Hello there ladies and gentlemen! That's right, today I'm going to be telling you about Jaén, one of the least known regions of Andalucía when it comes to tourists and foreigners. Jaen is less than an hour's drive away from Granada and it is limited to the north by the Sierra of Despeñaperros (a mountain range), which separates Andalucía from Castilla La Mancha -the land of Don Quijote and Sancho. It has been a land of turmoil and distress through the years for geographical reasons that I'll explain in just a minute: the scenario of unforgettable battles that determined the fate of Spain and Europe as a whole, attracting the interest of uncountable historical figures, including not too long ago French statesman Charles de Gaulle - cover picture credits @ m-martinez
In Jaén you'll find a side to Spain and to Andalucía not much like the one we're used to. This peculiar region, which happens to be the greatest oil producer in the country, has everything we like about Spain: flamenco, tapas, friendly people, a warm atmosphere, with the particularity of being situated in a strategic geographical location that made it the frontier between the Islamic dynasty in Granada and the southward-pushing christian kingdom of Castille for over 250 years.
As you drive through Jaén you'll mostly find gentle slopes and fields filled with olive trees all the way until the horizon, yet the north of the region is very mountainous and fertile. Despeñaperros is a pass through those mountains and it leads to the northern region of Castilla-La-Mancha. Because of the strategic importance of Despeñaperros many decisive battles have taken place in Jaén, such as the Battle of the Navas de Tolosa (1212), according to the History Channel one of the greatest battles in history.
The capital city of the region is likewise called Jaén, and it's situated in one of the mountainous parts of its land. The Alcázar, an ancient Moorish citadel turned into a Parador, splendidly dominates the view of the whole city. French general Charles de Gaulle spent several months in the Alcázar (now called Santa Catalina castle) writing his mémoirs after his first visit to Jaén in the year 1970, in which the beauty and peacefulness of the place left him astounded.
Other than having a great variety of culturally rich and historical cities (such as Bailén, Úbeda, Baeza), Jaén is also a region with a great array of natural parks and landscapes to surprise even the most demanding naturalists out there. I'll soon dedicate a whole article on the Sierra de Cazorla (seen in the picture below) and several of the mentioned cities, so stay tuned for more about this wonderful Andalusian region, with loads for you to discover!
Here are also some of the resorts and hotels you could be going to when visiting the Sierra:
And some other mentioned places within the region that I'll soon be letting you know more about:
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