The visit to what to see in Jaén can begin with the Castle of Santa Catalina. From there, using a little imagination, you can see the lizard shape of its contours around the hill. You can also see the sea of olive trees that extends to the horizon. The fortress has been completely refurbished and houses a Visitor’s Centre inside.
Castle of Santa Catalina | Junta de Andalucía
An impressive Cathedral
Going down to the city centre, the spectacular Cathedral of La Asunción de Jaén (16th-18th century) awaits. Of Gothic and Renaissance style, it is the best temple to see in Jaén capital. In 1473, in the space of the old main chapel, the Condestable Iranzo was murdered while he was praying. On the other hand, the well-known cathedral front is a work of López de Rojas. Meanwhile, very late in the 18th century, Ventura Rodríguez conceived the famous Capilla del Sagrario, in fact a complementary church that was completed in 1800.
The Altarpiece of Santa Teresa, the image of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Christ of the Good Death stand out from the whole. Of great value is also the canvas by Valdés Leal representing Ferdinand III, the reconqueror of the city. There is also a work by the painter Maella representing the Holy Family and the reliquary of Santa Cecilia. The visit to the temple is completed with the rich Cathedral Museum, which houses some of the most important works to be seen in Jaén.
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral. | Junta de Andalucía
Monuments from the past
The Arab baths of the Palace of Villadompado, built in the 11th century and reformed, are amazing. They make up a unique complex in the peninsula, complemented by its splendid courtyard. Today it houses two museums: Naif Art Museum and Traditional Customs Museum.
For its part, the Sagrario Church (18th century) owes its general idea to the great architect Ventura Rodríguez, who designed its magnificent vault of coffered ceilings. It also includes paintings by Mariano Salvador Maella.
Continuing with what to see in Jaén is the turn of the Basilica of San Ildefonso. Its history is strongly linked to the capital of Jaén. In fact, its very foundation is related to a miraculous event according to which the Virgin herself appeared in the place in 1430. As far as its architecture is concerned, it mixes Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical elements. The building has a body with three naves. Meanwhile, the medieval image of the Virgin of the Chapel stands out in its interior. Pedro Duque y Cornejo is responsible for the tabernacle-altar (18th century).
Arab baths of Jaén
In the Plaza de la Magdalena is the church of the same name, with a clear late-medieval flavour. Luckily, it did not lose its façade completely after the intervention of Vandelvira, who was responsible for the new bell tower, in the 16th century. The church is built on top of a primitive mosque. On the other hand, the Hospital de la Orden de San Juan de Dios (17th century), whose factory has medieval origins, stands out. The Gothic façade is noteworthy, contrasting with the already classicist aesthetics of its interior courtyards, the real protagonists of a building that is now a cultural centre.
The Torre del Concejo is integrated into the Church of San Juan, which is very old and still shows its late Gothic silhouette. At the same time, the small temple of San Bartolomé was also created in medieval times. In fact, there is still a baptismal font from this period. However, it has a beautiful classicist façade dating from the 17th century, the same time as the impressive Christ of the Expiration that is preserved inside. Also outstanding is its main altarpiece, made a century earlier.
One of the most singular ecclesiastical institutions that must be seen in Jaén is the Santa Capilla de San Andrés, from 1515, whose interior keeps a dressing room from the 18th century. The space combines late Gothic (Mudejar) architectural and artistic elements with other classicists. It is advisable to visit the galleries of its Renaissance courtyard and contemplate its beautiful works of art.
From the medieval temple of San Lorenzo remains the so-called Arco de San Lorenzo. which serves to frame an image of a crucified man much venerated in the city. Of the Church of San Miguel, medieval but reformed in the 16th century, several pieces remain. The main ones are its tower, apse and the doorway designed by Vandelvira.