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Prehistoric rock art, countless olive groves and Spain’s largest Arab Baths

The inland region of Jaén might not pop up in your guidebook’s must-see list, but that’s all the more reason to visit it. There is a combination of things to do and see in this area, which can keep you amused for days. The picturesque mountain range Sierra de Cazorla is a unique setting to enjoying a hike or to simply sit back and take in the stunning views. Two of the most famous UNESCO world heritage villages in the Jaén region are called Ubeda and Baeza. They are recognised internationally for their unique university halls, palaces, cathedrals and chapels. An attraction on your way back from these pueblos, are the 42 prehistoric caves including ‘Cueva de la Graja’ with its Neolithic iconic paintings up to 10000 years old. One cannot help but notice the countless fields of structured Mediterranean gems; the olive groves. It is interesting to note that this is the home of the world’s largest olive oil factory. Some of these businesses are open to the public for a visit and a tasting. The locals refer to it as ‘liquid gold’ and they are proud of this internationally famous product. When you come across a photograph of the imposing Renaissance cathedral in the middle of Jaén town, one may think that this is a snapshot of a large European city such as Milan or Vienna. But Jaén has slipped off the tourist radar much to our advantage. The Arab Baths, dating back to the 11th century, were rediscovered a century ago under the Palacio de Villardompardo. The attraction is now the largest bathhouse open to the public. One can see star-shaped skylights and perfectly shaped arches in these brick chambers. Roman influences are still present amidst these Arab baths, creating a unique crossing between two major eras. Pick up a tapas or two near the cathedral before you leave Jaén as they are highly recommended. The local system is that you are given a mini plate of food when you order a drink so do not be alarmed if the waiter comes laden with small dishes.