Fortress of La Mota
Located on a magical site, this site was the key, guard and defence of the kingdoms of Castile.
We invite you to go beyond its walls. Enter its doorways, visit its buildings and rooms, as the Citadel, the Main Abbey Church, the restored walled enclosure, the stately homes, cellars, etc. To help you on your adventure, you will be given a descriptive plan of the enclosure and an interesting audio guide available in various languages.
More information: Visit to Fortress of La Mota.
The majestic sight of the Fortress of La Mota indicates to the traveller the historic importance of this frontier city. Alcalá means fortified city. Its geographical location confirms the enormous strategic value it has had over the centuries In this regard, the number of lookout points scattered all over this municipality bear witness to the importance of this location during the transition from the middle ages to the modern age.
Alcalá la Real, the birthplace of Juan Ruiz de Cisneros, better known as the Arcipreste de Hita, is located in the southwest corner of the province of Jaen, 71 kms. from the capital, 53 kms from the city of Granada, 110 kms from Córdoba and 140 kms from Málaga. With a population of 22,129 inhabitants, the municipality comprises 16 districts, with around 7,000 inhabitants.
A wander around this city takes us first to visit the Monumental Group of the Fortress of La Mota. Located on a magical site 1,033 m above sea level, this walled enclave was the door, the guardian and the defender of the kingdoms of Castile. Walking down the Calle Real we arrive at the noble street of Carrera de las Mercedes, where the Palace-Museum of the Abbot will acquaint us with the rich legacy and past of this city. Among other places that must be visited are the picturesque Barrio de las Cruces, the Squire of the Arcipreste de Hita and the Church of La Consolación.
Alcalá la Real is a land of wine, olive oil and cherries. The well-known Etnosur Festival takes place in this city, a multi-ethnic cultural fair held in mid-July.
The privileged location of Alcalá la Real, with its continuous flow-through of people of all cultures and conditions, has translated into a rich exchange of ideas.
In Alcalá la Real and its municipality, there are indications of human occupation since Palaeolithic times. This city may be one of the last locations with vestiges of Neanderthal Man. There is evidence of lesser ranking Iberian settlements dating back to the latter Bronze age, such as the settlements La Gineta and La Mesa de la Ribera Alta. From Roman times we have the first evidence of the occupation of the hill of La Mota, although it is possible that those constructions might have been erected on former Iberian structures.
In 713, with the Islamic conquest, the city became known as Qal'at, an Arabic term meaning a fortified town. Around the year 1000 is when the watchtower of La Mota developed into a true fortress, soon to become one of the most important centres of Al-Andalus under the aegis of the Banu Said family. After this, following the dissolution of the Caliphate and its split into the Taifa Kingdoms, Qal'at became an important centre in the Nazari kingdom from where many attacks against Jaen and other Castilian frontier lands were launched. It was eventually conquered in 1341 (one and a half centuries before the fall of the Nazari reign) by Alfonso XI, who bestowed on the city the title of La Real which has henceforward been part of its name. As of that time, its shield bears the image of a key, a symbol of its strategic importance. In 1432, King Juan II granted it the status of a city.
Following the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada, Alcalá la Real lost its strategic value, and it is then that the population gradually began migrating from the Hill of La Mota to the flatlands at its foot. The process of abandonment of the Hill of La Mota came to an end after the War of Independence and the defeat of the Napoleonic troops, who had occupied the Fortress of La Mota from 1810 to 1812, having abandoned it following a fire.
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