Andalucia Rustica

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Castles in Jaén

Lopera Castle

Castles in Jaén

Lopera Castle

The Lopera Castle is located in the Castillo Street, near the Tercia House, the Inmaculada Concepción Parish Church, the Paseo de Colón and the Constitución Square where is also located the Town Hall building, in the locality of Lopera, Jaén province, Andalusia.

In Lopera you will fin done of the best examples of a castle built by the Military Order of Calatrava in Jaén province. Declared a Monument of Cultural Interest in 1991, the fortress preserves the original wall , although over the years it has also been used as a residence and even a winery in the mid-20th century.

Restoration work has recovered the Lopera Castle original appearance and prevented the natural decay caused by the passage of time in a fortress that some researches consider to be a crown jewel of defensive architecture. The image that visitors perceive as they go through the main gate facing the current Town Hall is very similar to what was seen by the 13th century citizens. That is when the Order of Calatrava transformed the fortress and erected a new building on the foundations of an Arab fort that protected the inhabitants.

Located in the heart of town, the Lopera Castle, shaped like an irregular pentagon, has two baileys: and outside one, formed by the curtain walls and defended by five towners; and an inside one , where two imposing towers known as San Miguel and Santa Maria stand, joined by two curtain walls. The Tower of San Miguel was used to control the Access to the fortress. A a matter of curiosity, the tower shows signs of the damage caused by an artillery shell during the Spanish Civil War.

The Tower of Santa Maria was the keep. It has town rooms, one above the other. The lower one was transformed into an oratory during the work done in the 16th century to turn the castle into a residence for the nobility. In the 20th century it underwentfor the restoration converted into a livingroom for the proprietor´s family.

Battle of Lopera

A few days following the seizures of Lopera by Franco´s tropos, over the course of 27, 28  and 29 December 1936, a confrontation between Franco´s soldiers and republican forces took place, referred to as the Battle of Lopera, which included the participation o the XIV International Brigade, republican tropos under the command of General Walter (A Pole named Karol Swierczewski), who saw thir attempts to recapture the town frustrated.

During the attacks and counterattacks, the British company within La Marsellaise battalion, led by a captain of Jewish descent, George Montague Nathan, reached the house on the outskirts of the town, but were forced to draw back. Over three hundred republicans were killed, and more than twice that number injured. Following the disastrous outcome of the Battle of Lopera, the French captain Gaston Delasalle, commander of La Marsellaise battlion, was blamed for the defeat and accused of treachery. He was tried by a court-martial in Arjonilla, made up of fifteen individuals from various countries, and executed.

The republican defeat in Lopera was due to the ineptitude of the strategists who launched their attack along a narrow gorge between two heights facing a treeless hill (the hill on which the Lopera Castle stands) where Franco´s troops were entrenched. Trapped between artillery (which fired shells manufactured by Arsenal de Lisboa) and mortars, facing machinegun fire and bombardment from the skies, the attacking brigada was annihilated. The men did not reach the enemy trenches and the companies bécame disorganised. The commanders lost conact with their superiors and with one another. To make matters worse, the men were unable toe at, used up all their ammunition and ended up literally exhausted.

The republicans failed in their attempts to recapture lost towns, but they halted the advance of Franco´s  troops and prevented the enemy from taking control of Andujar and the pass of Despeñaperros, the traditional pathway to Castile.

This machine-gun nest is L-shaped and ends in a semicircle. The lower holes where employed by the machine guns, whilst the gaps in the upper section were used by rifles and automatic weapons and the interior spaces were used to store ammunition.

Lopera Town Hall

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