Within a few kilometers from Jaén, Úbeda and Baeza are, in my opinion, the cities with the greatest concentration of artistic monuments per square meter. You may wonder if you will have enough activities to do here in one day. In that case, you are in the right hands. In this post, I tell you about the places of interest in Úbeda, and give you the information you need to enjoy a visit full of history and culture.
Keep in mind that most of its splendid historic-artistic heritage is Renaissance, and it is remarkably well-preserved. It is for this reason that it has not gone unnoticed and, in 2003, UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site.
How to get to Úbeda by public transport
From Jaén, the city is well-connected by bus. The company ALSA offers different daily departures, and the trip only takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. Once you reach your destination, you can walk to the center.
In Úbeda, the bus station is in C/ San José and from there it takes about 15 minutes.
There are free tours available here if you wish to learn the history of the city, as well as go on a guided tour without missing out on any details.
You may be interested in a guided tour if you decide to visit Úbeda and Baeza on the same day, even though I visited one city per day.
Where to eat in Úbeda
Despite being October, the weather was wonderful when I visited Úbeda, so I enjoyed eating on a terrace. I recommend the restaurant La Tintorera in Calle Real, number 27. They offer creative tapas and Mediterranean food, exquisite and at an affordable price.
During breakfast or snack time, it is an excellent opportunity to taste the ochíos, typical local bread rolls made with extra olive oil and aniseed. If you feel like trying them, the cafeteria Alejo & Doña Rosita is a good option. It’s located at 7 Sagasta Street.
Before diving into the places of interest in Úbeda, in order to put the city in context, let’s first take a look at some of the city’s history facts:
Úbeda’s brief history
Like other places in Spain, different cultures settled in Úbeda: Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Goths among others, but it was with the Arabs, with whom the city gained notoriety, especially with Abderraman II, who re-founded it with the name of Ubbada. Under the Muslim empire, in the eleventh century, defensive walls were built, and it became one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus, for its trade and craftsmanship.
In the Middle Ages, the first king to recover the city for Castile was Alfonso VI, but not definitively, but after a series of multiple battles. It is in the year 1233 when Úbeda ends up entirely conquered by Fernando III of Castile. And it stays as a frontier city between the kingdoms of Castile and Granada.
During your journey in Úbeda you will discover artistic jewels of the nobles of the time: Juan Vázquez de Molina, nephew of Francisco de los Cobos and secretary of state of Philip II of Spain. You will also get to know the impressive architectural works of Andrés de Vandelvira, famous for being the architect of the cathedral of Jaén.
Úbeda’s artistic treasures
o, what are the traces of the past we can find today?
By the Muslims, the walled enclosure of the city with its Alcazar (XIX to XIII centuries) stands out. Besides several buildings and monuments of the Renaissance (XVI century).
In the same way, the most representative buildings of the Renaissance period are those located in the Vázquez de Molina square, among which are the Santa Capilla del Salvador and the palace of Deán Ortega, one of the oldest in Spain, and since 1930 the Parador de Turismo.
What to see in Úbeda, places of interest
Here I am going to suggest a tour grouped by 3 different walks around the city to see the most emblematic buildings and attractions.
In the Plaza Vázquez de Molina are the most representative Renaissance style buildings of the city such as Palacio de las Cadenas, Santa María de los Reales Alcázares, Palacio del Deán Ortega, Sacra Capilla del Salvador and Cárcel del Obispo.
In the surroundings of the Plaza del 1º de Mayo: San Pablo Church, San Juan de la Cruz Monument, Old Town Hall, Mudéjar House and Vela de los Cobos Palace.
And to finish the itinerary: Casa de las Torres, the Calle Real and the Santiago Hospital.
Juan Vázquez de Molina Palace
Also known as Palacio de las Cadenas, it has been on the City Hall premises since 1850. Besides being part of the monumental complex declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, it also holds the title of Asset of Cultural Interest.
Remember that earlier I mentioned Juan Vázquez De Molina (secretary of state of Philip II of Spain), well, he commissioned the architectural project to Vandelvira in order to use it as a private residence.
The magnificent Renaissance frontal facade has its lonja delimited by a series of chains and, in theory, that would be the reason why the palace is known by this second name.
The architect took the liberty of this palace to design it in the image of a Roman house, creating its structure around a large courtyard with a fountain in the center.
When Juan Vázquez died with no progeny, the palace passed into the hands of a community of Dominican nuns, called Madre de Dios de “Las Cadenas” (Mother of God of “Las Cadenas”), who transformed it into a convent. Later, in 1873, it became the Municipal Consistory.
Santa María de los Reales Alcázares Basilica
Right in front of the Palacio de las Cadenas is this Basilica with a mixture of styles: Gothic, Mudejar, Renaissance, Baroque and neo-Gothic. When Ferdinand III the Saint conquered the city in 1233, he built it on top of the old mosque, which explains its name, since it sits on the remains of the royal palaces.
Its construction covered all these periods from the 13th to the 19th century.
Beyond that, the interior is magnificent for its unique distribution. The cloister of Gothic style, XV century, extends throughout the courtyard of the old mosque. There are 16 chapels under the vaults, where some of the city’s nobles and bishops are buried.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10:45 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm. Sunday: from 10 am to 1 pm.
- Entrance fee: 4 euros. Monday from 4 to 6:30 pm: Free
Deán Ortega Palace
As I mentioned before, Andrés de Vandelvira also built The Dean Ortega Palace. Since 1930, it has been the Parador Nacional de Turismo and on the whole a great option to overnight in such a history-filled place.
A lintel doorway on its facade and slender Renaissance columns surround its elegant courtyard.
Sacra Capilla Del Salvador
By the way, next to the Parador Nacional de Turismo, is the Sacra Capilla del Salvador. It is a funerary temple that Francisco de los Cobos ordered to build in 1536, in a building annexed to his palace in order to be the family pantheon.
It is one of the most emblematic monuments of Úbeda. Regarding its exterior, it comprises a single tower topped in the shape of an onion. On the main facade are represented several coats of arms of the Cobos family and a series of classical gods. As for its interior, the main altar with a wooden altarpiece depicting the Transfiguration and the sacristy, in a corner, a curious door of Andrés de Vandelvira, symbolizing the Gate of Eden.
At the present time, the building houses the Courts of Úbeda, but in the XVIII century it was where the religious were imprisoned to fulfill the canonical sentences imposed by the Bishop Sancho Iñiguez. Only the facade with the Episcopal coat of arms remains from the original.
It is interesting to note that when the building was rehabilitated to be used as courts, a Bronze Age necropolis (1400-1300 B.C.) was discovered under it.
The archaeological remains are now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Úbeda.
Santa Lucía Square. Viewpoint
From this spot, you can take a route of viewpoints with panoramic views of the olive groves of Úbeda, and around the walls.
St. Paul Church
In the Plaza del 1º de Mayo, is the Church of San Pablo, built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Its architecture is a mixture of late Gothic and Renaissance styles. As its name implies, it’s dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle. A tower stands out at the head of the church.
Also, in the same square, you will find the Memorial to San Juan de la Cruz, made of marble and limestone by the Malaga sculptor Francisco Palma Burgos.
The Synagogue of the Water
On a personal note, the Water Synagogue was one of the most impressive places of interest in Úbeda. Located in the historic center, it was discovered in 2007 by chance, when the buildings were being reformed. Studies date this synagogue before the 14th century.
The tour is guided, and it is essential to book an appointment. I loved it because it tells the customs of the Jews who lived in Úbeda in a very entertaining way.
The visit comprises the access to 6 rooms which allow you to know how they lived and what were their ceremonies and special rites: the entrance courtyard, the main hall, the women’s gallery, the cellar and the one that caught my attention: the Mikveh purification baths. All the spaces are decorated with furniture and objects from the Sephardic period.
- Address: C/ Roque Rojas, 2 (Esquina C/ Las Parras). Tel: 953-75 81 50
- Guided tour schedules: From 18 June to 16 September : Mon – Sun from 10:30 to 1:30 pm and from 5:45 to 8 pm.
From 17 September to 17 June: Mon – Sun from 10:30 to 1:30 pm and from 5 to 7:15 pm.
- Entrance fee: 5 euros
Archeological Museum (Mudejar House)
If you are interested in learning about the architecture of a Mudejar house, a visit to the Archaeological Museum will give you a very accurate idea. The house was built between the 14th and 15th centuries. Its rooms are divided between two levels and are arranged around a central courtyard.
After serving as a neighbors’ house until the 1960s, it became a museum in 1973.
- Address: C/ Cervantes, 6
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm. Sunday: from 9 am to 3pm
- Entrance fee: Free
Vela de los Cobos Palace
Another place of interest in Úbeda is the Vela de los Cobos Palace, built in the mid-sixteenth century by Andrés de Vandelvira. This is an imposing building which highlights its stone facade made up of three floors and a corner balcony characteristic of the Andalusian Renaissance.
As for its interior, its collection of works of art, the excellent library and the impressive French lounge stand out, besides its decoration, which transports you back in time.
There is the option of taking a guided tour, usually led by the owner, Natalio Rivas Sabater.
- Address: C/ Juan Montilla, 2
- Guided tours schedules: Tuesday to Saturday 1pm and 7 pm. 13:00. Sunday: 7 pm
- Entrance fee: 4 euros
It was ordered to be built in the sixteenth century by Don Diego de los Cobos, Bishop of Jaén, in order to dedicate it to a hospital for the sick poor, and it also combined the functions of church, pantheon and palace. Its architect was Andrés de Vandelvira and this building is one of his best work.
In fact, because of its immense and sober facade, it is considered as the Andalusian Escorial, so it is also one of the reference buildings in Úbeda.
The facade comprises 2 towers at its ends with glazed ceramic roofs, and 2 other towers that frame the large central chapel. Besides, it has a vast courtyard in the center with a double arcade. Inside, the staircase stands out, decorated with fresco paintings by Pedro de Raxis and Gabriel Rosales.
Nowadays, it is used as an exhibition hall, congress center, and library.
- Address: Avda. Cristo Rey, 2
- Opening Hours: From Monday to Friday from 8 am to 2:30 pm and 4 pm to 21 pm. Weekend: from 10 am to 2:30 pm and 4 pm to 10 pm.
Úbeda, places of interest, My thoughts
If you don’t know Úbeda yet, I hope this post has inspired you to visit this ancient city, at least for 1 day. Its history, architecture and culture will surely amaze you. And of course, you will love its delicious gastronomy.
By the way, if you are looking for inspiration to explore other destinations, you can check out more interesting getaways in this link.
Pin for your Pinterest!