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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.