Thursday, November 7, 2013

Photo Post: The Sierra de Segura Mountains in Eastern Andalucía

Tranco Reservoir
There’s a lot to love about the province of Jaén, a cozy corner of eastern Andalucía in southern Spain. You’ve got the lovely villages of Úbeda and Baeza, graced with Renaissance architecture, as well as countless other sleepy towns scattered amongs the endless olive groves. There’s the capital city of Jaén, with its charming, Moorish-style old town and free tapas scene. Although there’s no doubt that people here talk with a thick Andalusian accent, it’s not nearly as difficult to understand as that of Cádiz, for example, on the coast. And who could forget that the best olive oil in the world is made in almazaras (factories) in every village’s industrial park?

Sierra de Segura
But while I’ve expressed my love for the region in many posts on this blog, I haven’t written yet about the sierra, that unmoving wall of mountains that serves as the eastern limit of the province and the region. Countless sunsets seen from Úbeda’s eastern lookout point made me wonder what these hills were like up close and personal, so I made it my goal—as a Mountain Person, rather than a beach bum—to explore the Segura mountain range at least once during my time in the south.

Olive tree, with Segura de la Sierra in the background
I finally got that chance in February when a handful of teachers and I went on a little excursion after work for lunch and touring in two pueblos (villages) in the Sierra de Segura: Hornos de Segura (“Ovens of Segura”) and Segura de la Sierra (“Segura of the Hills”).

Hornos de Segura
In Hornos, we had a long, delicious dinner of various raciones—appetizer platters of cheeses, meats, sandwiches, and other little bites that added up to a full meal. After a quick pick-me-up of coffee, we wandered around the old town, stopping at the lookout point over the Tranco Reservoir to enjoy the beautiful lakeside scenery before seeing the local castle and parish church.

Castle of Segura de la Sierra
To get to Segura de la Sierra, we drove about 15 minutes through olive grove-covered fields up the steep hill that the tiny village is situated on. My bilingual coordinator, Pedro, told me that he used to work at a school here that was built over the old medieval walls. So cool! The sun was setting fast, though, so we all parked and hurried up the hill to the castle, from which we got to take in the surroundings at twilight.

What was your favorite photo from this post? Are you a Mountain Person or do you prefer the beach? Either way, these mountains are only a few hours from the Mediterranean coast!

For more pictures, check out my set on Flickr here.
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