There are said to be over 150 million olive trees in the province of Jaén. They dominate the landscape as infinite rows of green against the orange-red earth, occasionally interspersed with stark white farm buildings. It’s beautiful on a grand, sweeping scale, though concealing a bitter and entrenched economic reality. The majority of the olive groves are owned by a mere handful of families, and for most residents this is a very poor area.

Sights may not be as plentiful here as in other parts of Andalucía, but there are a few gems worth going out of your way to take in. Fairly dull in itself, the provincial capital of Jaén merits a visit for its fine cathedral and Moorish baths, while farther to the northwest Baeza and Úbeda are two remarkable Renaissance towns filled with architectural gems. Extending northeast from the town of Cazorla, Parque Natural de Cazorla, Andalucía’s biggest natural park, is a vast expanse of dense woodlands, lakes and spectacular crags.

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