When most people head off to the beaches and the Costas around Andalusia. I like to explore lesser known towns and villages. So this month I am heading inland to the unspoilt Jaen town of Alcala la Real.

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You may be wondering why I have such a keen interest in this sleepy town in the Andalusian countryside.

Alcala la Real, Jaen

Here are five attractions I visited on my weekend there:

Mota Fortress

The Fortaleza de la Mota is a grand fortress which you can see for miles around. Perched on a hill and dating back to the 13th century. This important site marked the boundary between Castille and the Kingdom of Granada. You can visit the castle and its dungeons as it has been carefully restored. The visit takes a few hours.

Also inside the complex is the main Abbey church with towers, known as La Iglesia Mayor Abacial, built in 1530 this is a must see part of the visit. I got to visit one summer evening and had a special hostess to show me around.

Mota Fortress in Alcala La Real Spain by Piccavey

Opening Hours

  • Open daily from 10.30am to 7.30pm – 1st April until 14th October
  • Open daily from 10am to 5.30pm – 15th October to 31st March 
  • Contact telephone number (+34) 953 102717
  • Free Visitor Parking in the castle car park
  • Visit time – Around 2 hours.

 

Etnosur Festival Alcala la Real Spain

Etnosur Festival

This colourful festival is on from 21st to 23rd July 2017. A three day festival open to all who want to attend. It´s free entrance too.

The programme includes activities such as Concerts, Circus performances, Workshops, Storytellers, Competitions and Street animations.

The main act this year is Youssou N’Dour, Senegalese artist who sang with Neneh Cherry on 7 seconds away.  There are also Food stalls and a Craft market on for the three days.

This Ethnic Festival is quite a special date on the Andalusian calendar and has being succesful since it began back in 1997.

More information> Etnosur – Alcala La Real

Alcala la Real Town Hall

Go Slow

Alcala la Real is a little way off the beaten track. Although it´s a short drive from Granada and Jaen you have to go there on purpose. This is a good thing as its a quiet town. Perfect for a rural break. Lots of little bars and outdoor cafés to while away the time and people watch.

Slow Tourism is ever more attractive as our pace of life speed up. I´m enjoy the endless views of green olive groves, blue skies and taking in a few historic buildings. With a book and a cold beer. It´s the perfect place to unwind and of course a location where noone finds me.

Alcala la Real Veladas Frontera 2017

Veladas de la Frontera

Most of evenings Summer in Alcala la Real there special activities known as ´Veladas de la Frontera´. These special events includes tours of the Castle at nighttime, murder mystery evenings and other visits.

Here is the full programme of Summer events:

  • Friday 14th July  – Mota Fortress Misteries – Hear some of the mysteries and legends surrounding this 13th century castle. The nighttime atmosphere makes this event quite magical. Guided tour around the Fortess with actors. 6 euros  (I did this 2 hour visit)
  • Saturday 15th  July – Mota Fortress Nighttime visit – Guided tour around the castle with a few surprises along the way. 6 euros. 
  • Sunday 16th July – Mota Fortress Nighttime visit – Guided tour around the castle with a few surprises along the way. 6 euros.
  • Saturday 22nd July – 8.30pm Intrigue at the Abbey – Find clues with codes and maps. Discover who was the 16th century murderer? Can you resolve the crime? 15 euros
  • Thursday 27th July – Medieval Fair at Fortaleza del Mota from 9pm onwards. 2,50 euros. Free if you wear period costume.
  • Friday 28th July Medieval Fair at Fortaleza del Mota from 9pm onwards. 2,50 euros. Free if you wear period costume.
  • Saturday 29th July Medieval Fair at Fortaleza del Mota from 9pm onwards. 2,50 euros. Free if you wear period costume.
  • The medieval fair at the Mota Fortress has craft stalls, workshops to make chain mail armour, glass blowing, coin stamping, basket weaving, arab calligraphy, street performers, fire breathers, acrobatic dancing, magic shows and fencing exhibitions.

Fortaleza Mota Alcala La Real

  • Thursday August 3rd – The Siege of Qalat Banu Said – A nighttime tour explains the underground tunnels and mines. Learn how the final battle took place and how Alcala la Real changed from Muslim rule to Christian rulers after this siege. 6 euros
  • Saturday 5th August – The Priveliege of Wine. Learn about the link between Alcala la Real and wine with the local winery Marcelino Serrano  15 euros
  • Friday August 11th – Intrigue at the Abbey – Find clues with codes and maps. Discover who was the 16th century murderer? Can you resolve the crime? 15 euros
  • Thursday 10th August – Mota Fortress Special timetable – The fortress is open until 10pm on 10th August.
  • Saturday 13th August – Mota Fortress Nighttime visit – Guided tour around the castle with a few surprises along the way. 6 euros.
  • Tuesday 14th August – Nighttime visit Palacio Abacial – Free entry to the musuem from 9pm to 11pm
  • Wednesday 15th August –  Nighttime visit Palacio Abacial – Free entry to the musuem from 9pm to 11pm
  • Friday 18th August – Mota Fortress Nighttime visit – Guided tour around the castle with a few surprises along the way. 6 euros.
  • Saturday 19th August – The Siege of Qalat Banu Said – A nighttime tour explains the underground tunnels and mines. Learn how the final battle took place and how Alcala la Real changed from Muslim rule to Christian rulers after this siege. 6 euros
  • Friday 25th August – Intrigue at the Abbey – Find clues with codes and maps. Discover who was the 16th century murderer? Can you resolve the crime? 15 euros
  • Saturday 26th August – Mota Fortress Mysteries – Hear some of the mysteries and legends surrounding this 13th century castle. The nighttime atmosphere makes this event quite magical. Guided tour around the Fortess with actors.  6 euros
  • Friday 1st September – Rescue in the Musuem – Escape from the museum without being caught. Will you suceed the challenge?  8 euros

For bookings & availabilty contact by email alcalalareal@tuhistoria.org  or Call Tu Historia + 34 953 10 27 17 

  • Children under 12 years old are free.
  • All activites begin at the Information point at Fortaleza de la Mota Castle. This is a coloured building just up a few steps from the castle car park.
  • More information>  Tu Historia

Paseo Alcala La Real

What to see in Alcala la Real

As this border town has such an historical importance in Andalusia. There are lots of monuments and historic buildings to see as you wander around the main town.

Forteleza de la Mota, Alcazaba & Iglesia Mayor Abacial are the main monument in Alcala La Real all set up on the hill.  Other sights are located in the old town itself.

  • Palacio Abacial is the Abbots Palace. This building now holds the Museum of Alcalà la Real. Head here for Tourist Information and see the archaelogical museum on the 1st floor.
    • Open daily from 10am to 5.30pm
      Closed 25th Dec, 1st and 6th Jan. Open mornings only 10am to 2pm on 24th 31st Dec and 5th Jan.
  • Monumental Fountains in Alcala la Real. Pilar on Calle Oteros dates from 1746, the Pilar de la Mora and the Pilar de los Álamos dating back to 1552

Museo Alcala La Real

  • Convent of San José de los Capuchinos (17th century), now houses municipal offices + library. This is close to Paseo de los Alamos, a wide tree lined avenue.
  • Church of San Domingo de Silos, in Gothic-mudéjar style (1341), with a 16th-century tower
  • Church of San Juan (15th-18th centuries)
  • Iglesia de las Angustias from 1747.
  • Iglesia de Consolación (16th-17th centuries)
  • Iglesia de San Antonio (1753)
  • Baroque Style Convent of the Encarnación (1630)

Centre of Alcala La Real

Where to Stay

I stayed at the Hotel Torrepalma, in the centre of town. This practical 3 star is very comfortable and has good air conditioning.

Breakfast is in the cafe downstairs which is also open all day for food and drinks. Its popular with locals so it makes a pleasant atmosphere.

Where to Eat in Alcala La Real

Bar El Olivo – This Spanish style bar has lots of outdoor seating in a small park off the main street in Alcala La Real.  Portions are generous and it gets busy.

One of the popular local dishes is called Carne a la Secretaria which is a meat stew made with vegetables. I didnt have this as it was so hot on the day I visited. However I will check it out on my next visit.

The Tortas de Nata y nueces (cream cakes with walnuts) are the local delicacy, sold at La Purisima cake shop and others in the town I didnt try these either. But it´s on my list.

Useful information

  • 71 kilometres (44 mi) from Jaén
  • 53 kilometres (33 mi) from Granada
  • Nearest Airport. Granada GRX (Routes with Easyjet, Vueling, Iberia, B.A)

Mota Fortress Alcala la Real