Alcalá La Real
by Saskia Mier
Alcalá la Real is a delightful little town with an impressive fortress, once a strategic stronghold during medieval times and subsequently occupied by the Moors in 713. It has about 21,700 inhabitants.
Alcalá la Real is situated in a strategic area connecting the Guadalquivir Valley (through the Guadajoz River) with the Granada plains, through the Frailes and Velillos Rivers. Its position has made it fundamentally important to communication routes throughout history, particularly when the surrounding area became a border zone with the Kingdom of Granada during the Middle Ages. Human occupation within the municipal term as far back as the Paleolithic era has been attested by archaeological digs. Evidence from subsequent prehistoric phases has also been unearthed, including the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages. From the Final Bronze Age, in the ancient Iberian phases, small-scale Iberian settlements can be seen, such as the nuclei of La Gineta and La Mesa de la Ribera Alta. From Roman times, the first evidence of occupation of the hill of La Mota is noted, which can be identified as the first remains of Alcalá itself, although it may be the case that these Roman buildings destroyed the previous Iberian strata. More>
Alcalá la Real is a delightful little town with an impressive fortress, once a strategic stronghold during medieval times and subsequently occupied by the Moors in 713. It has about 21,700… More →
This Municipal Museum was opened in 1995 in the interesting Palacio Abacial with the aim of exhibiting and conserving local artefacts.
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Things to see
Fortaleza de La Mota
The castle dates back to 727, when the town was under Muslim rule, and was later expanded. It was badly damaged in the nineteenth century during battles against France, and it was abandoned thereafter. For over 150 years, the Fortress marked the frontier between the Kingdoms of Granada and Castile. Surrounded by several rings of walls, its perimeter is one of the largest in Andalusia. The Fortress was the nucleus of several walled rings; it had seven gates, including the Puerta de la Imagen and Puerta de la Cárcel, which was damaged by the explosion of a powder magazine during the French domination. The three rows of fortifications are still in evidence. It has two well differentiated areas: the Church and the Fortress. Declared a National Monument in 1913. Currently, the Fortress houses the Centro de Interpretación de la Vida en la Frontera. (Location)
The rebuilding of the Abbatial Palace was ordered by the Abbot, Esteban Lorenzo Mendoza y Gatica, in 1781, who decided to build it in the expansion area of the city after leaving Castillo de la Mota in the upper part, endowing it with baroque and neoclassical elements. The new building and façade were the result of the combining of several houses. This mansion maintained its use up to 1851, when the Abbey of Alcalá la Real was suppressed. After years of undetermined fate, it became the abbatial archive and residence of the Archpriest of the Ecclesiastical Territory. In 1927, the building became municipal property, with school classrooms and other services being installed. The Spanish Civil War caused significant damage, although it was again restored to give it new uses. In 1959, it was the Headquarters of the Centro Oficial de Patronato de Enseñanza Media (Secondary School), which, some years later, became the Instituto de Bachillerato “Alfonso XI” (Official Centre for the High School Board), which would later become the “Alfonso XI” High School Institute. In 1995, the City Council and the Consejería de Obras Públicas de la Junta de Andalucía began the rehabilitation for giving it new uses in accord with the cultural demands of the city. Today, after four years of rehabilitation, the Abbatial Palace is the seat of the Municipal Museum. (Location)
Iglesia de Santa Maria La Mayor
The church, also known as the Iglesia Abacial, is situated inside a high fortified enclosure, where in Islamic times there was a model Muslim medina with commercial and residential areas. After the re-conquest, King Alfonso XI ordered the razing of the mosque and the construction of a church on the site, dependent on the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Toledo and with a domain extending over a vast territory. Its first Headquarters was a primitive Renaissance Gothic-style temple remodeled after the capture of Granada. Its reconstruction began in the second quarter of the sixteenth century according to the plans of Martín de Bolívar, and its Gothic structure of star-shaped vaults is covered with plateresque decoration. In this sector, the funerary chapels are conceived as monumental plateresque doorways, as are the access arches to the Baptistery. The rest of the church is the result of transformations carried out in the sixteenth century by Ambrosio de Vico; later, the masters Luis González and Fray Cristóbal de San José added a great triumphal trio of identical arches; while the Sacristy, attached to the temple, was made by Ginés Martín de Aranda in the seventeenth century. As a testimony of the primitive church, only the Chapel of Deán Cherinos remains standing. Its Baptismal Chapel is very notable, with a double Renaissance façade and coffered vault, which some authors attribute to Jacobo Florentino, a notable architect of Italian origin who worked in the areas of Granada and Murcia at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The temple remained in a state of solitude at the end of the eighteenth century as the city had been consolidated and spread across the plain for more than two centuries, as well as owing to the fire caused by the French troops in their flight from the city after its occupation in 1810, putting an end to its activity and part of the building. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1931. (Location)
Museo Arqueológico de Palacio Abacial
After four years of works, the Municipal Museum was opened with the intention of conserving, exhibiting and disseminating numerous artefacts of archaeological, ethnological, anthropological, paleontological, scientific and technical interest. Environmental heritage is also documented, and the exhibits are arranged across multiple spaces and linked buildings. The museum aims to be a forum for showcasing itinerant, interactive exhibitions, in order to become a true cultural hub for the community. The importance of this space is twofold; an innovative museum of heritage, as well as a starting point for understanding the contemporary town and its surroundings. At present the Pez Ventura Elementary Music Conservatory is located there, as well as the museum and a tourist information point. (Location)
Construction of the Town Hall began in 1733. It is symmetrical with three elegant floors and a tower on each side. Inside, it preserves the banner and standard with which the city was reconquered. (Location)
Centro de Rescate de Anfibios y Reptiles Municipal
The Amphibian and Reptile Rescue Center was inaugurated on March 30, 2015, by then-mayor Carlos A. Hinojosa Hidalgo, as stated on a plaque affixed to the entrance. The municipally run centre collects specimens before releasing them into their same distribution areas. Often, animals are taken from sites that are under development, housed in the centre and then returned to their habitat once building has finished, or to another area with similar characteristics. The centre has a series of artificial ponds at different levels, but naturalized, where native species live, including frogs, newts, fish and turtles. The centre is also responsible for hosting exotic species which are either brought by their owners or seized by the authorities. It has a showroom with terrariums, where you can visit and observe some species of reptiles and amphibians, as well as an environmental education center. (Location)
Iglesia de Consolación
This church is also known by the name of Santa María la Mayor, since it was the new Headquarters of the Iglesia Mayor Abbacial de la Fortaleza de la Mota, becoming the main temple of the city after the desecration and destruction of the previous church. The third friars of the Franciscan Order settled here at the beginning of the sixteenth century, but the construction process of the church was long and comprised many restorations, lasting until the end of the eighteenth century. Located on Glorieta de Consolación.
October-March, Monday-Sunday, 09:00-14:00hrs and 18:00-20:30hrs.
April-September, Monday-Sunday, 09:00-14:00hrs and 19:00-21:30hrs.
Tel: 953 58 03 64
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Angustias
This church was built between 1747 and 1785, following the model of the Tabernacle of the Cathedral of Jaén. Its interior space is organised from a hall plan of a single rectangular nave with four concave corners, from which you can access the head of the church, with a polygonal plan. Its architecture combines elements typical of the transition from baroque to neoclassical aesthetics. Outside, the church stands out for its almost perfect stonework. (Location)
Iglesia de San Juan Bautista
The site of the Church of San Juan Bautista is composed of the church, sacristy and other annexed units. It shows an architectural variant, typical of the popular building, with a marked contrast between the white lime and the stone, which denote a corner of Andalusian physiognomy. The church is formed by a single main nave, housing its principal chapel or altar. In this is the image of the Cristo de la Salud flanked by the flags of the Brotherhood and by San Juan (on the right) and the Virgen de las Mercedes (on the left). From the epistle side of the main altar, you can access the sacristy. In the interior rooms of the temple there is a small but interesting museum, founded by the Brotherhood itself that shows this popular religiosity of the inhabitants of the neighborhood. (Location)
Antiguo Convento de Capuchinos
The previous Convent was built in the mid-seventeenth century. As of 1835, with the arrival of the confiscations, it passed into private hands and was converted into private homes and an oil factory. The original façade was modified in the twentieth century by the addition of an artistic double staircase and large windows. Inside, only the basic structure of the church remains, which consists of a single nave with side chapels and a vestibule at the foot. It currently houses the Historical Archive and the Public Library. (Location)
Convento del Rosario
The crossroads of Calle Real, Calle Oteros and Calle Rosario opens up into a small public square; here, the portal of a former convent is located. The foundation (1590) was laid by the Order of Preachers and the Dominicans, who remained in it until 1835. Later it was the vice-parish of Santa María la Mayor, until it was ruined and abandoned as a result of the Spanish Civil War of 1936. The church, now completely deconstructed, was of great dimensions, and responded to the Renaissance style. The Civil Hospital and the Casa Cuna were installed in this enclosure. (Location)
Iglesia de San Antón
This eighteenth-century church was built in the vicinity of a small sixteenth-century hermitage. The ground plan has an ellipsoidal shape and at the end of its axes there are four rectangular spaces that correspond to the feet, the main chapel and the side chapels. It is worth highlighting the perfection of its elliptical floor plan and brick vault. Located on Calle Abad Palomino. (Location)
Palacete de la Hilandera
Built by Manuel López Ramírez in the early twentieth century, this manor house preserves the constructive essence of the buildings of the time with stucco or tile plinths, ceilings with decorative paintings and a spiral staircase. It currently houses an exhibition of popular textile arts and is decorated with period furniture. (Location)
Pilar de los Alamos
The fountain is a Renaissance work, dated 1552, as seen in the legend of the frieze. The façade shows a large relief in which two tenants hold and adorn the shield of the city, protected in turn by two fabulous hybrid winged animals, with the head of a lion, the body of a dragon and masks on the ends of the wings, which symbolise the guarding and defense of the city. Francisco Florentín took part in the construction. Located on Calle Alamós.(Location)
The territory surrounding Alcalá la Real is rich in biodiversity and has undoubted value for natural and active tourism. It presents an important habitat of natural interest, both for its fauna and flora. It has protected natural spaces such as the “Parque Periurbano de los Llanos”, located on a wide plateau that offers exceptional panoramic views of the city and the fortress of La Mota. Due to its steppe ecosystem, there is great biodiversity; the presence of autochthonous species has led to the area being declared and cataloged as a Habitat of Priority Community Interest since 2013. Walking routes include Sendero SLA-253 Los Zumaques (9,4km), Sendero PR-A 414 Río Velillos (10,4km), GR 7 Sendero Europeo E-4 (9,2km) and Camino Mozárabe de Santiago (21,8km).
The traditional handicrafts of Alcalá include embroidery, pottery and leather.
When visiting Alcalá la Real, try local dishes such as arroz caldoso (similar to risotto), secretaria (chicken stew), sopa de ajo (garlic soup) and jarrete (pork shank stew). Sweet treats include roscos de vino (aniseed biscuits) and borrachuelos (red wine sugared doughnuts). Alcalá la Real is also very well known for its homemade wines such as licor de membrillo (quince liqueur) and arresoli (coffee and aniseed liqueur).
Traditional Festivals in Alcal la Real include Candelaria, Carnical, Holy Week and Summer Feria. More>
Alsa bus company provide a return bus service between Alcala la Real and Granada and Jaén city. The bus station is located on Avenida de Andalucia. (More>)
Weather - Alcalá la Real - if you are considering visiting this town you will be interested to check the latest weather forecast for the next few days (More >).