Jaén is one of the eight provincial capitals of Andalusia. It can be visited in a day of sightseeing; and everything is relatively close so you can walk to all parts of the city. In this article I will tell you what to see and do in Jaén in a day.
- 🗺 Things to do and see in Jaén
- 📍 Guided tour around Jaén
- 📍 Jaén Cathedral
- 📍 Jewish quarter of Jaén
- 📍 Arab Baths
- 📍 Museum of Arts and Customs
- 📍 Palace of Villardompardo
- 📍 Jaén Air Raid Shelter
- 📍 Arch of San Lorenzo
- 📍 Mysteries and legends tour of Jaén
- 📍 Jaén Provincial Council
- 📍 Castle of Santa Catalina
- 📍 Parador of Jaén
- 📍 Minor Basilica of San Ildefonso
- 📍 Church of San Bartolomé
- 📍 Provincial Museum and Iberian Museum of Jaén
- 📍 Mozarabic Way from Jaén
- 📍 Parque del Seminario
- 📍 Map with all the places to see in Jaén
🗺 Things to do and see in Jaén
Jaén is one of the cities that almost nobody thinks about when travelling to the south.
Yes, it is true that it has some hellish slopes. And it doesn’t have a beach or a place as spectacular as the Alhambra in Granada. But even so, Jaén deserves a day of sightseeing in the capital, and a few more to discover all the charming spots hidden in the province. When you come, you’ll want to come back!
📍 Guided tour around Jaén
This is the activity I like to recommend the most when visiting a city for the first time. Although you can visit everything on your own, if you don’t have much time or if you like a guide to tell you interesting facts and stories, a guided tour is the best option to visit Jaén.
📍 Jaén Cathedral
This is the best known building in the city of Jaén. It stands on the Plaza de Santa María and is the main representative symbol of the city.
Inside it houses one of the oldest faces of Christ. The Holy Face is a cloth that, on the way to Calvary, Veronica gave to Jesus to wipe his face. So that his face was impregnated on it. It is kept in the Main Chapel, in a maximum security safe with seven keys.
One of the peculiarities of Jaén Cathedral is that it is surrounded by balconies. This is due to the relic we have just mentioned. In the past, several days a year the Holy Face was shown through all the balconies so that the faithful could see it.
Jaén Cathedral also has a legend within its walls. On the canvas of the Holy Family, known as The Virgin of the Scissors, there is a sewing box with a pair of scissors and a needle. Tradition has it that whoever finds the scissors can make a wish to the Virgin and she will grant it.
Entrance to Jaén Cathedral, one of the main places to see in Jaén, costs 6€. I recommend a guided tour of the Cathedral which costs €10 and includes entrance and a tour with a guide who is a specialist in art and history.
📍 Jewish quarter of Jaén
In the old quarter you will find this network of narrow streets (many of them steep) that used to form the old Jewish quarter of Jaén. The Monastery of Santa Clara, the Chapel of San Andrés, the Plaza de los Huérfanos or the Arab Baths are some of the places to visit in this area.
The Jewish Quarter of Jaén, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, has been part of the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters since 2005.
📍 Arab Baths
The Arab Baths are one of the main places to see in Jaén. They are located in the basements of the Villardompardo Palace. They date back to the 11th century and are one of the largest and best preserved Arab baths in Europe.
They are made up of four rooms: the vestibule, the cold room, the warm room and the hot water room. If you want to visit Arab baths where you can bathe, there are several in Granada and one in Cordoba that I highly recommend.
Entrance to the Arab Baths of Jaén is free, although you can also hire a guided tour to explore the entire Villardompardo Palace, including the baths.
📍 Museum of Arts and Customs
Also located in the Villardompardo Palace is the Museum of Arts and Customs of Jaén. It is made up of various rooms that house objects related to life throughout history in the city. There are old horse-drawn carriages, ceramics from Úbeda and men’s and women’s costumes, such as the “pastira” costume, typical of Jaén.
Admission to the Museum of Arts and Customs of Jaén is free.
📍 Palace of Villardompardo
The Villadompardo Palace is located in the Plaza Sta. Luisa de Marillac. Inside it houses the Museum of Arts and Customs and the Arab Baths of Jaén. It is formed by a central courtyard that gives shape to the building. In addition to the museum and the baths, you can visit the Palace Chapel, the Dome of the Assumption and the Museums of Naïf Art.
Entrance to the Villardompardo Palace is free, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Jaén.
📍 Jaén Air Raid Shelter
Located in the Plaza de Santiago, it is free to enter and is a must-see in Jaén. It is one of the many air raid shelters in Spain that were built as a result of bombing during the Spanish Civil War.
It is a place that leaves no one indifferent because of the tragic event on which it is based. And I think that Miguel Hernández knew how to capture it very well with this phrase: “children, women and old people who had committed no other crime than being born and living”.
📍 Arch of San Lorenzo
This is all that remains of the Church of San Lorenzo, built between the 13th and 14th centuries.
📍 Mysteries and legends tour of Jaén
Jaén is a place with so many stories that even Cuarto Milenio has come to investigate some of them in the province. One of the most famous is that the ghost of an orphan boy haunted Jaén Cathedral. If you like this kind of stories, I recommend you the tour of mysteries and legends of Jaén.
📍 Jaén Provincial Council
It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Jaén, for my taste. You cannot visit the inside of the building, as it belongs to the Diputación de Jaén. But they do allow you to enter the cloister.
📍 Castle of Santa Catalina
The Castle of Santa Catalina is one of the best places to see in Jaén.
It can be visited all year round and the entrance fee is 3.5€ for adults. However, on Wednesday afternoons the visit is free. From the Castle of Santa Catalina you get one of the best panoramic views of Jaén and the city’s Cathedral.
Although the old fortress was once made up of three fortifications, only the Alcázar Nuevo remains. The current Santa Catalina Castle is made up of six towers: Torre del Homenaje, Torre de las Damas, two Albarranas Towers, Torre de la Vela and Torre de Troneras.
📍 Parador of Jaén
The Parador de Jaén is located next to the Castle of Santa Catalina. It belongs to the Red de Paradores de Turismo de España. And it has the most beautiful cafeteria in the city of Jaén.
The building preserves its original architectural structure, with stone walls and high, arched ceilings. In addition, all the furniture is in a classic style which gives it that touch of feeling that you are travelling back in time.
This castle-hotel has a swimming pool and the rooms have spectacular views. If you don’t want to stay the night here, I recommend going for a drink to visit the inside of the Parador de Jaén.
📍 Minor Basilica of San Ildefonso
It is located in the Plaza de San Ildefonso and each of its façades represents a different architectural style: Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical. Inside lie the remains of one of the most important architects of the Spanish Renaissance: Andrés de Vandelvira.
Admission to the Basilica of San Ildefonso is free, and the opening hours change according to the time of year.
📍 Church of San Bartolomé
One of the oldest churches in Jaén, it was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. It is located in the Plaza de San Bartolomé and admission is free. It is also open every day of the week, at different times, for cultural visits.
📍 Provincial Museum and Iberian Museum of Jaén
Both are located on the Paseo de la Estación and admission is free.
The Jaén Iberian Museum is the only one in the world dedicated to this culture. And the Provincial Museum houses works by Picasso and Goya, among others. If you travel to Jaén, these museums are not to be missed.
In addition, there are also 2-hour guided tours to get to know them with a guide who will explain and show you the most important objects in their collections.
📍 Mozarabic Way from Jaén
The Jacobean Association of Jaén has managed to signpost the entire route of the Mozarabic Way starting at the Cathedral of Jaén. It runs through Torredelcampo, Jamilena, Martos and Alcaudete until it reaches the province of Cordoba. From there, pilgrims head to Mérida to follow the Silver Route to Santiago de Compostela.
📍 Parque del Seminario
From here you have a beautiful panoramic view of the Cathedral. I tried to look for old photos I had of this place, but I couldn’t find them. So -until I go back to Jaén for a day of sightseeing- you’ll have to visit it to discover the views in first person.