Jaén is one of the few towns in Spain where your tapa is included in the price of your drink – and if you want to eat well here, head to a tavern. My favorite is El Abuelo, which offers incredible tapas: it is famous for its delicious potato aioli and tomato and bacon alpargatas (toasted bread with tomato and bacon). Also good are La Manchega, founded in 1886 and Jaén’s oldest bar, Casa Gorrión, which displays a mummified ham leg dating back to 1918, as well as La Barra and El Santo.
No visit to Jaén is complete without climbing up to the cross of Santa Catalina Castle. The viewpoint offers a breathtaking view of the entire city and the endless olive groves that surround it. You’ll be hard pressed to find a nicer place to watch the sunset.
Discover the Museo Provincial: its archaeological collection includes prehistoric tools, statues, mosaics and fine examples of Roman, Jewish and Arab goldsmithery. The fine arts section of the museum has a remarkable collection spanning from the 19th century to the present day. In addition to portraits of Spanish nobles, it contains good examples of realistic and romantic works, a drawing by Picasso, pictures and sketches by local painter Rafael Zabaleta.
Nearby, the modern Ibero Museo is, as its name suggests, dedicated to the ancient civilizations of the Iberian Peninsula. Its collection, divided into sections called the Lady, the Prince, the Hero and the Goddess, provides a fascinating insight into the culture and daily life of our ancestors.
Jaén has managed to preserve its traditional Andalusian atmosphere and its neighborhoods – even the center – remain very untouristy. the neighborhoods from La Merced, San Bartolomé and San Juan are worth seeing. If you are looking for a mix of tradition and leisure, try the San Ildefonso district, with its bars and shops near the small church square.
La Magdalena is an unpretentious traditional neighborhood in the old town, known for its statue of a huge lizard. Why the large reptile? According to local legend, this giant lizard once terrorized the area, prowling at night and devouring crops and livestock. Fortunately, a brave shepherd had the original idea of stuffing a sheep’s belly with gunpowder and leaving it out to tempt the monster. The greedy lizard took the bait and was shredded, much to the delight of the locals.
The legend lives on in the local jargon. If you’re from Jaén and you wish ill on someone, you say, “I hope you explode like the dragon of La Magdalena.”
Juan Pablo II Park, better known as Boulevard Park, is a good option if you love outdoor sports or fancy a lazy afternoon picnic. It is divided into three large areas and the large fountain in the central area is a welcoming and refreshing place on a hot summer day. If you are looking for something a little wilder, the Vía Verde del Aceite is a green corridor that you can explore on foot or by bike.
The best places in town for a night out are the central pubs like La Marimorena, which plays rock and alternative music, or Admiral’s Arms, which leans more towards metal and goth. If you’re into poetry, El Tijuana offers monthly readings by top poets.
Hotel Xauen (doubles from €93 B&B) and Hotel Condestable Iranzo (doubles from €92 B&B) are both affordable and central, close to public transport, museums, shops and restaurants. green spaces. The Xauen offers cathedral views from its rooftop terrace, which also has sun loungers and an outdoor shower.
Begona M Rueda has published nine books of poetryincluding the laundry service, which won the Hiperion Poetry Prize in 2021