The City of the Border.
Fortress of la Mota:
This monumental space was the key, guard and defense of the kingdoms of Castile.
We propose you to venture among its walls. Through its strategic doors, touring its buildings and outbuildings, and knowing its urban fabric, its Alcazaba, Iglesia Mayor Abacial, Wineries, Adarve, Roads, Houses…
The majestic image of the Fortress of la Mota warns the traveler of the historical importance of this border city. Alcalá means fortified population. Its geographical position confirms the great strategic value it had since ancient times. In this sense, the set of watchtowers that can be seen throughout the municipality, highlights the importance of this space in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age.
Alcalá la Real, the cradle of Juan Ruiz de Cisneros, better known as the Archpriest of Hita, lies southwest of the province of Jaén, 71 kms from the capital, 53 kms from the city of Granada, 110 kms from Cordoba and 140 kms from Málaga. With a population of 22,129 inhabitants, the municipality has ascribed 16 districts, in these villages they live around 7,000 people.
A walk through this city will take us to visit, in first person, the Monumental Set of the Fortress of La Mota. Located in a magical enclave at 1033m. on the level of the sea, this walled space was the key, guard and defense of the kingdoms of Castile. Descending along the Calle Real we will arrive to the majestic Carrera de las Mercedes, where the Palace Abbey Museum will allow us to know the heritage and vestiges of the past of this city. Must visit also the picturesque Barrio de las Cruces, Plaza Arcipreste de Hita and the Church of Consolation, among others.
Alcalá la Real is a land of wines, oil and cherries. This municipality is the home of the known Etnosur Festival, a multi-ethnic cultural exhibition held in mid-July.
The privileged situation of Alcalá la Real, with the continuous flow of people from the most diverse cultures and conditions, has resulted in an enriching exchange of ideas.
In Alcalá la Real and its municipal term there are data of human occupation from the Palaeolithic period. It is likely that this city was one of the last sites where Neanderthals inhabited. From the Late Bronze Age, small Iberian settlements are found, such as the nuclei of La Gineta and La Mesa de la Ribera Alta. In Roman times we have the first evidence of occupation of Cerro de la Mota, although it may be the case that these buildings have been able to destroy the previous Iberian strata.
In 713, with the Muslim conquest, the city is renamed Qal’at, an Araba word for a fortified population. It is around the year 1000, when the watchtower of La Mota becomes a real fortress, appearing as one of the most important nuclei of Al-Andalus under the aegis of the Banu Said family. Subsequently, after the dissolution of the Caliphate and its split in the Kingdoms of Taifas, Qal’at became a stronghold of the Nasrid kingdom from which numerous incursions were made against Jaen and other Castilian borderlands. Finally it was conquered in 1341 (century and a half before the fall of the Nasrid kingdom) by Alfonso XI, who granted the title to him of La Real that since then it appears in his toponym. From this moment on his shield is a key, symbol of its strategic importance. In 1432 King John II granted him the status of a city.
After the conquest of the kingdom of Granada, Alcalá la Real loses its strategic value, which is when the gradual migration of the population from Cerro de la Mota to the plain lands located at the foot of it occurs. This process of abandonment of La Mota culminated after the War of Independence and the defeat of the Napoleonic forces, who occupied the Fortress of La Mota from 1810 to 1812, abandoning it after a fire.