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Monday Morning Photo - Finca de la Pansa

Finca de la Pansa B&B, once a farm house where grapes were dried to make the local Moscatel wine. The local farmsteads had this type of traditional frontage with arches so that the grapes - laid out on large cane mats could be dragged under cover quickly if it rained - yet still be out in the air to ´cure.´ See the video of Finca de la Pansa B&B on YouTube. Visit the  Finca de la Pansa website.

A Weekend Exploring (a tiny part of) Jaén Province - Andújar, Arjona, Baeza, Baños de la Encina and Ubeda

Jaén, probably the least known province in Andalucía, has ninety-seven towns within its border. I visited five one weekend and bring you a snapshot of the culture and incredible history of this inland paradise. Jaén is home to over 66 million olive trees, containing the largest man-made forest on the planet - the Sea of Olives.

It is also home to more castles, fortifications and watchtowers than any other area in Spain, some say in Europe. Let´s take a miniscule peak at the massive history and charm within these towns of Jaén.

Baños de la Encina

Baños de la Encina, Castle
Baños de la Encina

Recently added to the association of Spain´s Most Beautiful Villages says it all. The enormous XII century oval in form castle - Castillo de Bury al Hammam is visible from miles around, and one of the oldest in Europe. Sandstone mansions, charming streets, stunning Baroque camarin and the only example of a Quixote windmill in the south of Spain.

Where to Stay in Baños de la Encina?  

Where to Eat in Baños de la Encina? 


Baeza Cathedral
Baeza Cathedral

Baeza is twinned with Úbeda a Unesco site for outstanding Renaissance architecture. Baeza is smaller, and to me far more charming, but still with its own impressive Renaissance monuments. Such as the cathedral above with its Gothic cloisters. Stroll around its maze-like streets packed with sandstone mansions and churches.

Where to Stay in Baeza?


Úbeda, Plaza Santa Maria
Basílica Menor de Santa María in Plaza Vazquez, Úbeda

Much more grandiose than neigbouring Baeza (they are about 7km apart) Úbeda oozes Renaissance. The main square Plaza Vázquez de Molina shows many monuments. Spanish Renaissance architecture began in 16th century thanks to Andres Vandelvira who favoured the ´new´ arches, columns and domes. Úbeda, thanks to its closeness to Cazorla Natural Park and the olive groves, here you´ll find great gastronomy based on the local extra virgin olive oil.

Where to Eat in Úbeda? 



My biggest surprise of the weekend was Andújar, I´ve obviously never explored it properly before. It´s full of historical gems, a guided tour was needed to unveil them to me, I´ll be going back for a longer visit to explore. Head to the old part of town to discover mansions and churches galore and partial remnants of the city wall here and there.

Located near the mountain range of Sierra Morena, a vast and beautiful landscape that must be explored, there are 4x4 expeditions to see Lynx and plenty of other wildlife make there home here.

Where to Stay in Andújar? 



Finishing in one of the few fairly flat towns  around, and the nearest to home - Arjona in the area of the Campiña, this is olive grove country. The town is known as the "Cradle of Kings" as it was the birthplace of Alhamar the first Nasrid king who founded the Alhambra. Arjona takes us from the Islamic period, through Baroque to the thriving, exciting little town to visit of today. Ancient XII century water cistern, Jewish Quarter, far-reaching views and an amazing Neo-Byzantine underground crypt.

Where to Eat in Arjona? 

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