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Alcalá la Real, Spain

Country Spain
Province Jaén
Municipality Alcalá la Real
 - Total 262 km2 (101.2 sq mi)
Elevation 918 m (3,012 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 22,129
 - Density 84.5/km2 (218.9/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
View on the city with the Town Hall in the foreground and La Mota fortress in the background.

Alcalá la Real is a city located in the province of Jaén, Spain. According to the 2006 census (INE), the city has a population of 22,129 inhabitants.



Alcalá la Real is situated at 71 km from the provincial capital, Jaén, and at 53 km from Granada, on the slopes of a hill in the Sierra Magina known as La Mota. This is commanded by a large Moor around which, until some centuries ago, the revolved the settlmement.

It is connected to the Guadalquivir valley by the Guadajoz affluent.

Aerial view of the La Mota fortress.


Remains from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age show the human presence in the area in Prehistoric times. It has been hypotized that here was one of the last places inhabited by the Neanderthal Man. Despite the presence of remains from the Iberians, dating to the late Bronze Age, the first traces of urban structures (perhaps identifiable with the ancient Sucaelo) date to the Roman times. Archaeological findings include a marble statue of Hercules, now in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain at Madrid.

After the Muslim conquest in 713, the town was renamed Qal'at (قلعة), an Arabic term meaning "fortified city". In the following centuries, Umayyad caliph Al-Hakam II (971-976) had a series of watchtowers built to defend the city from the Viking/Norman incursions; today 12 of the 15 original towers remain. Around the year 1000 the main of these tower, the Mota, became a true fortress, one of the mainstays of the Al-Andalus defence against the Christian Reconquista.

After the dissolution of the caliphate and its fragmentation in a series of taifa small kingdoms, Qa'lat was a stronghold of the Kingdom of Granada. From here numerous raids were launched against Jaén and other frontier areas of the Kingdom of Castile. The city was finally captured on 15 August 1341 by Alfonso XI of Castile, who conceded it the title of "Real" (Royal), which after that was part of its name.

Alcalá remained under the jurisdiction of Jorquera until 1364, when king Peter I gave it the privilege of a Government Council, under the royal crown and the state of Villena. It was elevated to the rank of city in 1432 by king John II. After a flourishing period, the conquest of Granada in 1492 stripped Alcalá of its strategical importance. The population started to move from the upper hill to the now safer slopes, thus gradually creating the current settlement. The city remained under the marquisses of Villena until the early 16th century, when the centralism introduced by the Catholic Kings started to quench the baronal power, although the marquisate remained in existence until the 19th century. The depopulation of the La Mota hill ended during the Peninsular War against the Napoleonic troops which occupied the fortress from 1810 and 1812, and set the upper city to fire when retreating, causing also the cathedral's roof to crumble down.

During the Spanish Civil War, Alcalá was conquered by the Nationalists, who held it until the end of the conflict. This did not save the city a large series of destruction, as the front remained stuck nearby for the whole war.

Main sights

  • La Mota fotress, of Islamic origin, on the hill with the same name
  • Alcazaba, a fortified precinct with a triangular shape, with three towers
  • Murallas, a line of walls with several towers,
  • Palacio Abacial (18th century), now housing the Museum of Alcalà la Real
  • Pilar de la calle Oteros, a monumental plinth for water from 1746
  • Pilar de la Mora
  • Pilar de los Álamos (1552)
  • Pilar de la Toquela (1517)
  • Roman bridge on the Guadalcoton river, nearby the city
  • Batmale House (Early 19th century)
  • Casa Pineda, a Muslim edifice in stone, recently restored
  • Ayuntamento (Town Hall)
  • Convent of san José de los Capucinos (17th century), now housing municipal offices and a library
  • Iglesia Mayor Abacial (main Abbey church) with towers, built in 1530
  • 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 ("Church of the Pains") from 1747.
  • Iglesia de Consolación (16th-17th centuries)
  • Church of San Antonio (1753)
  • Convento de la Encarnación (1630), in Baroque style


The economy is mostly based on olives and oil production. Other resources include cherries, shepherding, craftsmanship, plasti industry and metalworks.

The city's economy is growing at reduced speed if compared to the neighouring towns, and numerous young people from Alcalá la Real moves to Granada in search of job.

External links

Coordinates: 37°27′N 3°55′W / 37.45°N 3.917°W / 37.45; -3.917



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