La Guardia de Jaén
by Saskia Mier
La Guardia de Jaén is a small village situated southeast of the capital of the province of Jaén. The settlement originally served to defend the city, hence its name ‘guardia’ meaning ‘guard’. It has about 4980 inhabitants.
La Guardia de Jaén is rich in history given the various cultures that have passed through it over time, from the Roman era to the Re-conquest. Apart from its important role as a Castilian vanguard against the Kingdom of Granada, what distinguishes La Guardia from other municipalities on the border is its probable former housing of an ancient and illustrious Iberian oppidum, known as Mentesa Bastia. This site is mentioned by Plinio as a Roman detachment of Hispania Citerior. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Antiguo Convento de Santa María Magdalena de la Cruz
Today known as Iglesia Parroquial de la Asunción, the previous Convent of Santa María Magdalena de la Cruz was created under the patronage of Don Rodrigo Messia y Carrillo and Doña Mayor de Fonseca, locals of La Guardia, and was carried out by the friar, Domingo de Valtanás in 1530. The works did not begin until 1542. The stonemason Domingo de Tolosa, Francisco del Castillo “el Viejo” and Andrés de Vandelvira were involved in its construction. Inside, the main chapel and the transept stand out, drawn by Andrés de Vandelvira. After the Confiscation, it became an oil factory and private home. Only part of the gallery is still preserved today, but the midpoint arches molded on fine Ionic columns once filled the whole space. The works of the cloister and side chapels of the foot section were entrusted to Francisco del Castillo “El Mozo” in 1574. The facade was unfinished. Vandelvira made improvements to the original design, adding the main chapel and vault of the transept with a large and beautiful lantern. Located on Calle Escuelas. (Location)
Pilar-Fuente de los Cinco Caños
The monumental fountain is built of ashlar stone and has a landscape layout, corresponding to a disused and very rare architectural genre. Built in the sixteenth century, it is considered a local monument. It was typical for water springs to be channeled to a public washhouse for locals to wash clothes and bedding, however, in La Guardia it was prohibited to use the water for washing. Located in Plaza de Isabel II. (Location)
Castillo de La Guardia
The castle was very important in Roman and Visigoth times, and its strategic location meant it was a critical vantage point until the High Middle Ages. It was known as Hisn al-Qal’a ‘alcala’a, granted to Sheikh Maymun. Its shape is an irregular triangle, a configuration adapted to that of the plateau of the hill that supported it and that most likely supplants the site of an ancient Iberian oppidum. It has since been a residence of the Lords of La Guardia. A fire in 1812 caused extensive damage, including the incineration of the church located next to the main door; a half-demolished bell tower and part of the vault of the chapel are all that remains. Elsewhere on the site, several square towers and a circular one are preserved, of which the Torre del Homenaje is very notable with an approximate elevation of 35 meters from the interior of the castle. There is an octagonal viewpoint towards the Puerto Alto area. The castle has very recently been restored. Located on Calle Zumbajarros. (Location)
Lavadero Público II República
The public laundry area of the Second Republic is an endearing and prominent place in La Guardia. Recently restored, it offers visitors the chance to imagine communal times gone by, when such places would be the social hub of the town as locals completed their washing. On the first floor there is also the “Fuente Lavadero” Exhibition Hall. Located on Calle Escuelas. (Location and hours)
Museo y Sala de Exposiciones Fuente Lavadero
The sociocultural building was restored in 2002 and is today used as a multipurpose hall and museum for temporary exhibitions of painting, sculpture and other artistic practices. It recreates the atmosphere of a public laundry from the twentieth century; a time in which local women attended the public laundry for domestic laundry tasks due to the lack of facilities at home. You can see typical antique laundry tools including baskets, homemade soap and washing stones, as well as jugs, lamps for lighting, etc. (Location and hours)
Ermita de la Virgen Coronada
The chapel is covered with an elongated vault supported by semicircular arches resting on Tuscan-style pilasters. On the façade, over the access door, there is a partially broken shield representing the heritage of Don Antonio Gómez de la Torre y Jarabeitia (1770-1779), Bishop of Jaén, and perhaps the architect of the restoration. Located on Calle Coronada. (Location)
La Guardia’s gastronomy, as elsewhere in the province Jaén, is varied and original, retaining reminiscences of the Iberian peninsula’s Arab past, whilst also pointing to Christian tradition with dishes such as guiñapos (cod and mussel stew), guiso de papas con ajo (potato and garlic stew), habas secas (dried beans) and bacalao encebollado (cod cooked in onions). Sweet treats include bollo de calabaza (pumpkin sponge cake), gusanillos (sweet honey pastry noodles) and roscos fritos (fried doughnuts).
Popular festivals in La Guardia de Jaén are Fiestas de San Sebastián, Feria y Fiestas de la Pastora and Feria y Fiestas de Nuestra Señora del Rosario. More>
There is a few bus a day service from Jaén bus station and Jaén centre to La Guardia de Jaén. The M1-10 and M1-11 service rus via slightly different routes. More>
The weather forcast for the next few days for La Guardia de Jaén. More>
The tourist office of La Guardia de Jaén is located in the town hall. (Location)
The neighbouring villages to La Guardia de Jaén are Jaén City and Pegalajar.