Guide to Jaen, a historic city in the Andalucia region of Spain.

Cities of Andalucia - Jaen

Jaen Spain - Another of Andalucia’s great cities is Jaen, for centuries a virtual battleground between Moors and Christians. Today known as the “World Capital of Olive Oil”, Jaen has a population of around 117,000 (2006) and is a popular tourist destination with some interesting places to visit.

Known to the Moors as Jayyan (“crossroads of caravans”), Jaen climbs the slopes of the Santa Catalina mountains, with its old town a maze of steep, narrow streets and alleyways. High above the city is the Castillo de Santa Catalina, a fortress originally built by the Carthaginians, improved and extended by the Moors and again by the Christians after the reconquest.

Also worth a visit in Jaen is the 16th century cathedral, one of Spain’s most important Renaissance cathedrals, it was designed by Andrés de Vandelvira and was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin. On Fridays visitors can briefly view the ‘Veil of Veronica’ (Lienzo del Santa Rosto), a piece of cloth said to have been used to wipe Christ’s face by St Veronica.

Other places of interest include the Arab Baths (Baños Arabes), from the 11th century, the real Monasterio de Santa Clara (13th century), the Iglesia San Ildefonso, the Capilla de San Andrés chapel (16th century) and the Museo Provincial.

Present day Jaen is most important for the production of olive oil (“liquid gold” as it is known by locals), it also has some industry including chemicals, textiles, distilleries and tanneries.

Jaen can be reached via the A-44 from Granada or via the A-4 / A-44 from Cordoba.

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