Promotional video courtesy of YouTube
A very medieval town, dominated by the Moorish castle, called La Mota, Alcala la Real is in the south of the province of Jaen. It's close to the border with the provinces of both Granada and Cordoba and is just over one and a half hour's drive north of Malaga, the Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean coastline.
I'm telling you this so you can start planning your visit - if a visit is what you would like. We intend to find a house big enough to take visitors. I'd prefer to have visitors I know or at least who sort of know me - which is nearly all of you. You will be welcome!
All around Alcala la Real is land on which olives are grown - and olive trees on the hillsides look absolutely spectacular. Since we lived in Andalucia - more the 14 years ago now - more and more olive groves have been planted and I was a little disappointed to see the real 'patchwork' effect had turned from a mixture of olives, native trees and empty, fallow land to olives as far as the eye could see. Raquel informed us that farmers had abused the grants available for planting olives up to a few years ago - they had been paid by the number of trees they planted and had been cutting down indigenous oaks in order to squeeze a few more olives in. Now, they are being more closely regulated and will be fined if they so much as lean on an oak - even if it's just to mop their brows. Hopefully, the landscape will adapt itself again before too long - some of the olives are planted in places where they can't possibly be harvested or tended to ... on steep cliffs tops and tiny patches of isolated land. Silly farmers.
Being proud of their medieval background and having a lovely castle to 'play' with - the authorities in the town organise a medieval fair every year and I found this spectacular photo on the 'Blog de Alcala'. (Apologies that I'm not putting the accent on the final 'a' every time - it should have one and I am mentally pronouncing the name with the accent on the last 'a' when I write it, so you must say it 'Alca Laah de Real'. Thank you.)
I hope I am whetting your appetite a little. Part of this attempt to sell Alcala la Real is to convince myself that it's a 'good' place to go to. It is a little scary; it's not as if we have done a lot of research other than reading things on the internet and driving through the place ..once. However, I think it looks very nice and I have always been on the medieval side of things - I like Chaucer and illustrated manuscripts and shawms and sackbutts. I am sure I am going to like Alcalá la Real too.