In this Spanish province you will find the most – and most beautiful – castles

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish castles - La Iruela 

ANDALUCIA – In total, Jaén has 237 special buildings. This includes 97 castles, 126 watchtowers and bunkers, and dozens of other fortress walls and fortresses. This province is home to the most – and the most beautifulcastles and fortresses in all of Spain. 

Since it is impossible to show them all 237, we have put together a small selection of the some of most impressive castles and fortresses that can be found in the Spanish province of Jaén. This immediately provides inspiration for people who would like to see Andalucia in a different way. 

Each of these castles has its own unique history and architectural style, and offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Alcaudete 

Castle Alcaudete is located on a hill at an altitude of 713 metres in the town of the same name. The castle was built by the Arabs over the remains of a previous Roman fortress and taken by the Christians in 1085 during the reign of Alfonso VI. The castle continued to change hands over the next 300 years. It was re-built in the 12th century by the Moors until the Christians took it back during the 14th century. After the Christian conquest, it was rebuilt and expanded, and was used as a military fortress during the 16th century.

Today the castle is open to the public and has a museum where the castle´s history can be viewed. 

Segura de la Sierra 

In this commune of Jaén, the castle of Segura de la Sierra was built during the Muslim period. Later, the castle was rebuilt and became the residence of the Grand Master of the Order of Santiago in the late 15th century. After this time, everyone moved out of the castle, it stood empty for hundreds of years and was only restored around 1960. However, today it is a historic public building where, among other things, cultural activities are organised. 

Canena 

This palatial castle was commissioned by the high-ranking official Francisco de los Cobos under Emperor Charles V. The Renaissance building dates back to the 17th century and has a beautiful balustraded courtyard with Ionic columns all around. At the front, the round towers protect the main facade of the castle. 

Castillo de Sabiote

This castle is located in the town of Sabiote, and was built in the 13th century. The castle played an important role during the Christian reconquest, and was later used as a residential palace by the noble families of the town.

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La Iruela 

Built in the 14th century, this Andalucian fortress is located on a rock called El Picacho, in the town of the same name, La Iruela. Inside are ruins of the Church of Santo Domingo. The castle was used as a fortress during the Muslim occupation of the region, and later served as a defensive stronghold during the Christian reconquest. Although, it is quite a small fortress, its location overlooking the Guadalquivir River, makes it very spectacular. In the past, this special location made it difficult to conquer the fortress. The view from the tower is impressive, to say the least. 

Banos de la Encina 

The castle of Baños de la Encina is a building from the 10th century, during the time of the Caliphate of Cordoba. The castle was expanded in the 13th and 14th centuries, and played an important role during the Christian reconquest of the region. This is the second oldest of all castles in Europe and is one of the best-preserved fortresses from the Muslim period in Spain. The castle was declared a national monument in 1931 and is surrounded by a wall with fourteen towers. 

Castillo de la Yedra in Cazorla 

From a height of 831 metres, you have a view of Cazorla and the beautiful surroundings of the castle. The building dates from the Berber period and contains a mixture of both the Islamic style and Christian elements that give the castle a Gothic character. 

Alcala la Real 

This concerns the fortress of La Mota which is located in Alcalá la Real and is located at an altitude of 1,029 metres. The fortress dates from the 13th and 14th centuries although some elements are older. The complex is no less than 145,000 square metres and in the Middle Ages, an entire city was even built in the fortress. Three of the seven gates are still visible, as is the wall system. The underground galleries dug under the rocks are also visible to the public. 

Castillo de Santa Catalina

Located in the city of Jaén, the Castillo de Santa Catalina was built in the 13th century on a hill overlooking the city. The castle was expanded in the 16th century, and today it serves as a popular tourist attraction, offering stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Castillo de Hornos

Located in the town of Hornos, this castle was built in the 13th century on a hill overlooking the town. The castle was used as a defensive stronghold during the Muslim occupation, and later served as a strategic military fortification during the Christian reconquest.

Also read: After visiting the castles, you can enjoy tapas during your visit to Jaén

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