Jaén has always been a strategic land, and for this reason it welcomed vital chapters of our past. Like the Battle of Bailén (1808), which marked the first open field defeat of Napoleon's troops, or the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), a turning point towards the Reconquest. These are two examples of everything that Jaén’s Catles Route hides, connected by trails and paths that can be travelled by car, bicycle and even on horseback with the tranquillity of a little crowded destination.
Jaén is a province that has seen it all. It has been the scene of two of the most important battles in the history of Spain and has housed some of the most beautiful defensive architecture in Europe. This itinerary crosses the province from north to south, offering the possibility of practising active, cultural or nature tourism.
And what makes this area special is its virgin olive oil. The fruit harvested here is pressed and picked by hand. The result? A delicious product that can be tasted throughout the region.
Jaén’s Catles and Battles Route
Did you know that the province of Jaén is home to more than 400 castles and medieval defensive structures?
It's true. As a border zone during the Reconquest, it left an impressive legacy of imposing and beautiful fortresses in the province.
With so many castles to choose from, we have decided to create an easy-to-follow route that will take you on a journey through the history of Spain and its castles.
Join us on the Route of the Castles of Jaén and enjoy the history, the beautiful views and all those incredible stories.
If you visit Baños de la Encina and Burgalimar Castle, you will be able to see two of the most beautiful examples of Muslim military architecture in Spain. The castle was built by order of Al-Hakam II, son and successor of the great Abderramán III. It is incredible that all the walls were built only with adobe (mass of mud and straw dried in the sun).
If you want to see it inside, you will have to reserve the day and time in advance. The visit will last 45 minutes.
The Vilches castle is a defensive fortification built on the top of the hill to which it gives its name, and from which you can enjoy impressive views of the Guadalén and Guarrizas valleys, in the contact area between Morena Mountains to the north and the Guadalquivir Valley to the south.
Today, in addition to the remains of the original castle, you can visit the hermitage of the Virgen del Castillo, patron saint of the town.
Santa Catalina Castle in Jaen
The first thing you see when entering Jaén is the Santa Catalina Castle, which stands out like a symbol on the horizon. It is an image that will remain in your retina if you travel at night: the majestic, illuminated castle can be admired from any corner of the city.
The Santa Catalina Castle was built during the Middle Ages as a defensive construction to protect Jaén and its surroundings from possible attacks by foreign armies or invaders.
In fact, it was one of the three fortresses that were built together: El Alcázar Nuevo (the main building that is still standing today) and La Mota Vieja (destroyed), both dating from this time; the Mota Nueva (completely destroyed) was added later during the reign of Felipe III in Spain, between 1601-1606 AD.
La Mota Fortress
Alcalá la Real is a beautiful town in the south of the province of Jaén that is well worth a visit.
La Mota is a medieval castle converted into a museum. It's easy to get to, just take the A-4 south from Madrid. You can park right next to it, so it's easy to get there by car or bus.
The castle was built by the Muslims on Roman and Visigoth remains in the 8th century, on the 1,033-metre-high hill. It passed from hand to hand between Muslim families for centuries until in the 13th century, with the Christian reconquest of Al Andalus, it was attacked by Alfonso VIII, Fernando III and Alfonso X, but it was Alfonso XI who seized power from the fortress in 1341.
The Castle of Alcaudete is one of the best preserved castles in Spain and on the Jaén’s Catles Route. It is also one of the most beautiful, and you can visit it!
It was built in the 13th century by King Ferdinand II the Saint and entrusted to the Order of Calatrava, which guarded the western border of Jaén. Furthermore, it can only be conquered by siege, so it was built for defensive purposes.
The castle has a large interpretation centre dedicated to its historical evolution and the role it played in guarding that border. There are three cisterns, a chapter house and stables. The spectacular homage tower stands out, 22 metres high.
And these are just the 5 most important fortresses of the Jaen’s Castles Route. Come to know the province. Our hotel in Jaén awaits you with a 5% discount if you book accommodation on the official website.