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Alcaudete, Jaén

From frontier town to olive oil empire

Depending on how you approach, the road leading to Alcaudete can be tortuous, but the views from the surrounding mountains are spectacular. The blue sky acts as a spectacular backdrop to the carefully preserved castle that, since its first stone was laid in the early centuries after the birth of Christ, has witnessed the movement of many feet, seen the passage of many of the makers of history and felt the chill winds of changing times.

The town lies on what is known as the Route of the Caliphates, a recently conceived label given to the trading route used during the height of the splendour of the first arabic caliphate between the capital city of Cordoba and one of the principal ports on the Mediterranean coast, Granada.

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The town was captured peacefully by Tarik (the Arab leader who led the first invasion force which landed at Gibraltar) in 715 A.D. and remained in Moorish hands for much of the next seven hundred years.

Castillo de Alcaudete, Jaén provincia, Route of the Caliphates

During this period of its history, the town was known as Hisn al-Qabdag and was populated by Arabic tribes from many countries around the Mediterranean, including Syrians from Damascus, Arabs and Berbers from what is now Morocco and other Arabic tribes from across the region.

Towards the end of the reconquest of Spain it had the misfortune to be located in what was frontier country, changing hands repeatedly and was finally conquered in 1340 by Alfonso XI, who was ferocious in his ambition to extend the boundaries of his kingdom. He went on not only to extend the limits of his kingdom to the Strait of Gibraltar but then conquered the Kingdom of Algeciras in 1344. And, once he had finished there, he redirected his efforts to fighting the Moorish king of Granada, a war that was not completed until the reign of his successors, the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabell, in 1492.

Castillo de Alcaudete, Jaén provincia, Route of the Caliphates

It is said that The Catholic Kings, Isabelle of Castilla and Ferdinand of Aragón, those who finally reunited all of Spain under one banner, were frequent guests under the roofs of the town. The walls of the fortress, if they could talk, might relate of the armies and kings who have walked here.

They may tell of the presence of El Cid, the legendary eleventh century warrior and of the many contracts, many of which moulded the basis of modern day Spain and that were signed here amidst great pomp and circumstance. Of course they might not, considering such mere split seconds of human emotion to be well below their dignity.

The town, however, is well worth a visit, if not to castles, and offers a wide variety of attractions for those of more discerning tastes.

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This town possesses one of the most spectacular castles of the region. Built onto of pre-existing roman ruins, the castle was built on a hill on the skirts of the mountain, the Sierra Ahillo, where it now has a Christian church for company.

The two structures are testament to the battles fought in the name of religion over a thousand years ago and, even though they are close together, time only seems to have sharpened the difference between them; relics of days that are only now a memory in the stones but whose echoes crowd around, wind looking for a place to rest, within the long silent towers.

Alcaudete has a well-equipped tourist information centre and the people who are charged with providing information, like all of the tourist offices of the region, are helpful and knowledgeable.

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1 Comment

  1. pogie

    A treasure trove of sites, sounds and tastes. I particularly enjoyed walking around the town and tasting some of the great tapas in the bars around the town square.


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