar structures and in the oppidum (population settlements) but they also caused many social differences, that we can observe in the different kinds of funerary remains found (some with more wealth than other) and in the remains of the oppidum, which prove that some were dominators and other were dominated.
According to the studies made by the historians, Oretania, region of the oretanos, would occupy the northern part of Jaén, whereas La Bastetania, to which the turdetanos came from, should occupy the southern areas.
Convent and Cloister of Santo Domingo
Church of San Andrés and Santa Capilla
Parish Church of La Merced.
Convent of Los Misioneros del Corazón de Jesús
Church of San Bartolomé
Raudal de la Magdalena
Palace of Villadompardo
Church of San Juan
Arch of San Lorenzo
Convent of Santa Úrsula
Palace of El Obispo San Martín
Fountain of Los Caños
Convent of Jesuitas
Cathedral of Jaén
Convent of Santa Clara
Church of La Magdalena
Real Monasterio de Santa Clara
Convento Carmelitas Descalzas
Convent of Religiosas Dominicas
Hospital of San Juan de Dios
Arch of San Lorenzo
Arch of El Consuelo
Official Conservatory of Música
Cross to the Castle of Santa Catalina
Cross to the Pósito
El lagarto de Jaén
Monument to Las Batallas
Monument to the poet Antonio Almendros Aguilar
Monument to Bernardo López García
Monument to Bernabé Soriano
Monument to Justino Flores
Monument to Jacinto Higueras
Fountain of La Magdalena
Fountain of Los Caños
Fountain of El Arrabalejo
Fountain of La Merced
Fountain of La Alameda
The Fountain of El Pato
The fountains of The Square of San Bartolomé
Palace of Don Fernando de Torres y Portugal
Casino Primitivo – Palacio del Condestable
Palace of Los Quesada – Ulloa
Palace of Los Vélez
Palace of Los Covaleda–Nicuesa
Palace of Los Vilches
Gastronomy in Jaén
Jaén is the greater olive oil producer in Spain. It is famous in the peninsula from the Roman Age; it is an ingredient that, from antiquity, has been an essential element in the jiennense cuisine.
Between the culinary peculiarities of Jaén, we have to emphasize the vegetables that are present in many dishes because the vegetable garden is a common element in the entire region. The gazpacho (an Andalusian cold soup) is cooked with tomato, onion, cucumber, bread and in some cases with apple; and also a delicious pipirrana. The jiennense vegetable garden supplies aubergines, peas, lettuces, broad beans, wild asparagus… that grilled and with some drops of oil we have a delicious jiennense roast. The alboronía or almoronía (grilled aubergines with potatoes, tomato, pepper and dried beans), is an Arab dish. With the mushrooms, we can taste delicious soups. We have to emphasize the stews with chards and spinaches, the beans with partridge, the stew, the fried breadcrumbs, the ajoharina, the palmeras beans and the carmelitano stew.
Meat and fish
In Jaén we can find a superb meat, above all the game. The small game, partridge, rabbit, hare…, and the big animals, like the wild boar, roe deer, fallow deer, or deer, are the basis on the cuisine in La Sierra de Cazorla. You have to taste the excellent kid with garlic, or the cabañil (garlic, parsley, vinegar) kid. In the province we can find some excellent meat industries, devoted to the processing of pork meat. With Córdoba, it shares the flamenquín, a rolled up steak with a strip of ham inside, breaded and fried that surprises due to the good result of the combination of the tastes. The lack of fish is Jaén is compensated with the excellent cod that roasted and in the style of Baeza, with pine kernels, peas and sweet peppers, represents an interesting speciality.
Jaén is famous because of its top-quality fruit, cherries, morello cherries, peaches, albérchigos (apricots), pears, apples, quinces, persimmons, figs, early figs, melons and watermelons are a healthy and delicious way of putting a full stop to an excellent meal. Another choice is tasty any of the specialities of the jiennense confectionery, that are cooked in convents and baker’s shops: delights of sesame, hojaldres, marzipans, sponge cakes, buns (made with lard) or honey-coated fritters, that are able to make you the mouth water.
The olive cultivation has made progress at the expense of the vineyard; Jaén has excellent soups, like the ones of Torreperogil, Bailén, Lopera and Frailes. And to make the digestions easier we can recommend the anisette and the Risolí, liquor with Arab origin that consists of a mixture of coffee and anisette.
How to get there
- From Madrid you have to take the Motorway N-IV until Bailén (291 km). In Bailén you have to take the N-323 (Motorway Bailén-Granada) until Jaén (42 km).
- From Granada you have to take the N-323, Motorway Bailén-Granada (93 km).
- From Córdoba take the N-IV (30 km), you have to turn off N-324 towards El Carpio, Bujalance, Porcuna, Torredonjimeno and Jaén. (80 km)
- From Albacete take the N-322 until Úbeda (208 km) and N-321 from Úbeda until Jaén. (59 km)
Jaén has good connections with the main Spanish capitals through regular buses lines. Besides, its bus station is located in the centre of the town.
To Córdoba 108 km
To Sevilla 232 km
To Huelva 322 km
To Granada 91 km
To Málaga 173 km
To Almería 205 km
To Cádiz 325 km
To Madrid 335 km
To Murcia 311 km