The province of Jaen boasts two of Spain’s most remarkable renaissance towns, Úbeda and Baeza. Thanks to the relative lack of economic development over the last half of the twentieth century, these two towns have remained almost untouched; a living museum of some of the finest palaces, churches and public buildings. Now these towns are a huge source of cultural tourism to the area, with visitors drawn by the unprecedented, preserved architecture, beautiful countryside and exceptional cuisine.
Úbeda was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 and is centred on the imposing Vázquez de Molina Square, surrounded by ornate, golden sandstone buildings. This is a town to explore at a mellow pace, as at every turn there is a site to relish.
Neighbouring Baeza was also recognised by UNESCO is 2003. It is a smaller town, but no less impressive with many of Spain’s best examples of Italian Renaissance architecture. Elegant squares, intricate fountains and palatial homes define Baeza. The original university, now part of the University of Granada, and the cathedral are amongst the highlights of this exquisite town.
Both cater for the sophisticated traveller, with boutique hotels, a couple of upscale tapas bars and one or two fancy restaurants; and of course there are lots of fantastis, authentic bars and ventas where you can eat for very little and still enjoy some great local flavours, and with plenty of olive oil.
These are islands of culture amongst a sea of olive groves.