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Arab baths cultural center

The Arab Baths Cultural Center. The Villardompardo Palace is located in the Palace of the First Count of Villardompardo and Viceroy of Peru, Sir Fernando de Torres y Portugal, a Renaissance building from the 16th century.

Built in the 11th century, the Arab Baths of Jaén are located in the basements of the Palace and their extension makes them probably the largest visitable baths in Spain.

At the end of the 16th century the Count of Villardompardo built his Palace on the Baths, pwhile art of them kept hidden between the foundations and basements, remaining in this way during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Juan Eslava Galán makes continuous mention of both spaces in The Templars and the Table of Solomon.

(…) In the center of the Magdalena neighborhood, surrounded by the initiation places of the old matriarchal sanctuary, in front of the palace of the Counts of Villardompardo, scions of the Torres family, in whose basements you can visit the Arab baths where the Moorish king died(…)

The Templars and the Table of Solomon. Chapter 27.

In the same building that makes up the Villardompardo palace there are also the International Naïf Art Museum “Manuel Moral”, the first and only one in Spain specialized in this art, and the Museum of Popular Arts and Customs of Jaén.

In the square in front of the palace, there is also an element that Juan Eslava Galán considers of great interest in his research on the Templars: the duck fountain.

(…) in the Plaza de Santa Luisa de Marillac (…). In the center, emerging from the still water, an octagonal pillar (so frequent in Templar and Calatrava construction) supports a hemisphere (the stone of the Mother Goddess) on which a goose stands with its webbed legs extended over the stone. (…). Let us not forget that the goose is one of the main symbols of the matriarchal cults of the sanctuary (…)

The Templars and the Table of Solomon. Chapter 26.

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Arrabalejo Tavern

Juan Eslava Galán pays homage in his work to the Arrabalejo tavern, one of the most rooted establishments in the city. The tavern has two floors. On the ground floor there is a restaurant and the upper floor houses an authentic photographic museum of old images.

(…) In which two days there was nothing remarkable to say, except that two crossbowmen drunkenly rioted the tavern that they call Arrabalejo, the place where the city’s scoundrel gathers, and one of them received a cut of twelve stitches. (…)

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

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Arch of San Lorenzo

The arch of San Lorenzo is the only remaining vestige of the old church that gives it its name. It dates from the 13th century. Listed as a National Monument since 1877.

Located at the confluence of Almendros Aguilar and Madre de Dios streets, A defensive bastion was used for its construction, which was used as a sacristy, whose apse is what remains today as the San Lorenzo arch.

The interior is divided into two floors. On the ground floor is the old church chapel, a true treasure of Jaen´s Mudejar art that evokes the Alhambra in Granada. On the second floor there is the old sacristy.

The arch of San Lorenzo also stands out for the enormous historical legacy it treasures, as this is where the the monarch Fernando IV, king of Castile, who died in Jaén, was veiled, as Eslava Galán himself testifies in The Templars and the Table of Solomon.

(…) The same tradition ensures that they veiled the corpse of the monarch, or even buried it, in the Arch of San Lorenzo de Jaén. (…)

The Templars and the Table of Solomon. Chapter 21.

Furthermore, here lies Juan de Olid, Secretary of Constable Iranzo. Historical and also literary landmark, because Juan de Olid is the hero that Juan Eslava Galán uses to go “In search of the unicorn”. The author also makes mention of this fact in The Templars and the Table of Solomon

(…) Juan de Olid and his wife were buried in the parish of San Lorenzo, belonging to the hospital founded by Don Luis (…)

The Templars and the Table of Solomon. Chapter 22.

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Palace of Condestable Iranzo

Once they arrive in Jaén, the entourage that has to look for and find the unicorn stays at the Palace of the Constable of Castilla, the very illustrious Mr. Miguel Lucas de Iranzo, Mr. Juan de Olid, our peculiar hero.

The old Palace, today the seat of the Municipal Board of Culture and Tourism of the city of Jaén, was built in the 15th century, and the Mudejar room is still preserved, the interior of which is covered with a magnificent Mudejar paneling, a unique example of this art throughout city ​​and arcades gallery in the late Gothic courtyard.


And thus we arrived at the palace and inn of the Constable and we retired to it and the music stopped to rest the instruments and also the ears, which were already somewhat thundered and full of the strong patching and accompaniment, and the maitre of the Constable took everyone to their rooms, with very discreet concert (…)

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

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San Francisco Square

One of the most emblematic squares of the capital is that of San Francisco, which owes its name to the old monastery built in the middle of the 14th century under the dedication of San Francisco de Asís.

The Convent was demolished at the end of the 19th century and on the land it occupied now the Plaza de San Francisco and the Palace of the Provincial Council, project of the architect Jorge Porrúa, stands. A sculpture of the Magdalena fringed with cryptic inscriptions currently presides over the courtyard of the Diputación, in the exact place where the Templar chapel of the old Convent of San Francisco stood. But as Juan Eslava Galán indicates in Los Templarios y la Mesa de Salomón, before the monastery it was the palace of Fernando III in Jaén.

(…) In the following days I gathered information about the palace of Fernando III in Jaén (…) In 1354 King Pedro I el Cruel handed it over to the Franciscans. Converted into a monastery, it lasted until 1867, when it was demolished to build the current building of the Provincial Council (…)

The Templars and the Table of Solomon. Chapter 17.

Also Eslava Galán makes mention of the square and the monastery in his novel In Search of the Unicorn:

(…) And at the end of the mass, which we all listened to with great devotion, we went outside, going out through the aforementioned door of Santa María, to the square of the monastery of San Francisco, where the avenue had been adorned, to hold a magnificent tournament (…)

In Search of the Unicorn. Chapter IV.

In this environment, there were also the old Butchers, which were demolished in 1930 and their space was added to the Plaza de San Francisco.

(…) If a suckling child did not cry here and the powerful braying of the rude father weren’t heard from behind the walls of the orchard of the friars, one could perceive the flight of one of the many flies that went around obstructing the peace and recreation of the people, who came from the nearby butcher shops, where many, lush and very choppy are raised. (…)

In Search of the Unicorn. Chapter IV.

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The tavern «El Gorrión»

Juan Eslava Galán makes a nod in his works to one of the oldest taverns in the city of Jaén, was founded in 1888. This tavern also shows a “mummified ham” in the establishment that has a legend about its origin, with two versions.

The first and most credible is that José María López Cruz, the first tavern keeper of the dynasty, while hanging several ham pieces in the tavern’s cellar, learned of the end of the First World War and to celebrate it he decided to “forgive” the ham save it from being consumed.

The second and more romantic is that a Russian princess who had been fleeing on her way to Gibraltar, came across the tavern, to rest for a while and eat something to regain strength. The Russian princess, sitting under one of the hams, noticed how a sticky drop of fat stained the clothes that covered her chest. The kind owner offered to clean it and from there, according to legend, a romance emerged. The innkeeper, greatly grateful to the greasy ham, pardoned him for life.

Choose the one you like best. (…)

And that was a fine wine that have in the Sparrow’s tavern and we all got together with the ladies there present and there was honest conversation and idleness where before there had been fierce battle and the creaking of ash trees and the resonance of dents in the irons . (…)

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.


In some variants of the legend of the Malena lizard it was mentioned that the lizard guarded Solomon’s Table – my friend Juan confided to me while we tasted a wine accompanied by old cheese and donuts in the Sparrow’s tavern. (…)

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Master Street

Calle Maestra is one of the main arteries of the historic center of Jaén, where numerous shops and the Jaén Tourist Office are located, where you can request more information. The fact of being pedestrian, greatly facilitates traffic and commercial activity in the area.

(…) we turned to the right and took the Rúa Maestra and the people had gone to the windows and climbed to the roofs and rooftops and everyone was waving with handkerchiefs and cheering, and it seemed that there was a party and raucous for a great event ( …)

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

In addition, already in the Middle Ages it was an important road because Constable Lucas de Iranzo (Palace of Constable Iranzo) had his houses there and for joining Plaza Santa María with Plaza de la Audiencia.

Currently it is part of the Mozarabic Way of Santiago in the city of Jaén.

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Bernabé Soriano street

This emblematic street, a reflection of the history of the city of Jaén, is popularly known as “La Carrera”(the Race) because this was where “horse races” were held in the times of Constable Iranzo, as Eslava Galán mentions in his Planeta Award “In search of the unicorn ”.

(…) And the Constable raised a handkerchief and signaled and the trumpets sounded and the horsemen let themselves come one against the other, drawing sparks from the stones in a very fierce gallop, their lances drawn, the stronger they were able to bring their horses (…).

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

Bernabé Soriano street is one of the most representative axes of the capital of Jaen and a sign of its identity. So it is not surprising that Juan Eslava Galán chose it for the entrance of the group that goes in search of the unicorn, with Juan de Olid at the head.

“(-) And so we went back to the city, with great joy and exhilaration, and the trumpets and drums and shawms went in front, making so much music that it was almost impossible to understand what was being spoken behind in the rear, and, in going up the Place de la Cerrera, we entered the city through the gates of Santa María, we went to the Iglesia Mayor, and after following the Calle de las Campanas, we turned to the right and took Rúa Maestra (…).

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

As can be seen in the aforementioned fragment, the procession crosses the wall through the monumental Puerta de Santa María -now disappeared-, which was located at the confluence of Calle Campanas with Plaza de San Francisco.

The same occurs with the now gone Puerta Barrera, located at the beginning of Avenida de Granada and that the author takes the opportunity to point out in the text.

(…) In very good order of the opposite party, through the gate of the Barrier, twenty other knights appeared and went up in the same way, except that they had blue trappings and with another flag and many trumpets and kettledrums, and my friend Gonzalo Mexía as captain (…).

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

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Tablas bridge

Puente Tablas is an inhabited settlement belonging to Jaén, is located a few kilometers from the urban center of the capital of Jaen. It is famous for having an Iberian oppidum (fortified city), which has a great patrimonial value and where you can learn how the Iberians of the upper Guadalquivir lived, contemplate one of the largest Iberian fortifications, with more than 300 meters of wall reaching more than 5 meters high, still preserved.

Juan Eslava Galán does not miss the opportunity to introduce Iberian culture every time he has the opportunity. For this reason, Juan de Olid, the main protagonist of his book In Search of the Unicorn, enters the city of Jaén through Puente Tablas.

(…) And as a herald would have left the day before advising our arrival, he went to look for us at the place that they call the Puente de Tabla, watercourse of Guadalbullón, with much and beautiful accompaniment of musics and riders. (…)

In search of the unicorn. Chapter IV.

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Monastery of Santa Teresa de Jesús

The Baroque-style Santa Teresa de Jesús Monastery was founded on a house-palace in 1615 (the construction of the temple began in 1673), after several unsuccessful attempts to found it in the capital of Granada.

It is a very austere Carmelite-style temple with a very simple composition, which actually gives it great beauty. In addition to the architecture itself, the monastery holds important treasures inside, altarpieces, sculptures or paintings, and, most importantly, an authentic bibliographic treasure: the manuscript of the Spiritual Canticle of Saint John of the Cross, also called the Codex of Jaén.

The Codex of Jaén is not a Saint John autograph manuscript, but it is a direct copy of the writing of the mystical poet, arriving at the monastery of the capital of Granada through Ana de Jesús who gives it to Mother Isabel de la Encarnación. She always carries it with her until it is sent to the new foundation in Jaén, where the manuscript has remained ever since. The manuscript, therefore, has been in the monastery since its foundation and has been kept since the beginning of the 20th century in a silver case in the form of a finely carved box and this, in turn, protected by an oak box.

The Codex of Jaén is a true literary relic, being the most important of all those found in the convents of this province, and one of the most valuable in the entire Carmelite world, as it has an exclusive stanza, Stanza XI.

Stanza XI
(…) If on that thy silvered surface

Thou wouldst of a sudden form the eyes desired Which I

bear outlined in my inmost parts!

Spiritual Canticle. Saint John of the Cross