Alcalá La Real
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The delightful small town of Alcalá La Real has a population of approximately 21,000 and is located on the N432 between Cordoba (85km) and Granada (47km) although, technically, it falls within the province of Jaen. The town has an impressive fortress and was a strategic stronghold during medieval times and subsequently occupied by the Moors in 713. Thereafter, Alcalá was the scene of frequent battles between the Moors and the Christians. This tumultuous period lasted until 1341 when Alfonso XI gained control of the town. The crown established an abbey here which was deemed the headquarters from where to launch a major offensive on Granada.
La Mota Castle
This magnificent castle dates back to 727 when the town was under Muslim rule. It was later expanded.
The castle was badly damaged in the 19th century when battles were fought with France and it was thereafter abandoned. The three rows of fortifications are still in evidence, however, and there is a small museum open to the public.
Located within the original city walls is another of the town's important buildings - the Abbey Church which was built on the site of the original Alcalá Abbey.
It is an extremely imposing building with a 42 metre tower looming above the old part of the city, and said to date back to between 1530 and 1627. The church is a combination of various architectural styles, including Gothic and Renaissance, and the vaults are particularly impressive, being entirely constructed from hued stone.
St Juan Church
This church dates back to the late sixteenth century and is located on the hill leading up to the castle.
It is one of Alcalá's most popular churches and houses the 'Cristo de la Salud' which is used during the annual Holy Week processions.
The town hall is housed in an impressive early eighteenth century building, fronted by gracious arcades.
The clock tower was added in 1791. There is an identical building opposite the town hall which was built at the same time and now houses shops and offices.
The streets that surround the town hall are in a district known as "El Llanillo". This area is noted for its historic buildings, as well as some fine nineteenth century architecture.
Located on Carrera de la Mercedes are the church and convent of La Encarnation which dates from 1639. The nearby Palacio Abacial was rebuilt in 1781 and combines Baroque with Italian and French architectural design.
Paseo de los Alamos
The welcoming exterior walkway is one of the town's focal points where the locals enjoy taking their evening "paseo", particularly on a Sunday afternoon. Throughout the year, this is also the site for various fairs and markets. The design is eighteenth century and in one corner, there is a pillar dated 1552 which bears the inscription:"'the key and guardian of the kingdoms of Castile." (Alcalá)
Alcalá is the birthplace of Andalusian Baroque architecture. Martones Montañes (1568-1649), the famous architect and principal exponent of the Seville architectural school was born here, as was Pablo de Rojas (1560-1607) who represented the school of Granada.
The traditional handicrafts of Alcalá, include embroidery, pottery and leather.
La Candeleria. A mini 'fallas' (Valencia) when bonfires are lit throughout the town.
An important religious holiday with daily processions taking place through the main streets of the town.
May 15 - San Isidro
Locals enjoy a picnic in the surrounding countryside.
June 24 - San Juan
Bonfires and fireworks
August 15 - Virgin de la Mercedes
A dazzling procession with more than 12,000 lit candles.
September 21-25 - Annual fair of San Mateo