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View of the main façade of the Palace of El Deán Ortega, today a Parador hotel, beside the chapel of El Salvador © Ayuntamiento de Úbeda

Location

Autonomous region:
Andalusia

Province/Island:
Jaén

Jaén

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    World Heritage, a certification granted by UNESCO.


Known as the capital of the Andalusian Renaissance, this city in the province of Jaén stands on a hill near the valley of the Alto Guadalquivir, in the county of La Loma. Its old town, declared a Historic-Artistic site, houses a splendid legacy of monuments made up of churches, palaces and aristocratic houses. Its historic Renaissance site has been awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO.

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Arab Ubbadat was founded in the 9th century, the period when its walls were built. Its intensive trading activity and craftsmanship made the city one of the most important in Al-Andalus. After various frustrated attempts at Christian conquest, it was finally taken in 1234 by King Fernando III el Santo (the Saint). The city became important from the 15th and 16th centuries, a time when aristocratic families decided to establish themselves in the cityThis has been reflected in the large number of emblazoned houses and palaces preserved from that period, making Úbeda the Andalusian Renaissance city par excellence.The cityThe Plaza Vázquez de Molina or de Santa María stand out in the middle of Úbeda's whitewashed houses, forming a superb Renaissance site. Presiding over this area is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture, the Sacred Chapel of El Salvador (16th C). The church was planned by Diego de Siloé and built by Andrés de Vandelvira under the orders of Francisco de los Cobos, secretary and confidant to Emperor Carlos I. On it, the magnificent Plateresque-style doorways are outstanding. Meanwhile, inside is preserved a main reredos by Alonso de Berruguete and grilles by Maestro Bartolomé. Next to it is the Palace of Constable Dávalos, nowadays converted into a Parador de Turismo. This is a 16th-century building altered a century later, where the Dean of the Sacred Chapel of El Salvador lived. Behind its distinguished façade is hidden a beautiful courtyard with a double gallery of superimposed arches.The adjoining Palace of Las Cadenas, site of the City Hall, was designed by Andrés de Vandelvira. Opposite its broad exchange building, on one of the sides of the square, is the Church of Santa María de los Reales Alcázares, built on the site of an old Arab mosque. In it, you can appreciate a harmonious superimposition of artistic styles, as it was originally built in the 13th century in Gothic style and remodelled centuries later. It has five naves, various chapels and a cloister from the 16th C.The Palace of the Marquis of Mancera, which nowadays houses the Convent of Servants of Mary, completes this extremely beautiful environment. The building, which formerly belonged to a viceroy of Peru, shows great Renaissance purity in its lines. In the popular Plaza del Mercado is the Church of San Pablo, in Gothic style with transitional reminders of Romanesque in some elements, like the main front. Inside it houses the chapel of the Vago family, a splendid Renaissance style work created by Vandelvira. Opposite this church you can see another palace built in the Renaissance period, the Old City Hall, and, very nearby, the Oratory of San Juan de la Cruz, the mystic from Ávila who died in this area.At the entrance to the city stands the Hospital of Santiago, considered “the Andalusian Escorial” and one of the culminating works of the Master Vandelvira. Behind the sober façade of this monumental building - today an active cultural centre - is hidden a bright Classicist courtyard and a beautiful chapel. La Redonda de Miradores, behind the Plaza de Santa María, enables you to see a beautiful view of the Sierra Mágina and the Guadalquivir basin.Surroundings Úbeda lies within the county of La Loma, in the geographical centre of Jaén. Neighbouring Baeza, declared a Historic-Artistic Site, also belongs to the county. Together with Úbeda, this city has the most important Renaissance heritage in the province. In it, the Cathedral, the Antonio Machado University site and many aristocratic houses and palaces are the outstanding features.The Renaissance Route goes to other towns and cities like Jaén, Mancha Real, Sabiote and Torreperogil.The Caliphate and Nazarite Routes pass through Jaén. Alcaudete, Martos, Porcuna and Alcalá la Real on one hand and Mengíbar, Jódar and Jimena on the other, are important landmarks on these routes. In these places you will be surprised by fine examples of the legacy of Andalus.This province has the privilege of having the largest extent of protected areas in Andalusia as it contains the natural parks of Despeñaperros, Sierra de Andújar, Sierra Mágina and Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. These provide examples of the Mediterranean mountain ecosystem. The Cazorla park is also a Biosphere Reserve, National Hunting Reserve and Special Bird Protection Area. Its landscape and natural wealth rival its legacy from the past of hunting, culture and history.Apart from Úbeda, the city of Jaén, and Cazorla both have paradors de turismo. A 13th-century Arab fortress, a 16th-century Renaissance palace and a typical Andalusian farmhouse offer rooms for relaxing on the journey. Úbeda's cuisine has its main ally in olive oil with the Sierra Mágina Denomination of Origin. This appears in any local recipe, like "andrajos" (stew of potatoes with rabbit or hare meat or cod), "pipirrana" (salad made with vegetables) and the tasty "morcilla en caldera" (loose black pudding filling, fried). Pastries include ochíos (little flour and aniseed cakes) and hornazos (cakes with a hard-boiled egg).

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