Guest Author - Rachel L Webb
Beautiful Baeza, a glorious small country town in Jaen packed with Renaissance monuments to discover as you wander the narrow streets. It is twinned with Úbeda by UNESCO, just 8km away.
Baeza is the smaller and more attractive of the two, 48 km north-west of Jaén city and 9km from Úbeda. Renaissance buildings and at times Renaissance dress abound. This is a town to take slowly, and although a day trip is possible it really warrants a longer visit.
Baeza has been named "Exemplar Renaissance City" by the Europe Council, and Historic-Artistic Ensemble, by UNESCO.
Its heyday was the 16th century when the local nobility spent their wealth on glorious sandstone and Gothic mansions, churches and cathedrals. Textile and grain trading is not in evidence today but the legacy of gorgeous monuments built from the industry remain in this country town.
What to see in Baeza
The centre of the town is the long wide Paseo de la Constitución. Here or on the beautiful Plaza del Pópulo, you can pass a moment of two in contemplation and watch the Italian-made tourist train potter along the streets or admire the Casa del Pópulo built in 1540, which now houses the town’s tourist office.
Palm trees grace the Plaza, along with the Fuente de Leones, Fountain of the Lions, built with stone carvings from the village of Cástulo, and topped with a statue that’s believed to represent the princess from Cástulo, Imilce, who married Hannibal.
Palacio de Jabalquinto, an early 16th century mansion has a beautifully ornate Gothic façade and a pretty Renaissance-style patio.
The Iglesia de la Santa Cruz, a lovely little church, is said to be the only remaining 13th century Romanesque church left in Andalucia.
The huge cathedral has some early Gothic features such as the 13th century Puerta de la Luna, the Moon doorway, but its main frontage is in the 16th century Renaissance-style, a design of Andres de Vandelvira who also designed some of Ubeda’s works and the enormous cathedral in Jaén.
The Antigua Universidad, the old university is now a high school which is open to visitors Mon- Fri mornings.
Around 8 km from Baeza is an intesting olive oil museum, El Museo de la Cultura del Olivo, located at Hacienda de la Laguna. The visit is shows the methods used to extract oil from the fruit, in the old traditional method to the modern-day processes of extraction and packaging.
The tour starts with a visit to the Jardín de Variedades, Variety Garden, where more than 30 different species of olives are grown. Examples from Tunisia, Italy, Greece and Egypt as well as the Spanish varieties can be seen.
Bus connections are frequent to the local towns of Cazorla, Jaen and Ubeda with less frequent but still daily services to Cordoba, Seville and Madrid.
The nearest train station is Linares-Baeza about 16km away, with good bus links for most trains.