Jaen Tourist Attractions
Jaén, chief town of its province and an old-established episcopal see, lies at the foot of the Sierra de Jabalcuz and Sierra de la Pandera, the slopes of which, to the south of the town, are covered with large plantations of olives. The province of Jaén is one of the largest olive-growing areas in the world.HistoryThere was a Carthaginian walled town here which was captured by the Romans and given the name of Auringis. The local silver-mines were already being worked in Roman times, and the town is still known as "silver Jaén". During the Moorish period it was capital of the kingdom of Jayyan, and after its recapture by Ferdinand III in 1246 it became an outpost of the Reconquista. In 1492 the Christian armies assembled here for the assault on Granada, the last Arab stronghold on the Iberian peninsula.
Castillo de Santa Catalina
On a ridge to the west of Jaén stands the Castillo de Santa Catalina which occupies the site of a Moorish stronghold and which was captured in 1246 by Ferdinand III; it is now a Parador Nacional. It is best reached by car on a road signposted to the parador (5km/3mi). When approaching from the old town remains of the old defensive walls can still be seen, and from the top of the hill, towering up like the prow of a ship, there is a viewpoint (not for the fainthearted) marked with a cross, which offers a magnificent panorama of the town and the surrounding olive groves.
On an elevation in the Old Town of Jaén, rising out of a tangle of narrow streets on the site of an earlier mosque, stands the massive cathedral (16th-19th centuries) which was begun by Andrés de Vandelvira in 1500. The west front is flanked by two towers and has a carving of the Madonna by Pedro Roldán as well as figures of rulers and saints.
Opening hours: 8:30am-1pm, 4pm-7pm; Sun: 8:30am-1:30pm, 4pm-7pm
Cathedral - Interior
The most notable features of the interior of the cathedral in Jaén are the fine 15th century choir-stalls and - in a shrine by the high altar - the "napkin of St Veronica", with which the saint is said to have wiped Christ's face on the way to Calvary.
Cathedral - Chapel
In a chapel nearby the Jaén Cathedral, on the left, is an almost kitschy representation of Christ carrying the Cross, and on the right the entrance to the chapterhouse with retablo-painting by Pedro Machuca.
Cathedral - Museum
The Jaén Cathedral Museum, in the sacristy, displays pictures and church utensils and ornaments, including a large silver monstrance.
Northwest of the cathedral in Jaén is the former Moorish old town of La Magdalena, at the foot of the hill.
Past the La Magdelena is the Palacio Villardompado, underneath which an extensive 11th century Arab bathing establishment was discovered. The palace itself contains a museum of art and folk traditions.
Capilla de San Andrés
East from the Arab baths in Jaén is the Capilla de San Andrés, founded in 1515 by Gutiérrez González Doncel, treasurer to Popes Leo X and Clement VII, which is believed to occupy the site of a former synagogue. In the Capilla de la Purísima can be seen a statue of the Virgin (Andalusian school) and a painting of the Virgen del Pópulo. There is also a very fine choir screen by a local master named Bartolomé.
Iglesia de la Magdalena
Past the Convento de Santo Domingo lies the church of La Magdalena; built on the site of an Arab mosque this is probably the oldest church in Jaén. It has a Late Gothic doorway and a fine retablo, but especially a beautiiful patio. Opposite the church can be seen the ''Raudal de la Magdalena'', a fine fountain which was used by the Romans.
Monasterio de Santa Clara
Near the Plaza de los Caños to the north of the cathedral, stands the 13th century Monasterio de Santa Clara, the oldest sacral building in Jaén. It has a beautiful cloister and a fine figure of Christ, the "Cristo de Bambú".
The busy New Town of Jaén begins to the north of the cathedral near the Plaza de la Constitución, with its main axis the Paseo de la Estación.
In the Paseo de la Estación of Jaén, in buildings dating from 1920 is housed the Museo Provincial with the art gallery on the first floor and an archeological section on the ground floor. The most interesting exhibits are a Roman mosaic and Iberian sculpture.
Address: Paseo de la Estación 27, E-23008 Jaén, Spain
Opening hours: 9am-8pm; Sun: 9am-3pm; Tue: 3pm-8pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Andalusia Day - Spain (Feb 28), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), National Day - Spain (Oct 12), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Constitution Day - Spain (Dec 6), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Monday after the Immaculate Conception - Spain (Dec 9), Maundy (Holy) Thursday - Christian, Easter - Christian, Good Friday - Christian
Entrance fee: FREE
There are palaces and mansions of important families on the many squares in Jaén.