Olive Tree Culture Museum
Jaén is the capital of olive oil. In our province, there is a sea of 65 million olive trees, more than half a million hectares dedicated to this work. Baeza is no exception, as some of the best virgin olive oils in the world come from our municipality.
The Olive Culture Museum, created in 1997, is the temple of the olive grove and olive oil in the province of Jaén. Located in a large 17th-century building, in which the winery stands out, a magnificent example of industrial architecture was built in 1848 and known as the Oil Cathedral. It is located in Hacienda la Laguna, in Puente del Obispo, 13 km from Baeza.
The museum, considered an Asset of Cultural Interest, is divided into several spaces: three buildings that house different models of oil mills, some of them very old, where the operation of various oil production systems can be observed and where the visitor can learn about the multiple uses of this wonderful product; a garden of varieties of olive trees from various countries of the Mediterranean Basin; and the Bodega, the highlight of this 17th-century building and a symbol of industrial architecture.
To understand everything about the exciting world of olive oil, it is best to book a guided tour of the Olive Tree Culture Museum, available in Spanish, English, French, and German. One of the most popular activities is the oil tasting, where the best experts teach the visitor to appreciate the quality of the product. For the youngest, the museum has an adapted program of school activities, designed by the center’s pedagogical team. Children and adults can learn how to make artisan soap based on olive oil, an old procedure but one that is still very much in force.
But you will also learn that the olive tree is not just oil for cooking. In addition to making an excellent soap, there are other cosmetic uses: moisturizer, make-up remover… It also has health effects due to its multiple antioxidant properties and its high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids. Several studies say that consuming oil helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and promotes circulation.
Baeza is an ideal place to practice olive oil tourism and the Olive Culture Museum is the best way to start. Among olive trees, the visitor can learn to distinguish the different types of olives and discover how the best oil in the world is extracted from them. Although olive oil tourism is an activity that Spanish tourists enjoy, above all, more and more foreigners are becoming interested in this world.
Through the guided tour you can learn how an oil press works, that wonderful tool that transforms the fruit of the olive tree into the oil. Almazara, by the way, comes from Arabic and means “place where it is squeezed”. Because in reality that is what is done with the olive, squeezing it with this kind of special mill until that wonderful oily liquid comes out.
The tour of the olive groves of Baeza will allow you to discover the varieties of olives, although in Jaén the majority variety is the picual, which leaves an extra virgin olive oil of extraordinary quality, aromatic, fruity, and leaves a curious mixture of bitter aftertaste in the mouth and spicy. If the olive harvest is early, the aroma will be like freshly cut grass; If the more mature fruit is collected, it will leave us with a slight aroma of banana and fig trees.
The Big Lagoon
Near the Olive Tree Culture Museum is the largest lagoon in the province of Jaén and one of the richest wetlands in the region. There are more than 200 hectares that break with the usual landscape of the area, dominated by olive groves. The Big Lagoon does not have a natural origin but was created by the action of man. Far from spoiling the environment, the lake provided a great diversity of plant and animal species, especially waterfowl.
Initially, the lagoon was created to store irrigation water, although today it has no agricultural function. Declared a Natural Area in 1989, it is on the Ramsar List of wetlands. In addition, it is declared as INP (Space of Protected Interest), LIC (Place of Community Interest), and Asset of Cultural Interest.