A town of two hills, it is not by chance that Alcalá la Real is located in the centre of influence for the area. The natural strategic defensive position is occupied by the fortress of La Mota, the foundations of which date from Roman times but which experienced an expansion under the influence of the Moors. The fortress dominates the surrounding landscape and ensured that the Arabic rulers of the time kept their independence for more than 700 years.
The land occupied by the modern town of Alcalá la Real has remains of human habitation that date back to prehistoric times. Although the architects of the Roman Empire left their mark, the dominant civilisation was that of the Moors who, from the 7th century until the defeat of the last caliphate of Spain in Granada in 1492, were the ruling defensive and social force.
The fortified city of Alcalá was, from the 7th century the historical seat of the Yemení de los Yahsib tribe. Once the Moors became established in the Iberian Peninsula, inter-factional feuding began; the common enemy had been defeated and human nature took over. The Spanish Moorish kingdoms split into feudal divisions, or Taifas, independent Arabic States within a State. In Alcalá, the Yemení de los Yahsib tribe achieved independence from the Almorávides and in the 12th century the town became known as Qal’t Banu Said or Alcalá de Ben Zayde.
After the defeat of the Moors in 1492, and until the late 19th century, Alcalá lived its most intense moments. During this time the churches and other grand buildings that adorn the town were constructed and, with the Moorish influence as foundation, Christian architecture rises up, as if in celebration of liberation.
The current town fathers of Alcalá la Real promote an atmosphere of discovery of the wonders that have their roots in the town’s long history. Since the 12th Century the town has expanded between the two hills that comprise its borders, Las Cruces and La Mota and its white-washed buildings merge with some of the most beautiful countryside in Andalucia. From the castle walls the views across the surrounding hillsides offers a breathtaking spectacle that has changed little, apart from the intensive land use for the cultivation of olives, since the times when 13th century Moorish sentinels scoured the horizons for approaching armies intent on their destruction.