Ubeda and Baeza are towns in the province of Jaen, Spain.
Although they are off the main tourist track both towns are worth visiting. Especially as they are both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
This summer I took a short break to find out more about this region of Andalusia.
Ubeda UNESCO World Heritage
The Plaza Vázquez de Molina is a large square in the historic centre of Ubeda. This vast space is full of emblematic buildings. This area alone takes a while to cover due to the rich details and grandeur of the architecture. This is the best example of Renaissance architecture in Spain. (2nd in the world to Florence, Italy for Renaissance architecture)
Perhaps you are wondering why this Jaen town has such a wealth of grand buildings. That certainly crossed my mind when I began the guided walking tour of the square.
Sacra Capilla del Salvador
This chapel is almost as grand as the Royal Chapel of the Catholic Kings in Granada. At first you might think its a Cathedral or large church. Actually its a chapel of rest. Built by Diego de Siloe, an architect who also built Granada Cathedral, Almeria Cathedral and San Jerónimo Monastery.
Francisco De Los Cobos y Molina was the decision maker behind this building. A notable figure in Jaen, at one point in his career he worked as the secretary to Emperor Charles V. Without his influence Ubeda wouldn´t have had as many monuments as it does.
There are 47 monuments to see in the historic quarter. (In this post I will cover just the main square)
The Chapel of Salvador has an impressive façade visible from any place in the square. When you step inside it is clear that this is no ordinary building. The large metal gate at the altar would separate the private chapel from the locals attending mass inside. This is very similar to the design of the Royal Chapel in Granada.
The whole interior is highly decorative and it is clear that Francisco De Los Cobos was making a statement about his status with such ostentatious designs in this chapel. His ideas was to be remembered and recognised long after his death. He is buried together with his wife on this site.
Parador de Ubeda
The Parador de Ubeda is located next to the Sacra Capilla del Salvador. A Parador is a state run hotel, usually in an historic setting. This large building that occupies one side of the square is also called the Palacio del Deán Ortega.
(I recently wrote about the Parador in Granada > here)
Originally built as a private residence for Fernando Ortega Salido, who worked alongside Francisco de los Cobos. Dean Ortega was the Chaplain of the Salvador chapel. Inside the parador is a typical Andalusian courtyard. This serves as a tranquil setting for the guests who stay at the Parador.
Iglesia de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares
The church of Santa Maria is on the opposite side of the square. This is as grand as any Spanish Cathedral. Built on the site of the Ubeda´s main mosque. This 13th century buildings has Gothic, Baroque, Mudejar and Renaissance elements.
Although it has suffered over the years, the grand earthquake of Lisbon in the 18th century damaged the foundation. Severely damaged during the Spanish Civil War, it has been carefully restored in 1986.
Today it stands proudly alongside the other grand buildings in Plaza Vazquez de Molina. Because of its grandeur its a popular spot for local weddings and christenings.
Jaen – A Sea of Olives
At one end of the square, there is a balcony that opens out onto the land below. Mirador de San Lorenzo. Enjoy the views across rolling countryside with thousands of olive trees as far as the eye can see. Look across to the Sierra Magina and the Guadalquivir valley to admire the sea of Olives. 66 million olive trees are recorded in the province of Jaen officially. (although there could be more)
It certainly is an impressive sight.
Plaza Vazquez de Molina
Other notable buildings in the square are the Palacio de las Cadenas (House of Chains) police station and the courthouse. Both are beside the Iglesia de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares.
This is Úbeda´s town hall yet it was originally built in 16th century as a private residence. It is know as the house of chains due to the design on the front of the building.
Úbeda is well worth visiting to step of that well beaten tourist track and take in the impressive architecture. I stayed at Zenit Postigo when I visited. A good choice for Summer as it had a great little pool and good breakfast. Don´t miss nearby Baeza when you are in the region. It´s equally quaint and worthwhile visiting.
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