Jaen Province - Albánchez de Mágina

Albánchez de Mágina

45 kilometres east of the city of Jaén, within the Sierra de Mágina mountain range, lies Albánchez de Úbeda. Even from a distance, the village can be clearly recognised, its white buildings crowned by an Arab fortress, which was once, due to its strategic postion, one of the most important in the region.

Albánchez boasts more traditions and fiestas than any other village in the area. The most important festival is the Fiesta de la Cruz, in honour of the village's patron saint, San Francisco de Paula. A torch-lit procession is organised, and in the streets bonfires are lit. Another significant celebration is the Fiesta del Corpus, when the streets are decorated with flowers.

The village has only been called Albánchez de Úbeda since 1917, and many locals do not like the name. Having been seized from the Moors by Fernando III, the settlement eventually came under the control of the order of Santiago, and accordingly took the name Albánchez de Santiago. In the 14th Century, the then castodian of the village, Ruy Fernández, sold it to the duchy of Úbeda, and thus the village became Albánchez de Úbeda. Its inhabitants prefer to say Albánchez, or even Albánchez de Santiago.

Worth a visit in Albánchez is the castle, although it is perhaps more spectacular from the outside. Also of note are the Renaissance Church (La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), some Iberian and Roman remains, and numerous natural springs.