Jaen Province is probably the least visited province in Andalucia, not least because there is little information relating to the province available on the Internet or in travel guides and the Tourist Board are perhaps not as proactive as in other provinces.
So, what might you expect? For nature lovers Jaen province contains the largest Parque Natural in Spain, Sierra de Cazorla, Segura Y Las Villas. The 209,920 hectare parque is located in the east of the province and is stunning. Limestone mountains, heavily eroded into karstic formations, with deep gullies, waterfalls and valleys, all covered in Corsican pine is a haven for hundreds of species of plants, reptiles, fish, birds and animals. It also contains the headwaters of the mighty Rio Guadalquivir, the lifeblood of the whole of Andalucia. There are three more natural parks to see, each as stunning in its own way, Despenaperros – the smallest park in Andalucia, Sierra de Andujar and Sierra Magina. Outdoor enthusiasts will find as much adventure and excitement as they can cope with.
The centre of the province is a plain, very hot and dry during the summer, cold during the winter, bisected east to west by the Rio Guadalquivir. Millions of olive trees in regimented rows stretch from horizon to horizon. Jaen Province provides 60% of all the oil produced in Spain, making it one of the largest producers in the world. Thinly populated, small villages and towns dot the landscape and you can drive for kilometres without seeing another vehicle.
To the north and south the Sierra Morena and Sierra Magina almost complete the ring of mountains around the central plain. Only to the west does the plain descend into Cordoba Province.
Historians should have a field day. The province has a rich history of human occupation from pre Neolithic times. Iberians, Romans and Moors all had a hand in creating the architecture and traditions that are still reflected in the people today. The people by the way are as friendly and hospitable as any you may meet.
As an alternative to a holiday on the coast, Jaen has much to offer. Just a word of warning, make sure the attraction or museum is actually open when you want to visit.
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