Archive for the Casco Antiguo Category

Jaen – delis and things to buy

Posted in Andalusia, Casco Antiguo, Jaen, Jaen Province, La Victoria, San Ildefonso, Spain with tags , on April 5, 2019 by gannet39

As Jaen has such a good rep for quality ingredients, a visit to the local deli for treats to take home is a must for me. The most famous one in town is Casa Paco.

They have two locations, both of which are top notch and very well stocked with local goodies. The first one is at 12 Paseo de la Estacion.

And the second at 7 Plaza de los Jardinillos (opposite the main post office).


They are both on my map which is here.

I always pick up a few tins of my favourite Ortiz tuna from here.

And always a couple of local prize-winning olive oils. The Paseo de la Estacion branch has a display of the best eight local oils on a special shelf.

Must remember to get some saltcod next time. The term Bacalao Inglés refers to a good quality curing technique which gives the cod a golden colour and harder texture, rather than any appellation of origin.

I’d loved to have taken a big batch of their olives home too but one of the kind ladies said that the plastic tubs would explode in my baggage at an altitude!

Casa Paco are also known for their crisps which they bag on the premises

The toasted almonds are a good buy as well.

If you can’t face climbing the the steep slope to Casa Paco to buy your olive oil then Carniceria Almaden at 7 Calle Manuel Caballero Venzalá is just two blocks from the Hotel Infanta Cristina and also has a good selection of local produce.


Happy shopping!


Jaen – museums and galleries

Posted in Andalusia, Casco Antiguo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , , , on April 4, 2019 by gannet39

These are my experiences of a couple of museums in Jaen. I would also have liked to have seen the Museo Internacional de Art Íbero but it was closed for renovations when I was last in town.

This first museum was my favourite…

Centro Cultural Palacio de Villadompardo, Plaza Santa Luisa de Marillac,

This is by far the most interesting museum in Jaen because you get to see the eleventh century Arabic baths, the Baños Árabes, in the cellar which are apparently the biggest and best preserved in Europe.

Entrance to the museum is free but you’re not allowed to take pictures, except of the baths.

The museum is located in a lovely old fifteenth century palace. It was built over the Banos Arabes which were only rediscovered in 1913.

The other museum displays aren’t that exciting, unless you like looking at old workman’s tools, ceramics and children’s toys.

There was also a temporary photography exhibition when I was there. This picture showing the realities of the Almadraba, the ancient but modernised method for catching blue-fin tuna, caught my eye.

I also liked this picture showing the traditional process of making pork products.

The palace also houses the International Museum of Naïve Art. The museum (three rooms) is also named after Manuel Moral, a local artist famous for his depictions of the countryside in Jaen province.

On Wikipedia, naïve art is defined as “visual art that is created by a person who lacks the formal education and training that a professional artist undergoes (in anatomy, art history, technique, perspective, ways of seeing)”. The Wikipedia post also adds that “When this aesthetic is emulated by a trained artist, the result is sometimes called primitivism, pseudo-naïve artor faux naïve art”.

Much of what was on display was a bit too childlike for my taste but there are some really beautiful pieces, particularly those by Moral.

I was told sternly to stop taking photos after this (it was okay at the other place below) but there were many more nice paintings.

I can also recommend the view of the town and the castle from the terrace outside the museum café on the top floor of the building. Video here.

Museo de Jaen, 29 Paseo de la Estacion,

Entry is free to this combined museum and art gallery and you are allowed to take pictures without a flash.

It’s housed in another old palace towards the bottom of the hill, so quite easy to get to from the Hotel Cristina Infanta.

Here are a few quirky pieces in the archaeological sections that took my fancy.

My favourite piece was this Iron Age fibula (brooch) depicting a man on horseback hunting wild animals.

Upstairs there is an art gallery.

A line drawing by Picasso was the highlight for me.

There were a few other paintings and sculptures that caught my eye. Click to enlarge.

So not the most exciting choice of museums but okay for killing time if you need something to do. There are some interesting developments happening though. Just two blocks away from the Hotel Infanta Cristina, between the ends of Calle Miguel Castillejo and Avenida de Madrid, is an overgrown plot of land that is boarded off from the new builds around it. Archaeologists have found the remains of a settlement with some unusual circular buildings dating back to 3000BC but excavations haven’t started yet.

If I had a car I’d really like to go to the olive oil museum, Museo Terra Oleum, which gets great reviews from people who have been. Not sure how much it would be in a taxi or if there is a bus going there.

Time for a spot of shopping now…

Jaen – wandering around the Casco Antiguo

Posted in Andalusia, Casco Antiguo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , , , , , , , on April 3, 2019 by gannet39

If you have a day or two to explore Jaen you have a number of options. The more exercise minded might want to make an assault on the castle for which I’ve written a separate post. A less strenuous alternative is to wander around the old town but you’ll still have to walk up half the hill to get there. With the latter option you could take in one or two museums along the way, also in a separate post. Here’s the rest…

Jaen is very famous for its Renaissance cathedral Like most other cathedrals in the south of Spain, the Catedral de Jaén was built on the site of the ancient mosque.

Personally I find it quite ugly except for some of the frescoes on the façade on Plaza de Santa María, the cathedral square, which have some interesting details. You can click on the following images to see them in more detail.

The streets to the south of the square plunge sharply giving you fleeting views of the tree covered hills in in the distance.


Heading north west from the square you could take in the Arco de San Lorenzo on Calle Almendros Aguilar. The arch is all that remains of the old San Lorenzo church. The Gothic-Mudejar interior can be viewed on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, at 11.00 and 13.00, as part of a free guided tour which you can book at the Tourist Office at Calle Maestra (minimum five people).

Further north is Barrio de Santa Cruz, the location of La Judería which was the medieval Jewish ghetto The main streets are Callejón del Gato, Calle del Rostro, Calle Santa Cruz and Calle de los Huérfanos.

There’s not a lot to see in terms of physical sights but wandering around the narrow streets quite atmospheric, especially when you imagine its time as a walled ghetto. The ghetto was a means of protecting Jewish customs and also as a defence against possible attack from enemies.

At the end of Calle de los Huérfanos is a small square called Plaza de los Huérfanos which was the location of one of the two gates into the ghetto, the Puerta Baeza. There are various plaques and installations here that commemorate the presence of the Jewish community in Jaen for over twelve centuries.

On the edge of La Judería is the Fuente De Los Caños, a public fountain dating from 1569.

From here head a little further north to Palacio de Villardompardo where you can see the Baños Arabes www.bañ in the cellar (see my separate post on museums).

In terms of more recent architecture, there are a few nice buildings around…

The first building on Calle Maestra, the main street leading off the cathedral square, is this quirky little place on the corner. It was renovated in 2015 so I’m looking forward to having a nosey inside.


Another nice house I’ve seen backs onto Plaza del Pósito and has its front door on Calle Bernabé Soriano.

This nice building is at 18 Calle Bernabé Soriano.

This post is a work in progress so I’ll be adding to it on my next trip. Museums next!

Jaen – Casco Antiguo – tapas bars off Calle Maestra

Posted in Andalusia, Casco Antiguo, Jaen, Jaen Province, Spain with tags , , , , , on December 1, 2015 by gannet39

When it comes to tapas, many of the Jiennenses seem to favour the bars in the old town, especially those on the streets just below and along from the cathedral square Plaza Santa Maria. Many of them are hidden in small alleys that are hard to find but I’ll do my best to describe where they are. My Google map might help you too.

A good place to begin your tapeo is along Calle Maestra, the old merchant’s street that starts in the north west corner of Plaza Santa Maria, the cathedral plaza.

La Pena Flamenca (Intermediate B), 11 Calle Maestra

A pretty tiled bar that’s nice for a drink although I haven’t tried the food.


There is a large back room where flamenco shows are held.


Casa Gorron (Elementary A), 7 Calle del Consuelo (second alley on the right off Calle Maestra),

This is an old school taperia, the second oldest in town (1888) beloved by two of my culinary heroes; Sam & Sam Clarke from Moro.


Their local olives are great, as you’d expect. As is Andalusian tradition, you get them, and other little tidbits, free every time you order a drink. The house tipple is a thirty year old wine that is unique to the bar.


I wasn’t able to try the Ajilimole the Sams rave about in this Guardian article but I did enjoy the Judias con Perdiz, aka white beans with partridge (B+).

As you can see in the photo your bill is chalked up on the wooden bar.


Tasca de los Amigos (Elementary A), 10 Calle Bernardo López (third alley on the right off Calle Maestra)

Rough and ready with no charm in terms of décor but very popular with the locals, probably because it’s very good value. Their free tapas are a bit better and more varied than elsewhere too in my opinion.


La Manchega (Intermediate A), 8 Calle Bernardo López (third alley on the right off Calle Maestra, back entrance on both Calle Arco del Consuelo)

This is the oldest taperia in Jaen, since 1886, so two years older than its neighbour Casa Gorron. Good, simple tapas and atmosphere in spades.


When I was there in 2013 I noticed the waiters were letting people come behind the bar and go down some stairs. It turned out there’s a restaurant in the cellar so I came back to try it in 2017.

As you’d expect there’s a bit of a musty old smell but it’s an interesting environment. I had a miscommuniction with the waiter and got a Revuelto de Jamon y Habas without any ham, so it was just scrambled eggs with broad beans. It was still okay but not much to look at (B).

A good place for groups but the tapas bar upstairs is better for the lone diner.

Bar La Barra (Intermediate B+), 7 Calle Cerón (at the end of the alleys, parallel street to Calle Maestra)

This is a favourite bar of mine as I really like the vibe and people who work there. It’s not as old as the others but their collection of quirky antique paraphernalia makes the bar quite atmospheric.

The free tapas I got here were some excellent pork scratchings (A) and some moist black pudding in a butty (B+).

I was introduced to the Rossini cocktail here. An alternative to a Bellini, it’s a mix of sparkling wine and strawberry puree. Very nice, must make it for a garden party (B+). Recipe here. The bar also sells its own homemade vermouth.


Calle Maestra and the alleys off it are my favourite area for a tapeo (tapas crawl) in Jaen. Not to be missed.

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