This tour begins with eight main authors of universal dimension given by the depth of their works: Jorge Manrique, Santa Teresa de Jesús, San Juan de la Cruz, Antonio Machado, Federico García Lorca, Miguel Hernández, Juan Eslava Galán and Antonio Muñoz Molina.
Pre-Renaissance authors, mystics, belonging to the generations of 98, 27 and Planeta Awards. Great writers with a common source of inspiration: the lands of Jaén, its people, its traditions and its history, which will help to better understand the role Jaén plays in literature.
In chronological order, the itinerary to discover the province of Jaén through these distinguished writers begins with Jorge Manrique, who takes a prominent place in the history of Spanish literature, especially for “The Coplas on the Death of his Father”, without a doubt his most important work and one of the first poems disseminated by the Spanish press (Zaragoza, 1480).
On the footsteps of the warrior poet we will visit the imposing and beautiful Segura de la Sierra, where he probably was born and spent his childhood.
From here to Chiclana de Segura where we will enjoy the best panoramic views of the entire province. Here he lived a large part of his life, being Commander of Montizón. In addition, you can visit the only Interpretation Center dedicated exclusively to the poet.
It is also advisable to visit Baeza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and where he married his daughter Luisa to Manuel, one of Benavides’ sons, owners of the Jabalquinto Palace and where he was defeated and imprisoned in a fight against Diego Fernández de Córdoba for abusive governing.
Saint Teresa of Jesus
The second writer who will help us rediscover Jaén, is Saint Teresa of Jesus, the first female “Doctor of the Church.” Being a writer in a time when women barely had access to culture speaks of her strong will and personality. Without a doubt, a woman ahead of her time.
Literary speaking, Santa Teresa is considered one of the three mystical writers of highest quality, along with Fray Luis de León andSaint John of the Cross, in the golden age Spanish literature.
Its connection with the province of Jaén comes from its reform work of the Order of Carmel, where the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites of San José del Salvador in Beas de Segura, a land “very delightful and of good temper”, becomes its tenth foundation and first in Andalusia.
Her three-month stay in Beas de Segura captivated and made a great impression on Saint Teresa of Jesus, as evidenced by the constant references to the town or the Jaén located foundation in four of the chapters of the Book of Foundations and in almost thirty letters in her Epistolary.
In Beas, in addition to the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites of San José, where several relics of Saint Teresa and various belongings of the primitive foundation are preserved among other elements of interest, you can visit the “Interpretation Center of the Villa de Beas, XVI century and the Mysticism ”, where the origin of the Beas foundation and the conventual life are explained, with an exhibition of original pieces from the monastery.
Saint John of the Cross
We continue the literary itinerary through Jaén with another mystical writer, Saint John of the Cross, considered by many as the pinnacle of mystical poetry, highlighting the Spiritual Canticle and Dark Night among his lyrical works.
San Juan landed in Jaén in 1578 under the auspices of Saint Teresa and the reform of the Order of Carmel. He was appointed Prior of the El Calvario de Beas de Segura Convent, where he arrived very ill and deteriorated by the hardships of his captivity, reason why he stayed in the Monastery of Discalced Carmelites for a few months. He took this time to confess and lead the nuns spiritually, as he found an ideal environment to write and draw the great schemes of his thinking.
Segura is not the only space within Jaén in the life of the Mystic poet. In Baeza he founded the Barefoot College of Carmel, being its first rector. Later, due to the Carmelite disputes and after being dismissed from all his positions, he arrived as a simple subject at the Convent of La Peñuela (La Carolina), where he fell ill “with fever” and was transferred to Úbeda, where he died at the age of 49.
There are many places tracing Saint John of the Cross in Jaén. The Monastery of Discalced Carmelites and the Mystic Interpretation Center in Beas de Segura; the Museum of Saint John of the Cross, the only one existing in the world, in Úbeda; you can even come across very important autograph manuscripts of Saint John of the Cross, in Andújar (Codex of Andújar) or Jaén (Codex of Jaén).
From mysticism we move on to Antonio Machado, one of the most emblematic poets of the Generation of 98. Machado arrived to Jaén, specifically in Baeza, from Soria, to fill the Chair of French at the General Technical Institute, with the intention of alleviating the unfathomable emptiness of his wife’s death, which had occurred months before.
Within the poetic production of the author, there are many compositions alluding to the province of Jaén. In fact, the Baeza stage is considered the most important, prolific and complete in his personal evolution and of his literary production, being one of his most fruitful periods when important books for his consolidation were shaped, such as Selected Poetry ( 1917), Complete Poems (1899-1917) and the second edition of Solitudes, Galleries and Other Poems (1919).
Baeza, therefore, is the ideal place to enjoy Machado and discover his experiences in a city that ended up taking over the poet. The new casino, his residence on Gaspar Becerra Street, the classroom where he taught at the Institute, Santa María Square and the Cathedral or the mesmerizing landscape outside the walls that serves as an escape, are some of the literary places that will invite you, as did Machado, to walk and read.
This itinerary will also take you to Quesada, whose Sanctuary of the Virgin of Tíscar and the lavish Water Cave(La Cueva del Agua), Machado discovered in one of his frequent excursions to the springs of Guadalquivir.
Federico García Lorca
From the generation of 98 we move to that of 27, nothing more nor less than with Federico García Lorca, a universal poet. Jaén has proven to be transcendental for the author’s literary production, both because of the direction he took, enhancing his vocation as a writer, and because of the work he developed towards a closed and furious aesthetic. The austere Andalusia of Jaén was important to Lorca, as evidenced by his frequent references to the landscape of the upper Guadalquivir, the olive trees or the fact that his Gypsy Ballads (“Romancero Gitano”) was originally called “Ballads of Dark Sorrow in Jaén”(“Romance de la pena negra en Jaén”).
Federico García Lorca’s tie with the province of Jaén began with a study trip to Baeza, where he met Antonio Machado. This fact would be crucial to awaken his vocation as a writer, since in his adolescence the young Lorca felt more affinity for music than for writing.
These student transfers would not be the only ones that Federico García Lorca made to the province, but in 1925 he visited the city of Jaén several times in the company of some friends.
Federico García Lorca will show you another perspective of the Cathedral of Baeza, the Square and the Fountain of Santa María, the Pópulo Square and its Fountain of the Lions, which he describes in an admiring and somber way. And in Jaén, you will discover a more fun Lorca, enjoying with his friends the Cathedral, the Church of Magdalena or the now vanished Aqueduct of Carmen and the Path of the Gardens.
We are still in the generation of 27 with Miguel Hernández, who, despite his ephemeral presence in this province of just 72 days – he reached Jaén on March 2, 1937 and he left it on May 12-, has left a transcendental mark, not only in the territory of Jaén, but in world literature itself, since this brief stay is one of the most prolific of his literary career.
Destined to Jaén in the middle of the Spanish Civil War as commissioner in the propaganda organization “Speaker of the South Front”, his fruitful and significant work in the lands of Granada began on the same day of his arrival, since “Olive Pickers” which has become a provincial hymn in Jaén is dated as early as March 2.
We cannot forget that his wife, Josefina Manresa, was born in the town of Quesada in Granada, where the poet and his wife are honored with the Miguel Hernández-Josefina Manresa Museum, which collects a large part of Miguel Hernández’s legacy in various exhibition rooms. You can also enjoy the Hernandian corners, a series of ceramics that display different verses, drawings by Miguel Hernández or of his wife and the very house where Josefina Manresa was born. The visit to Quesada is therefore essential and, without a doubt, an excellent way to get to know one of the most beautiful and historic towns in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park.
In the capital you will get to see the house where the poet resided with his wife, which was also the headquarters of the South Front, read his poems in the Naranjos Square or experience the feeling of being overwhelmed in the bomb shelter.
While being commissioner for the Southern Front, Miguel Hernández visited Andújar, where he participated in the siege and took over the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Cabeza . Although he was not on this front, he is also related with Lopera, where it is believed that the sonnet “To the international soldier who fell in Spain” could be inspired. This sonnet was written in Jaén, based on knowledge of what happened in the bloody battle of Lopera with the XIV International Brigade.
Both in Andújar and Lopera, you will perceive the suffering of the siege of the Virgen de la Cabeza Sanctuary, visit some of the best preserved trenches from the Civil War or shudder in the historical re-enactment of the bloody Battle of Lopera. In addition, you will be surprised by some illustrious characters who were at the front, such as the British writers, John Cornford and Ralph Fox, belonging to the XIV International Brigade and who are given heartwarming tributes in Lopera. You will discover it in the “garden of the English poets”, in the Casa de la Tercia and in the Interpretation Center installed in one of the best examples of a castle built by the Order of Calatrava in the province of Jaén.
Juan Eslava Galán
To speak of Juan Eslava Galán is to speak of Jaén in capital letters. One of the great ambassadors of the province, whose commitment to his land led him to donate in 2012 more than 8,000 documents from his personal archive to the Institute of Jaén Studies, which he is a member of, setting the bases to an extraordinary tool for approaching cultural heritage and historical of the province of Jaén.
The historical knowledge acquired together with the extensive academic research carried out appoints Eslava Galán a rigorous and excellent disseminator of History, who cultivates the most diverse literary facets among which he stands out as a novelist (in some of them he uses the pseudonym Nicholas Wilcox), essayist, historian and columnist.
An extraordinarily prolific author, as evidenced by his fruitful work – almost a hundred magazine articles, around a dozen collaborations in collective works and almost two hundred books.
In his extensive work, Juan Eslava Galán makes reference to the history, places, buildings, landscapes, myths and legends of much of the province of Jaén and they can be discovered in this itinerary.
In Jaén you will follow the route of his Planeta Award(1987), “In Search of the Unicorn”, together with his work “The Templars and Solomon’s Table”: Puente Tablas, the Cathedral or the Magdalena neighborhood, with the Arab Baths and the popular legend of Jaén of the “Lizard of the Malena” taking the lead.
In his native Arjona, you will enjoy one of the author’s most interesting itineraries following his novel The Templar Gravestone, which he signs under the pseudonym of Nicholas Wilcox: the Plaza de Santa María, the Stone of Wishes, the Sanctuary of the Saints, the Baphomet Templar or the Byzantine Chapel of Baron of Velasco, will be some of the seductive places that Juan Eslava Galán will make you discover at a breathtaking step.
Antonio Muñoz Molina
We will finish the literary routes through the province of Jaén with another Planeta Award, Antonio Muñoz Molina from Ubeda. But the connection between the Prince of Asturias of Letters Award and Jaén is not only due to the fact that he is a native of Úbeda, but because he uses it as a literary resource to frame some of his works as a “model of the city” which he calls ” Magina ”and, although it cannot be identified with exactly, many of the spaces, situations, experiences and characters reminisce his native Úbeda.
Úbeda, a monumental town and together with Baeza declared World Heritage by UNESCO, has plenty of reasons to be visited (art, culture, history, landscape, gastronomy …). But without a doubt, discovering it through the different spaces that Antonio Muñoz Molina recreates in his novels is a different, peculiar and enriched way of getting to know it.
Although it evokes Magina with greater or lesser emphasis in other novels and articles (Beltenebros, The Owner of the Secret, Warrior Ardor , Sefarad or The Mysteries of Madrid), it is in three novels where Magina is present in an overwhelming way and is a fundamental literary space where their plot is recreated: his first novel Beatus Ille, The Polish Horseman and Full Moon.
It is in them where we can identify some of the places in Úbeda that Antonio Muñoz Molina has transferred to Magina: the Plaza del Reloj(The Clock Square), the statue of General Orduña, the Casa de las Torres ( The House of Towers)(where he narrates the legend of “The Immured Lady”) or the Sacra Capilla del Salvador, where you will have to locate the “juancaballos”.