Southern Mountain

The Sierra Sur, as a borderland with the Nasrid kingdom of Granada, has a strong military mark, which is reflected in the many important castles that exist in it; but also as a reconquered territory it had to be equipped, above all with churches, already in the 16th century, of classical construction. The Renaissance is therefore again renewing the city and with it the names of Vandelvira, Castillo "El Mozo" (here more active than in other parts of the province) and Martínez de Aranda, in addition to the presence of teachers from Granada, given the proximity and easy communication between both territories through Alcalá la Real. Our route is structured around the N-321 highway, (in its first section A-316), a traditional way of communication with Granada.


We leave Jaén on the A-316 to find 8 kms. this active town, which counts as its most precious heritage asset within the nucleus the parish church of San Bartolomé, a temple with a basilica plan within the most common typology of three naves covered with vaulted vaults imposed by Vandelvira, although its author is Francisco del Castillo "El Mozo", architect closely linked to the Order of Calatrava.
In its environment, the hermitage of Santa Ana, in the Cerro de Miguelico, where important Iberian remains have been found. The Pilgrimage is celebrated there on the first Sunday in May.


Next to Torredelcampo, the town of Jamilena was also the domain of the Order of Calatrava and in the same way the construction of a new temple in the middle of the 16th century, constitutes the most significant landmark: The Church of the Incarnation, also projected by Castillo "el Mozo ”, although it was renovated and completed in the first quarter of the 17th century. The cover of the feet is the most prominent element.


At the same time we return to the A-316 from Jamilena, we turn off to the next town of Torredonjimeno, which is not administratively included in the Sierra Sur region, but is considered to be the bridgehead to the Campiña and therefore the initiator of another route. . Despite its history and its art is so closely linked to the rest, always by the common denominator of the Order of Calatrava, that we do not see any inconvenience in the traveler coming to visit its historic center around the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, which shows a Cabildo building one of the oldest in the Province (1630) with a magnificent, very classic balcony. Near it, the church of San Pedro, an interesting sample of classicist architecture with Mudejar elements and a fresco painted vault, an architectural project for Castillo “El Mozo” and the fresco paintings by the painter Luis Ureña, made in 1597.

The main temple is the church of Santa María, begun earlier in the early 16th century, but in a late Gothic style, although with baroque chapels from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The same occurs with the church of the Convent of La Piedad, of the Dominican Order in its female branch, contemporary with the previous church, although here its exterior portal is from an early Renaissance. To highlight its baroque altarpiece with Solomonic columns, dated 1728.

Surrounded by various hermitages, among which the Ermita de la Consolación stands out, Torredonjimeno attests to being an important religious center since ancient times, as revealed by the fact that one of the two greatest Visigoth treasures in Spain, the so-called Treasure of Torredonjimeno, today dismembered in different collections.

More information


Close to Torredonjimeno, with which it keeps close historical parallels since ancient times, it acquired greater political prominence in the Middle Ages when it became head of the Vicarage of the Order of Calatrava. However, in its subsoil there are all the stages of history with very brilliant pieces, such as the early Christian sarcophagus, today in the Provincial Museum of Jaén. However, it will be the 16th century, under the government of Commander Pedro Aboz, when it reaches its greatest urban and monumental splendor, having as a faithful architect Francisco del Castillo "El Mozo", recently arrived from Rome in 1556.

The transformation of the Renaissance Martos, taking its Roman past as a guide, has its precedent in Francisco Delicado's novel, La Lozana andaluza, in which a chapter is dedicated to recounting the ancient and mythological greatness of this, his hometown. The center of action is located in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, with the construction of the Prison and Cabildo building, with the most Italianate of all the facades that can be seen in Jaén and part of Andalusia, the work of Castillo. This same architect raised the upper body of the tower of the church of Santa Marta, the old Gothic temple, in the same square; Temple to which the Chapel of Jesus was added in the 17th century, with important paintings by the Baroque artist, Antonio Reinoso. For the center of this space he even made a free-standing fountain topped by the figure of Neptune, which is not preserved. But in the new park built a few years ago, on the outskirts of the city, you can see, moved from its original site, a monumental Fountain, of the pillar type, also the work of Castillo “El Mozo”.

Not far from this square we find the huge temple of Santa María de la Villa, rebuilt after the last war over the previous Renaissance one, also traced by Castillo.

A tour of all this environment allows us to admire the powerful tower of the Castillo de la Villa, next to the previous church. Below the Town Hall, the Convent of the Trinitarians, a work from the late 16th century, and in the same street, but in the opposite direction, the Hospital de San Juan de Dios, of Baroque invoice from the 18th century. All this upper part of the historic center within the walls is very picturesque and from it you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views.

Descending to the lower part of the city, and next to the old road N-321, some magnificent Villas of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries survive, within the historicist and some modernist eclecticism, testimonies of the industrial development that the city had and that he still maintains.

More information


Following our route, the next stop is Alcaudete, about 25 km from Martos. A stately town since the fourteenth century when it passed into the hands of the Fernández de Córdoba.

The town extends at the foot of its formidable medieval castle, recently restored, bringing to light important transformations carried out in the 16th century. Declared a Historic Monument in 1985, today it is one of the best restored and studied castles in Jaén.

The modern vehicle access allows you to easily reach the castle and the church of Santa María. This is the largest temple in Alcaudete, in the heart of the "town", today quite depopulated and almost abandoned. Begun around the first third of the sixteenth century, it did not end until the beginning of the seventeenth century, still Gothic forms followed with an overflowing "plateresque" or early renaissance, on the covers, and a sober classicism on its head and tower. Vandelvira, Castillo "El Mozo" and Martín de Bolívar participated in it. Magnificent are the doors of the sacristy, carved with classicist reliefs. It also has some baroque carvings from the s. XVIII very meritorious. The church is a National Monument since 1931.

Outside the historic fence, in what was already a suburb, another good church was built in the second half of the 16th century: San Pedro, the work of Castillo “el Mozo”, within the type of temple with a square plan separated by pillars and covered with vaulted vaults, extremely sober and elegant.

Also noteworthy are the conventual Temples of Carmen (Discalced Carmelites), Santa Clara (Poor Clares) and of Jesús y María (Franciscanas) and the cemetery chapel, the old Hermitage of Santa Catalina, with very interesting eschatological paintings from the 16th century.

The Town Hall Square is the nerve center presided over by the Town Hall building, with a good baroque façade from the 18th century, and the old Ermita de la Aurora, today transformed into a bar and home.

Christmas sweets are nationally famous, in particular puff pastry, as well as canned vegetables, thanks to the splendid meadows, as well as famous are their fruits, of which an annual contest is held on the occasion of the September Fair.

Also noteworthy is its Holy Week with the staging of "Stop Abraham", an ancient tradition, and the steps with some carvings of great merit: Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno and San Elías, both in the church of Carmen.

More information

Castillo de Locubín

We leave Alcaudete, on the way to Alcalá la Real, along the new route of the N-342, but before arriving we leave it to continue along the old one on the detour to Castillo de Locubín, which is in the valley, admiring the beautiful panoramic view as a whole from the road before descending.
Apart from some Roman and medieval remains, the Renaissance interest of this town lies in its church of San Pedro, simple, with a nave, but very good stonework, designed by Alonso Barba, with a classicist doorway from the early Baroque, the work of Juan de Aranda Salazar, hometown of this interesting 17th-century architect, Master Master of the Cathedral of Jaén, a descendant of the outstanding family of the Martínez de Aranda family, stonemasons from Baezan who settled in Castillo de Locubín at the end of the 16th century.
It is highly recommended to visit it in May to enjoy its famous cherries and also its pastries.

Alcalá la Real

A frontier city par excellence, closer to Granada than to Jaén, it was a strategic enclave in the war against the Nasrid after its conquest in 1341 by Alfonso XI. Previously, it had been for the Muslims, since the time of the Taifa kingdoms (11th century) when the Banu Said family became strong in it. Alfonso XI made Alcalá a Royal Abbey independent of the neighboring dioceses, less than Toledo. This made Alcalá a strong, rich and important place, embedded in the hill of La Mota, where the original city developed until well into the s. XVI. Later it expanded towards the old part, the "Llanillo", where the modern Alcalá is developed.

In La Mota, from where you can see Granada, part of the Córdoba countryside and the entire southern Sierra de Jaén, we have the medieval fortress with an imposing Torre del Homenaje, in which we can see a historical Museum of Alcalá and the abbey church of Santa María, mostly Renaissance work carried out throughout the sixteenth century and part of the following, recently rebuilt; the part of the feet is the oldest and on the contrary the headboard the most modern. The Masters Martín de Bolívar and Ambrosio Vico, responsible for most of the work, reveal the influence of Granada in its construction, but in the end there will be Ginés Martínez de Aranda, a Baezano master based in Castillo de Locubín, and a trusted architect of Abbot Maximiliano of Austria, who In the last decade of the 16th century, he worked on this and other fortification works in Mota itself, before leaving with the Abbot for Cádiz and later on to Santiago de Compostela, where he would design the famous Obradoiro staircase in the cathedral. An antecedent of these small-scale stairs can be seen in the Casas de Cabildo, a classicist building, next to the church.

Descending towards the new city, the old church of Santo Domingo, is the first and oldest, today in ruins, of Gothic design, although with a sacristy from the end of the 16th century, within the Vandelvirian tradition.

A little further down, already in the upper part of the new Alcalá, the church of San Juan Bautista, also dates from the end of the 16th century (the oldest: the Chapel of La Concepción, by Ginés Martínez de Aranda), ending in the century XVII, within the classical severity.

Now, in the heart of the Llanillo ”, the Town Hall Square marks the nerve center of a city laid out with straight streets, presided over by the Cabildo building, a work from the second third of the 18th century, but finished under the neoclassical taste of the Academy. Famous is its Clock, dated 1791, by the famous watchmaker Fernando de Tapia y Castillo. Inside there is a portrait of Fernando VII, by Vicente López; the banner of the city, embroidered, and a series of religious paintings by the local painter Luis de Melgar (18th century) and a “death of the Magdalena”, attributed to Bocanegra.

Next to it, Bordador Street reminds us of the place where the famous sculptor Juan Martinez Montañés was born, of which there is a sculptural monument in the Plaza, the work of Jacinto Higueras.

Placing ourselves in the main artery that runs through “El Llanillo”, the Carrera de las Mercedes, we will find the most important monumental landmarks as well as a set of remarkable historicist houses from the beginning of the 20th century. At the beginning of the street, the Convent of Consolación, at the end of Calle Real that descends from La Mota, houses the image of the patron saint of Alcalá: the Virgen de las Mercedes, in a baroque temple with good altarpieces from the 18th century and a sacristy with a polygonal plan, which, like the old cloister, known as the “Toril”, is the work of Juan de Aranda Salazar.

A little further on, the Convent of the Incarnation, a 17th-century work, of simple construction, but which keeps an interesting artistic collection at its closure, especially of baroque Children Jesus. Next to it, the Abbey Palace, from 1781, a classicist baroque work, typical of that final stage of the 18th century, and much restored since the second half of the 20th century, today houses an interesting Museum of the city.

Upon arriving at the Paseo de los Álamos, where the gateway to the city from Granada was located, we find an exceptional piece of the Renaissance: Pilar de los Álamos, attached to the beginning of the street of its name, whose fantastic reliefs of excellent quality They are related to the sculptural work of the Granada Renaissance, in the line of the Italian Jacopo Florentino and Diego de Siloe.

In front of the pillar, the Church of San Antón, hides in its exterior volume an oval plan, also the result of the classicist baroque that dominated the city in the last third of the 18th century and of which the Church of Las Angustias is also a good example, in the homonymous street, parallel to the main one. This church also keeps part of the Renaissance painting altarpiece of the church of Santo Domingo, the work of the painter Juan Ramirez, and others attributed to the local painter Melchor de Raxis, a descendant of a family of artists who came from Sardinia, and to which another illustrious imaginer would belong. : Pablo de Rojas.

Interesting and recommended is a tour of the eastern edge of the city, from the Hermitage of San Marcos, which preserves part of its 16th century layout, to that of La Verónica, crowning the hill in front of La Mota, with an excellent panoramic view of the fortress and the city.

To recharge our batteries, the gastronomy of Alcalá offers us through its catering offer a good assortment of tapas and unique dishes, among which the “chicken to the secretary” has achieved singular fame.

And among the cultural events that have crossed provincial boundaries, is Etnosur, a festival of music from around the world with an attractive complementary program of recreational and educational activities, which is held in the month of July. Worth seeing is also the Alcalá Holy Week declared of Tourist Interest in Andalusia.

Also very peculiar are in Alcalá la Real its villages, which extend in a nearby radius around five or ten kilometers, of great scenic beauty and even with monumental pieces worthy of review, such as Santa Ana, with its 16th century church with a siloesque portal, or La Pedriza, with a good baroque altarpiece.

We can spend the night both in Alcalá and in one of the rural accommodations that these surrounding villages offer us before embarking on the return trip to Jaén or continuing the visit in Alcalá.

The return will take us through the wild Sierra Sur de Jaén, another "natural paradise", this less known one, in which we will find those villas that were colonization settlements in the 16th century, after the war with the Nasrid to repopulate this border line.

We can take the path from Santa Ana towards Frailes or leaving Alcalá on the A-403 and at the height of the village of Ribera Baja, take the detour, JV-4302, which leads to Frailes, passing by the villages of Ribera Baja and Ribera Alta.

More information


Picturesque mountain town with magnificent views, famous for its water, its wine and its gastronomy. The church of Santa Lucía, has its starting point in a very simple 16th century construction of which it keeps its structure of a single nave covered with a pair of armor and a row of Mudejar tradition and a presbytery separated by a central stone arch, but later enlarged and reformed in the 18th century. A highlight inside is a baptismal font, brought from the church of La Mota de Alcalá la Real.

We leave Frailes following the JV-2262 road that leads us to Valdepeñas de Jaén.

Valdepeñas de Jaén

One of the nuclei of repopulation carried out in the 16th century (1539), together with Campillo de Arenas, Los Villares and Mancha Real, soon reached the title of Villa and that of City in 1917. Its broad municipal term covers the heart of the Sierra Sur with various hiking routes in which to appreciate tree species of great rarity in Andalusia such as the yew forest in the area of ??"Pitillos" or the good specimens of ancient gall oaks. Wood, the main source of wealth for a long time for the manufacture of coal, also made glass industries possible, which achieved a certain popularity during the 17th century.

In what is the historic center, the orthogonal layout of the streets that extend in the flattest part of the site, in the plot formed by the longitudinal axes of the Bahondillo / Animas streets, should draw our attention; Real / Cruces y Parras with its narrower cross sections. Calle Real connects the two most important squares, La Constitución and San Juan, where the City Hall and the parish church of Santiago are located. The latter links us again with the rich series of Renaissance temples with three naves separated by pillars and covered with vaulted vaults, decorated in this case with a profusion of plasterwork scallops in allusion to the titular saint. The church derived from Vandelvian models, we think it is closer to the personal style of Castillo "El Mozo".

On a tour of the city we see some classicist-style facades, although already from the 16th and 17th centuries, including the one that was the Bishop's residence, on the street of the same name.

But of the highest interest is the visit to the Flour Mill, on Santa Ana Street, converted into a Museum by preserving its machinery and rooms, which explain this very important economic activity and provide precise information on agrarian culture.

On the outskirts, coming from Frailes, we find a modern Park, "El Chorrillo", which takes advantage of the natural water stream with very good design. Going up it takes us to an absolutely spectacular place: Las Chorreras, a natural waterfall of enormous beauty.

At 5 km Chircales, it is a famous place among the residents of Valdepeñas and other places for its miracle worker Cristo de Chircales or “del arroz” and the pilgrimage held on the first Sunday in May, in a natural setting that was also very beautiful and that had to be oratory or refuge of Mozarabs in the High Middle Ages.

We must not leave Valdepeñas without enjoying its mountain cuisine of meats and especially its pastries.

More information

Los Villares

We leave Valdepeñas on the A-6050 road that leads us to Jaén, passing through Los Villares, another of the colonization centers of the 16th century, similar in layout to Valdepeñas. Due to its proximity to Jaén, it has experienced great growth in recent times by becoming a residential area for many residents of Jaén. Of the historic core, the main square, Fernando Feijoo, concentrates the most significant buildings: Town Hall and church, without special monumental value. The Town Hall, recently renovated, retains its sober structure from the late 18th century, in keeping with the prevailing academic taste. The church of San Juan Bautista, although it was built in the 16th century, nevertheless underwent a profound remodeling in the 18th century. Without straying too far from the square, the Vizconde de los Villares palace, better known as “Casa Grande” is the only piece of civil architecture that can stand out, with a classicist facade, already from the 18th century, which responds to the traditional typology of Jaen house-palace with its open gallery at the top.
The rich artisan tradition of wicker work invites us to take a souvenir of this craft with us, as well as enjoy its pastries.
In the environment there are natural places of great beauty, as is the case of "Los Cañones", with samples of prehistoric paintings.