This town in the province of Jaen stands on a little promontory, dominating a landscape of olive trees, in the centre of the county of La Loma. Baeza, which has been declared a World Heritage site like the neighbouring village of Ubeda, has an incredible legacy from the Renaissance, where carved stone contrasts with whitewashed houses.
Set on the Andalusian Renaissance Route and the Nazarite Route, it is a wonderful place for touring the whole region and tasting its pure olive oil, focus of the Mediterranean diet. The 16th and 17th century was the period when the city enjoyed its greatest splendour, shown in its great Renaissance buildings. Just strolling through the town is a way to enjoy it's atmosphere, alternatively you can take the tourist train.
Baeza ground of battles
Baeza under the Roman name of Vivatia or the Hispano-Muslim name of Bayyasa was very important during the Middle Ages because of it's strategical position. Situated between Castile and Andalusia, that is to say, between the Christian kingdoms and the Muslim powerbase, it was the site of battles and frontier skirmishes. It was Fernando III el Santo (the Saint) who reconquered it in 1227 and, from that time it became the spearhead for launching attacks against the surrounding Taifa Kingdoms like Denia, Lorca or Murcia, which is why it was given the name āNest of Royal Sparrowhawksā.
In the Cathedral you will find one of the city's most precious jewels. Built on the site of a mosque, the present Renaissance building of Santa MarĆa preserves Gothic elements like the Puerta de la Luna (13th C.), and Mudejar ones, like the pointed horseshoe arches in the chapels. You can see this combination of styles in its robust cloister. Adjoining the Cathedral are the High Chapter Houses and, opposite them, the fountain of Santa MarĆa, whose construction was ordered during the reign of Philip II.
Another monumental site is the one formed by the Jabalquinto Palace and the Seminary of San Felipe Neri. The palace has profuse Isabelline decoration on its faĆ§ade, while in the cloister you can admire the transition from Renaissance to Baroque. It is worth visiting the Function Room, where the Romanesque capitals of the old church of San Juan are preserved.
A visit not to be missed is to the Antonio Machado Site of the International University of AndalusĆa, housed in the former university. This 16th century building was also the Education Institute where the distinguished poet, Antonio Machado, gave French classes for many years.
Before stopping at the PĆ³sito and the AlhĆ³ndiga - the grain store and former corn exchange building (16th C.), you should visit the church of Santa Cruz, one of the exceptional examples of Romanesque architecture preserved in AndalusĆa.
Among many aristocratic houses and small palaces is the Plaza del PĆ³pulo, a site made up of the Casa del PĆ³pulo (Civil Courts and Public Court Office), the Los Leones fountain, the old Butcher's, the JaĆ©n Gate and the Villalar Arch. It is one of Baeza's most charming corners where, beside noble buildings, parts of the old walls and their gate remain.
In the Plaza de CĆ”ndido Elorza is another group of historic monuments, both religious and civil. The Palaces of Elorza, CerĆ³n and the Counts of GarcĆes and the houses of the Cabrera and AcuĆ±a families tell us of the many noble and aristocratic families in Baeza in the 17th century. To this is added the elegant shape of the church of San Pablo, situated nearby.