Know Alcala la Real!

Things to do in Alcala la Real, visiting the fortress of la Mota and the museum at the Abbey palace.

November 2021

What is this page about

How do I find interesting places to visit? Very simple: I open Google maps and click on cities and villages. I have been living in Spain for 6 years now, and thank God, there are still many places to discover! I always have something to tell you about. Actually, first, we planned to go to Jaén, but we never got there, because we stuck in Alcala la Real for the entire day, and it was worth it!

Things to see in Alcala la Real in one day

So, I clicked on the map of this town, and I saw a photo of the fortress of la Mota. I have seen many fortresses and castles, but this one attracted my attention immediately, it was just special. Upon arrival we were both lucky and not with weather conditions. Drizzling rain began suddenly and was accompanied by a strong wind, but the photos we made turned out to be so mystic! This place remained in memory as a mystery castle. Entrance fee to the Fortress of la Mota is 6 euros per person, and the price also includes entrance to the museum. You can buy a ticket at the entrance of the castle. We were in October 2021 there with practically no other visitors. Time travel is about to begin!

Entrance and walking to the fortress of la Mota
These premises served as a pharmacy, as well as a custom house, where all arriving goods were taxed.

History of the fortress of la Mota

  • According to some authors, the castle watchtower was built in the beginning of the VIII century, during the reign of Granada of Badis Aben Habuz, as a defense against the raids of the Baeza troops, who were based in the nearby castle of Lokubín.
  • During the reign of the Almohads the fortress suffered from attacks of the Berbers.
  • After the Las Navas de Tolosa battle (1212), the fortress was suffering from various attacks, which led to the fact that the castle alternately passed into the hands of Christians and Muslims.
  • La Mota castle was the last great defensive stronghold before accessing Granada, from Jaén and Córdoba, its conquest was not easy for Castilla. In 1213, for the first time, Alfonso VIII took it from the Almohads.
  • After the Christian reconquest in the beginning of the XIII century, the fortress was taken by the Arabs again until, in 1341, Alfonso XI definitively made them capitulated.
Major Abbey Church in Alcala la Real
  • Alfonso XI ordered the destruction of the main mosque and building of the first Abbey church in Gothic-Mudejar style, with an independent territory and royal patronage.
  • In the XIX century, French troops restored the fortress and built the wall from the fortress to the prison tower, surrounding the territory of occupation, which included the Major Abbey Church.
  • In 1812, at the end of the War of Independence, the church, which was used as a warehouse, was set on fire, which led to collapse of a part of the store and explosion of the powder magazine. The destruction of the fortress was deteriorated by artillery strikes during the Spanish Civil War. Restoration has been carried out not long ago.
  • In 1931, La Mota fortress and the abbey church were declared as a national monument, and in 1967 Alcala la Real was declared as the Historic Artistic Complex.
Inside of the Major Abbey Church
Tower of Homage
Walking on the towers of the castle of la Mota
View to the old town
Wine cellar in the basement of a residential building
Catapult reconstruction
View from Alcala la Real town to the la Mota fortress

After visiting the fortress, we went down by car to the town and parked within walking distance from the center. The entrance to the museum is included in the price of the entrance ticket to the fortress, and, I think a visit to the museum is a must-visit if you want to dive fully into the history of this town.

Museum of Alcala la Real

A sign at the entrance to the abbey palace (the museum is inside), using these indicators you can walk through all the sights of the town. "Manor houses combined and rebuilt in 1791. Baroque style in cornices and attics. Arcaded patio of three floors."

This small museum reveals us history since the Triassic period (the geological period of the Mesozoic era), presents us exhibits from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, Paleolithic and Neolithic, Stone and Bronze ages, Roman and Iberian eras. Next you can see some exhibits of this outstanding museum.

1) Fossils of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Ammonites is a group of extinct mollusk that dominated the seas during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. They represented a shell shaped like a spiral (205 million years).

2) A piece of a lead pipe used for water supply of a Roman city (1st century BC).

3) Important objects related to the Roman mythology have been found on the territory of Alcala la Real. This marble sculpture of Hercules was discovered in the end of the XIX century in the garden of an old Franciscan monastery of the town. This figure represents a hero and demigod, the son of Jupiter (1st century BC).

4) Paleopathology is a science (a section of paleontology) that studies the nature of diseases of ancient people. From an evolutionary point of view, science demonstrates that all the large groups of diseases from which we suffer today have origins from very ancient times and have been a part of our life almost from the origin of life.

Summary: I believe Alcala la Real is a must-see if you are driving around the Jaén area. This is so incredible how much history this little-known town contains. By the way, we had lunch at Café Bar Río de Oro, we stopped there by accident, but the lunch was quite good (Spanish food) and the service was friendly (in Spain, it is about how lucky you are, you need to know where to go!).