November 4, 2018
Lesser known cities in Andalucia (2) – Ubeda
November 13, 2018
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The façade of the Jabalquinto Palace in Baeza.

Baeza and Ubeda

Baeza and Ubeda are in the province of Jaen. These cities, about 90 miles miles to the east of Cordoba and 80miles north of Granada, but only a few miles apart, are well worth a day’s visit. Built on the high land of the Loma de Ubeda, the views of the surrounding countryside, full of olive trees, with the R. Guadalquivir to the south and the Guadalimar to the north, are spectacular. Looking east from Ubeda you can see the Sierra de Cazorla at the foot of which lies the town of Cazorla, where we spent a great 3 days in a beautiful, quiet campsite (mid-September).


Baeza (pop’n. – 17,000) was the first town in Andalucia to be captured from the Moors by the Christian forces of Fernando III (1226). Originally a Roman settlement, it became the seat of a bishopric under the Visigoths, reaching its greatest prosperity under Islamic rule, growing to a population of 50,000 in the 12th century. The old centre is now evocative of the 15th and 16th centuries. Stand in the Plaza Santa Maria and you will see the cathedral, constructed over a former mosque and largely re-built in the 16th century, the Casas Consistoriales Atlas (the old town halls), the Fuente de Santa Maria (1564) and other 16th century buildings. Clearly visible on the old town halls are coats of arms belonging to Juana (the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs) and Philip - as well as their son Charles. Nearby is the Jabalquinto Palace with its Isabelline stlye façade. Opposite that is the oldest church in the town, the Church of Santa Cruz, in Romanesque style, with a Visigoth arch. Within a few metres is the old university building (again 16th C.) which now houses a secondary school.

Lower down, in the Plaza del Populo, is the Fuente de los Liones taken from old Roman ruins. Also in the Plaza is the Puerto de Jaen and the Arco de Villalar (emblazoned with Charles’ coat of Arms) built in 1526 to honour Emperor Charles V visit. It celebrates the battle of Villalar in 1521 when his forces finally defeated the army of rebelling cities. The information provided in the guide states that he was on his way to his marriage to Isabella of Portugal in Seville. It seems much more likely that he was travelling north from Granada having spent several months there after his marriage, since he travelled to Seville from Madrid (Baeza would have been a major detour). A short walk across the Paseo de la Constitucion and the Plaza de Espana will bring you to the Calle de San Pablo where there are numerous old palaces. We enjoyed a very reasonably priced lunch in the shade of the courtyard of the Palacio Sanchez Valenzuela.

Ubeda – to follow in my next blog

Plenty more information can be obtained from

Richard Heath
Richard Heath
Richard Heath graduated in history from the University of Cambridge and was a history teacher for 35 years. He now enjoys travelling with his wife in their VW camper van, exploring historical sites and appreciating all that Europe has to offer.

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