Ubeda and Baeza

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Ubeda and Baeza, two neighbouring cities at less than two hours by car from Granada, are considerated as two of the best examples of Renaissance town planning in Spain. These cities lived a great prosperity stage during the 16th century that made them compete in reach better and purer Renaissance buildings. In Ubeda, the aristocracy, exalted to the highest of the imperial spanish administration, behaved as real Renaissance patrons, and imitating italian families as the Medici from Firenze, wanted to be surrounded of beauty, filling Ubeda with suntuous palaces. Baeza, in other side, had got a powerful town council, that decided to shown this power with beatiful publics works, as the pósito (public granary), the alhóndiga (corn exchange), the meat market, the prison, etc. The Catholic Church also decided to beautify this more important buildings, as the Churh of St.Mary in Ubeda, or the Cathedral of Baeza, besides of several transformations suffered for other churches. The result was a so pure clasicism that has been compared to the one of the northern italian cities.

Near all the buildings in Ubeda, and also much others in Baeza, must be thanked to a man: Andrés de Vandelvira. Knower of the italian Renaissance, he met several patrons in Ubeda and Baeza, who permited him to shown his originals and varieds ideas: an evolution from the plateresque, passing through an clasicism near to the italian one, to a sober Renaissance.


The main monumental ensemble in Ubeda is made up of the Vazquez de Molina Square, considerated as the best example of Renaissance town Planning in Spain, beside of be one of the beautiest squares. Two churches and four palaces make stand out in this square, opened to give more splendour to every building that nobility and Churh were constructing there all along the 16th century. In this square is specially relevant one of the master pieces of the spanish Renaissance the Sacra Capilla del Salvador (Holy Chapel of the Saviour), but also the these master pieces: Palacio del Dean Ortega, Palacio de Vázquez

de Molina, the P¢sito, Carcel del Obispo, Iglesia de Sta.Mar¡a, and the main front of the Casa del Regidor, moved there from another place of Ubeda. Other interesting pieces are a mothern statue to the previously named Andres de Vandelvira, inspirer of arquitect of most of Ubeda's works; a Renaissance fountain, brought from Genoa for the Palace of Francisco de los Cobos, gardens, in the same way as other constructions that, not owning artistic insterest, are not unworthy of the set.

Sacra Capilla del Salvador (Holy Chapel of the Saviour) It was built for burial of Francisco de los Cobos, secretary of the Emperor Charles V, and its reckoned as the most ambitious private chapel of all the spanish Renaissance. Francisco de los Cobos called the best artist of the age for this building: Siloé, Vandelvira, Villalpando, Berrugete...Diego de Siloé, arquitect of several spanish cathedrals, was the author of the original project, but he left it, and for this cause, Andrés de Vandelvira continued with this building. The exterior presents many works of interest: the tower, finished with a Byzantine chapitel, the numerous sculptoric decoration, made by the French sculptor Esteban Jamete, who encourage Vandelvira be attracted for the human figure, and use it in all his buildings. The main front, similar to a front in the Cathedral of Granada, has a relief of the Transfiguration, and several sculptures that emphasize the funeral character of the church. It is also remarkable the presence, in the internal part of the arc of the main gate, of the Olympic gods as lords of the cosmos. This has led to say that this church is the most pagan and sensual in Spain. There is another two main fronts, designed by Vandelvira, similar to triumphal archs, one dedicated to the Charity, and the other to Santiago. In the interior, it is remarkable the fence, by Villalpando, the altarpiece, made by Berruguete, and the sacristy, a masterpiece by Vandelvira in which a grand iconographic program is developed presenting prophets, sybils, virtues and vices. The sacristy has also a very original gate, made in a corner of the wall that shows the great arquitectonical ability of Vandelvira. The Hospital de los Honrados Viejos del Salvador (Hospital of the Honorauble Old Men of The Saviour), with a beatiful court, and the Palacio de Francisco de los Cobos, from which only the fa‡ade is kept, are part of a whole whith the Chapel. All this remains from an ambitious project that included an university that was never built.

In the same square, we can find:

Iglesia de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares, (Church of Holy Mary of the Royal Castle) Ubeda's main churh, actually in restoration, that has got a Renaissance façade, with a couple of Renaissance main fronts, built following the model of Vandelvira. In the huge interior, is remarkable the gothic cloister, and many chapels built by the nobility for their burial, with beatiful fences, main fronts and altarpieces.

Palacio de las Cadenas, o de Vázquez de Molina, (Palace of the Chains) now Town Hall, an italianizant work by Vandelvira. It has a very classic fa‡ade, with three flats, and with very original elements, like the oval windows of the third flat, highly imitated in the region. It also has a court which is a clear example of Ubeda's Renaissance courts set, with white marble columns, maybe under Arabic influences. Palacio del Deán Ortega, now Parador National, another italianizant work, has got an Andalusian-like court with Ubeda's thinnest columns.

Palacio del Marqués de Mancera in manieristic style. It has got a tower that reminds us of the age of the old warriors lineages.

La Cárcel del Obispo, (Bishop's Jail) used for ecclesiastical punishments, now Ubeda's Court.

El Antiguo Pósito, the old public granary.

The Ubeda's monumental heritage does not finish here yet. The 16th century, really fruitful in Ubeda, and the next centuries produced a lot of examples of the Renaissance arquitecture, besides of another styles, like Gothic, Romanic or baroque style. All of this made Ubeda an open air museum. Another remarkables monuments in Ubeda are:

Religious arquitecture:

Iglesia de San Pablo (Church of St.Paul) mainly Gothic, National Monument, with three main fronts, the more interesting are the main, Gothic, and other, called The Gate of the Woodmakers, Romanic. It has also at his exterior a 16th centuried tower, and a Renaissance fountain. In the interior, several interesting chapels, in wich is easy to see the evolution from primitiv Gothic to the purest Renaissance.

Iglesia de San Nicolás (Church of St.Nicholas) Gothic, National Monument also, with two main fronts: the main, gothic, and the oriental gate, considered the best main front made by Vandelvira. The interior is the Ubeda's most representative example of Gothic churh. There is several interesting chapels, as the baptismal chapel, by Vandelvira, and the Capilla del Deán, with a very interesting fence.

Convento de Santa Clara (Convent of St.Clara) National Monument, the first Franciscan nunnery of in Andalusia, has examples of Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance, and Baroque.

Hospital de Santiago, (St.James' Hospital) National Monument, Vandelvira's maturest work, where he left out almost every sculptoric decoration. It has two towers, whose sole function is ornamental, three Renaissance courts, a monumental stairway with frescos by the Italian painter Julio de Aquilis, who came to Spain to paint the Mirador de la Reina in the Alhambra, and the chapel, sacristy and antesacristy, containing frescos by the previously quoted painter. Nowadays it works as a cultural center, where an International Musical Festival is celebrated, apart from many exhibitions, as the Antiquarian Biennial Show.

Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad (Churh of the Holy Trinity), practically Ubeda's sole Baroque church. It has two interesting main fronts and two cloisters.

Iglesia de San Isidoro (Church of Saint Isidoro) It has a monumental crossbearer by Vandelvira's most important disciple, Alonso Barba, and two Gothic main fronts.

Iglesia de San Lorenzo (Church of St. Laurence) with an interesting mudejar coffered ceiling, over Ubeda's walls.

Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Church of St.Domingo) with two main fronts: a Renaissance one, and the other plateresque, placed in one of the most intimate squares in Ubeda.

Oratorio de S.Juan de la Cruz, (Chapel of St.John of the Cross) chapel located in the place where the Spanish saint S.John of the Cross died, next to a convent of Carmelites, with a museum dedicated to the life of the saint.

Iglesia de San Pedro (Church of St.Peter) with an Romanic apse, and a Renaissance main front by Alonso Barba.

Another religious buildings are: Church of S.Millán, placed in the potters' quarter, the Carmelitan Nunnery, the old convent of La Victoria, besides other remains of the 14 convents placed in Ubeda in past centuries.

Civil Arquitecture

It is really large, and with a high quality. We can remark the next buildings:

Casa de las Torres(House of the towers) with a monumental Plateresque façade, the most interesting in all Ubeda's civil arquitecture. It has also a beatiful Renaissance court.

Palacio Vela de los Cobos made by Andrés de Vandelvira.

Palacio del Conde de Guadiana with a tower, reckoned by the voyagers as one of the most beatiful in Spain. It is remarkable in this tower an original cornered balcony, with a white marble column, motiv which has been repeated at another palaces in Ubeda.

Palacio del Marqués de la Rambla, also with a main front of Vandelvira, and an interesting Renaissance court. Now a hotel, with the rooms keeping all the marquisis' furniture.

Ayuntamiento Viejo, Old Town Hall, with a double Italian- styled loggia.

Museo Arqueológico- casa mudéjar Arqueological museum, in a mudejar house of the 15th century.

Another palaces and civil buildings of interest are: la Casa de los Salvajes (Savages' House), Palacio de los Porceles, Palacio de los Bussianos, Palacio de los Morales, Palacio de los Medinilla, Palacio de los Torrente, Casa de los Manueles, Palacio del Marqués de Contadero, Palacio de los Orozco, Palacio del Obispo Canastero, Casa de los Padilla, Casa de los Carvajales, Casa de la Tercia, etc.

Military Arquitecture

Ubeda's walls were very important, due to the strategic situation in the frontier with the Arab Kingdom of Granada. In the chronicles of this ages, it was said that Ubeda was the city "best and stronger in al Andalusia". Nows Ubeda still keep many remains of the walls, built and rebuilt from the 9th century to the 14th century, two gates of the 14th century: Puerta del Losal,(Losal's Gate) with a horseshoe arc, and the Puerta de Granada (Granada's Gate). It remains also many towers, as the Torre del Reloj (Clock's Tower) finished in a Renaissance pavilion, and the octogonal Torre de las Arcas (Safe's Tower), where the money of the Town Hall taxes was saved.

How to get there

Best way is to take a bus from Granada or Malaga. There is no train link, but in case you have no other way out, you can get off the train at the Linares-Baeza station (27 kms. aways). By car, it's 45 minutes from Jaen, the province capital, and 1:45 from Granada.


Baeza 8 km, Historic-Artistic Ensemble, a beatiful city, full of palaces and churh of great artistic interest. It was named "Exemplar Renaissance city" by the Europe Council.

Sabiote 5 km., Historic- Artistic Ensemble, with the Castle, made by Vandelvira.

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park.

You can also visit other fine places through the [City.Net]Virtual Tourist

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[JJ J. J. Merelo * jmerelo@kal-el.ugr.es[E-MAIL]
Equipo GeNeura -- GeNeura Team
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Universidad de Granada Granada (España)
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