Hear about travel to the Jaén province of Andalucia Spain as the Amateur Traveler talks to Molly Sears-Piccavey who lives in Andalucia.
Molly says, “Jaén is a province in western Andalucia that is not really very known or associated with tourism. If we take southern Spain the western side of Andalucia which is Granada, Cordoba, Jaén, and Almería are not as touristic perhaps as the side of Andalucia which is where Malaga and Seville are. Cordoba and Granada are very well visited because of their Muslim architecture such as the mosque or their Alhambra Palace, but Jaén is inland and a little bit further away. And many people don’t manage to discover Jaén and I think Jaén has a lot to offer the visitor.”
“The thing that sticks out most in my head is the olive trees. It’s the place in Europe with most density of olive trees, and they produce obviously a lot of olive oil. When you travel to Jaén, Wherever you look, you’re just seeing olive trees and even on the road to Jaén as well as just olive trees as far as you can see. It’s also a place that has a massive amount of castles and fortresses. They claim to be the place with the most castles in Europe. Burgalimar which is in Baños de la Encina is the oldest castle in Europe and it’s so worth visiting.”
“They call Jaén the land of battles and castles but I think they’re missing the olive oil so it should be battles, castles, and olive oil.”
For over 200 years, Jaén was the border between Catholic Spain and Moorish Spain, hence the number of castles and the walled hilltop towns.
Molly starts us in the capital of Jaén province which is the city of Jaén. We start in the beautiful cathedral of Jaén which may look familiar as it was used as a model for many cathedrals in the new world. It is proposed as a UNESCO site because of this significance.
We then climb the hill for a view of the city to the Castle of Santa Catalina and the Parador of Jaén (the national hotel chain) which sit side by side with a view of the city and of the 65 million olive trees in the distance.
The other stop you should make in Jaén is the Arab Bathes which are the largest of the old hammams from the Moorish rule. They sit below the palace of an ex-Viceroy to Peru which houses an art museum and a history museum.
We move from Jaén across the valley to the twin towns of Úbeda and Baeza which are a joint UNESCO site for their buildings built in the Spanish Renaissance style. Úbeda has a number of old buildings around a large square (Vázquez de Molina Square) including an old palace which is now a Parador. There is also an ornate funerary chapel for one of the more distinguished families of Úbeda, and the Basílica de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares church.
Baeza is an old University town. The old university is now the high school but one of the old palaces has been turned into a new international university. Baeza has a quieter whitewashed Andalucian town feel with small streets and flower boxes.
Molly also recommends visiting Baños de la Encina and the Burgalimar Castle as well as Alcalá la Real and its Fortaleza de La Mota. These cities were even closer to the border with Moorish Grenada so they had the more significant fortifications.
Jaén also has 4 natural parks with a variety of activities including hiking, but Molly who leads food tours focuses us more on places we can get a great meal.
Jaén is a beautiful region of Spain that deserves more tourism than it gets… but you might not want to visit in the heat of the summer as I did recently on a press trip.
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Spain Food Sherpas Tours
Undiscovered Spain – The Jaén Province of Andalucia
Province of Jaén (Spain)
Border of Granada
Parador de Jaén
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park
Restaurante La Alcuza (Pegalajar)
Castle of Santa Catalina (Jaén)
Arab Baths of Jaén
Museo Internacional Arte Naïf
Vázquez de Molina Square
Parador of Ubeda
Basílica de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares
Hotel Palacio De Úbeda
Sinagoga del Agua
Palacio de Vela de los Cobos
Plaza del Populo
University of Baeza
Palace of Jabalquinto
Alcalá la Real
Fortaleza de La Mota
Baños de la Encina
Cherry Festival in Castillo de Locubin
Vandalvide Restaurant, Baeza
Taberna El Pajaro, Baeza
Patron Jeff commented on Travel to the South of Iceland – Amateur Traveler Episode 802
The South Iceland episode brought back so many memories of Iceland. One of my memories was the homes to the “hidden people” (gnomes, elves etc.) which are rock piles where the roads are built around. One fun activity I enjoyed was dog sledding on Myrdalsjokull Glacier. Finally, a visit to the Westmann Islands is great but you might consider a sightseeing flight of Surtsey Island. This island emerged in a volcanic eruption in November 1963 from under the ocean. I don’t know if it still holds the designation of being the newest island on earth to be created. It’s a scientific reserve with access by permit only, so a sightseeing flight is the only way to see it. They are researching plant and animal life colonizing the island. An added bonus was also the views of Iceland’s countryside and coast from the air including the Westmann Islands.
Forgot to comment about the hot dogs. Icelanders like their hot dogs (pylsa). You can get them
everywhere, bacon wrapped etc. The best dog in Reykjavik is at Baejarins Beztu a small 10×10 shack made famous by then President Clinton stopping by and having a hot dog. It’s the “Pink’s” of Reykjavik.
Russetts via Apple Podcasts · Great Britain · 05/18/22
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