The Gateway to Andalusia

ITINERARY 1: Baños de la Encina - Ibros - Canena - Sabiote - Segura de la Sierra - Siles.

ITINERARY 2: Porcuna - Torredelcampo - Jaén - Jódar - Cazorla - La Iruela.

This is a strategic regon between the Castilian plateau and the Guadalquivir valley, where the province of Jaén shows remains of Iberian Cyclopean walls (Ibros or Torredelcampo), but where most of the imposing fortresses owe their existence to the Moors, and their consolidation or rebuilding to the Christians. The Caliphs of Cordova built the castle at Baños de la Encina in the 10th c. in order to control the road through Despeñaperros.

The castle of Santa Catalina in Jaen is likewise Moorish (it was the saintly King Ferdinand's residence while he was conquering this land half way through the 13th c.), and so are those of Segura de la Sierra, Cazorla and La Iruela whose settings alone makes them seem quite impregnable.

The large fortified 15th c. tower at Porcuna (Gothic-Mudéjar) is Christian; it was built by the Master of Calatrava, Boabdil was impresioned there and it served as headquarters for Castaños before the decisive battle of Bailen.

There is different scenery in the castles of Canena and Sabiote in both of which the architect Vandelvira worked on orders from Francisco de los Cobos, secretary to Charles V; in Canena we can still behold the magnificent Renaissance curtyard. From the citadel at Siles there is a large fortified tower and a granary.

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