We could say that Jaén is lucky and unlucky at the same time. Lucky, because it is part of the most authentic Andalusia, and unlucky, because it is too close to dazzling places like the Alhambra in Granada, the Giralda in Seville or the Great Mosque of Córdoba. And of course, this way it is a lot more difficult to stand out.
For some reason, the history of Jaén has been in the midst of military squabbles since ancient times. Carthage and Rome fought here two centuries BC, and the Romans ended up taking control of an area of which wonders were spoken for its wealth and fertility.
When Rome got bored of dominating the world, the Visigoths loomed here, and then, of course, the Arabs. Jaén was doing great during the Muslim era and became a splendid and prosperous city, with its walls and palaces. But good times came to an end, and the Christian troops pushed until they took over the town around the thirteenth century.
The capital of Jaén has its cathedral, the one of the Assumption, built during the Renaissance times, and inside it there is a relic whose history a best seller of many volumes could be written: the relic of the Holy Face, made with 191 rubies, 193 diamonds and 210 emeralds, it is related to the cloth with which Veronica wiped the face of Christ on the way to the Calvary. If you want to see it, keep in mind that it is only exposed on Fridays.
You can also visit the imposing castle that dominates the area and which is actually an interesting set of fortifications from different eras.
But we told you that this region has been, throughout life, the scene of decisive battles. The one of the Navas de Tolosa, in 1212, marked the decline of the Muslim presence in the peninsula. And that of Bailen, six centuries later, which left the Europe of the time in shock by assuming the first defeat of the Napoleonic army in an open field. The little Corsican thought that such humiliation was unacceptable and sometime later he would go back to Spanish lands to show his power again. But things had already started to get twisted for the sour man in Jaén lands. The story of the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa which was the end of the Muslim presence in Spain, you see, was repeated again at the beginning of the contemporary era when Napoleon and his troops were sent off.
The bandits of Sierra Morena were also famous, for a long time they raided the pathways and stole honestly. You know the thing about robbing the rich to give to the poor. Although in this case the poor were the bandits themselves, so it was all kept in the family.
And to finish this audio guide, we will tell you a curiosity. It turns out that the inhabitants of this region surpass the average life expectancy in all of Europe, being practically equal to the Japanese longevity. And do you know what seems to be the reason? Well, nothing less than its globally recognised olive oil. So don’t miss the chance to buy a bottle of this precious and vital liquid gold.