by Saskia Mier
Arjonilla is situated on the far western side of the province of Jaén, surrounded by olive groves. Indeed, it sits in the heart of a region well known for olive oil production. The area is also rich in archaeological remains. Arjonilla has about 3,570 inhabitants.
The town is in a first-class archaeological zone, the cradle of the Iberian civilization, where multiple Iberian settlements and funerary nuclei, such as the nearby Cerro Venate, have been discovered. During the Medieval period, Arjonilla was closely linked to the Order of Calatrava in the area, since Fernando III, in 1228, granted the fortress of Martos, including its terms of the towns of Porcuna and Vívoras, to the Order. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Castillo de Macías ‘el Enamorado’
The castle is famous not as the site of military exploits, but because Macías ‘el Enamorado’ was imprisoned and murdered here. His love affairs inspired works by Lope de Vega y Larra. In 1434, Juan II forced the Calatraveños to live in the castle and to rebuild it. Declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1985. Located on Calle del Castillo.(Location)
Monday-Friday, 09:00-14:00hrs and 17:00-21:00hrs (entrance at Casa de la Cultura).
Saturday and Sunday, by appointment only.
Tel: 953 52 04 10
Torre del Homenaje
The oldest element of the Castillo de Macías ‘el Enamorado’. A work from the thirteenth century, made of ashlar with uniform chains, small dimensions and a proportionate structure, it sits on a rock plinth with a square base. Located on Calle del Castillo.(Location)
Iglesia de la Encarnación
The church was designed according to the Gothic lexicography of the early sixteenth century. Its plan consists of three naves, separated by cruciform pillars, covered with a Mudejar roof that, in the eighteenth century, was camouflaged with false ribbed vaults. The sacristy is accessed through an interesting Plateresque doorway. Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, side chapels and a pantheon were built. The choir and the Mannerist altarpiece, the work of Blas de Figueredo and Cristóbal Téllez, were destroyed in 1936 and restored after the Spanish Civil War. Its prominent tower, erected at the foot of the church at the beginning of the seventeenth century, is an impressive example of Mannerist design. Located in Plaza de la Encarnación.(Location)
Ermita de Jesús
The seventeenth-century chapel retains the barrel vault and lunettes of its original construction. The dressing room of Jesús, and the interesting façade, that draws attention for the monochrome simplicity of the brick, the ascending verticality of lines, and the articulation of spaces, date to the eighteenth century. Located in Plaza de la Encarnación.(Location)
Casa del Juzgado
Also known as “Ayuntamiento Viejo”, this building has been completely renovated. Of its original construction, only a seventeenth-century portal, narrow and divided into three sections, remains. On the ground floor is a lintel door framed between Tuscan pilasters with a wide frieze as a lintel above it, decorated with a plate and dated 1617. The second body is occupied by a balcony escorted by two figures dressed in the Roman style on corbels, and the third presents a total of three shields. This house, which is crowned on its façade with a triangular pediment with pyramidal pinnacles at the vertices, was once the Arjonilla City Council. Located on Calle Glorieta Pio XII.(Location)
Colecciones Museísticas (Palacio del Marqués de la Merced)
The Arjonilla Museum Collections are based in what was the Palacio del Marqués de la Merced, which was built in the late seventeenth century. The building is currently the focus of a project that began in 2014, having been inaugurated on August 13, 2018. The museum has a room dedicated to the archeology of the municipality, since it has prehistoric remains dating back to the Copper Age, as well as Iberian-Roman, Visigoth and Medieval remains. Located on Avenida de Andalucía.(Location)
Saturday and Sunday, 11:00-13:00hrs
Tel: 953 52 01 11
The subsoil of Arjonilla hides evidence of its remote pottery tradition, beginning at the hand of Alfredo Mathia, a Chinese national, in the 1960s. In 1974, rehabilitation took place of the formerly extinct School of Ceramics, which extended its previous status to the House of Crafts in 1988. Since then, among other activities, modelling and painting courses have been hosted in its premises. Arjonilla has in recent years been able to enhance its pottery tradition, transforming it into a current ceramic conception and a source of income that occupies one of the top positions in the economy of this town, otherwise dominated by olive groves. The Association of Potters has recently published a meticulous catalogue that includes twelve commercial firms dedicated tenaciously to the production of artistic ceramics. These images show pleasant forms of metallic reflection and a symbiosis between Granada and Sevillian-Talaveran styles, accents which don’t deflect from the unique quality of the works.
Dishes to try when visiting Arjonilla include potaje de habas con berenjenas (bean and aubergine stew), guiso de castañas (chestnut stew), boquerones escarchados (anchovies) and migas con tropezones (fried breadcrumbs with pork). For something sweet and indulgent, try their torrijas (eggy bread soaked in honey).
Popular festivals in Arjonilla are Feria de San Roque, Virgen de las Batallas, Romería de Nuestra Señora de Alharilla and Fiestas Medievales. More>