Andalucia Diary – Seasonal Travel Notes

Renaissance Weekend

The Moors has dominated much of Andalucía for centuries
leaving a distinct and powerful architectural heritage.Yet, Andaluz also boasts a proud European cultural heritage
and enjoyed the highs of the Renaissance period where science, technology,
commerce and art combined to create a high point in terms of architecture for
this area. Made wealthy by the poor
working the estates, the nobility competed in building the most stunning homes,
places and public building likes churches and colleges. Úbeda is probably one
of the finest examples of an Andalucían Renaissance City, almost hidden in Jaen
province. In fact it is known as “la ciudad perdida”, as written about by poet
Federico García Lorca.Img_1991
This was my
first time driving across this part of Andalucia.
It’s the biggest supplier of olive
oil, and looking at the kilometres and kilometres of groves, stretching as far
as the eye can see, it’s no surprise.
Nothing on
the drive gives one any indication of what is about to be discovered.
neat but somewhat boring olive groves would occasionally be interrupted by the
odd, ugly town either surrounded by smoky olive processing plants, ceramic or furniture
factories and stores. But the journey is
well worth it, as suddenly one comes across Úbeda.
It truly is
a gem and seems to only recently to have been recognised as a world heritage
site and the Junta de Andalucía is beginning to kick start a enormous task of
renovating and saving the huge array of Renaissance architecture that fills the
centre of the city.
Everywhere you look there is a stunning former home
of the nobility, or a church with breathtaking detail in its construction. With
their warm, sandstone walls and intricately carved detailing, each building
combines to make stunning streets. I will add a photo album on the site to give
an idea. About half the centre is either
renovated or being reformed – with streets upon streets of building waiting to
be rescued. In the heart of the old town
is a Parador, affording a great place to take a coffee in the peaceful, sun
filled patio.
Baeza is
close by and although much smaller, shares the Renaissance heritage of its
wealthier neighbour, with a wonderfully selection of buildings and narrow
streets to explore.
Img_2006There are
also two charming boutique hotels in the town.
As the sun
was going down, we arrived in
Jaen, with its outstanding Cathedral. Other than that, nothing really to right home about, with its hideous 60s and 70s town
architecture that has almost completely eclipsed the beauty of the few Renaissance
building left standing. We’d mistakenly booked a hotel over the internet at the
last minute and found it was out of town, next to a gas station and opposite a
concrete factory! No quite the
Renaissance Andalucían theme I had in mind this weekend! As a testament to how friendly Spanish folk can really be
here, the receptionist managed to cancel out internet booking without charge so
we could stay somewhere a little enchanting! We secured
a last minute room in the Parador, proudly positioned in the Castillo de
Santa Catalina, with stunning views of the Renaissance
Cathedral belowDsc00011, the countryside beyond and the snow capped mountains in the

Before I
sign off, it must be said that today is of course the second anniversary of the
horrific terrorist bombings on the commuter trains in
Madrid.  I echo the words left on a card with flowers at a Madrid Metro
Station; “Justicia, Tolerancia, Paz”,

Baeza –

from the gloriously kitch and dramatic cinematic shorts,
“Andalucia es de cine”  – now available on DVD
in English and Spanish

Be the first to like.

  1. Emmaline
    EmmalineMar 16, 2006

    Hey Andrew,
    Just a quick note to say Happy Birthday! Hope you have something amazing planned, I look forward to reading all about it here soon..
    Best wishes,

  2. Pauline & Mike
    Pauline & MikeAug 16, 2007

    We enjoyed your blog whilst searching for the less-touristy info about Ubeda, Cordoba and Merida.
    Whenever we’re in Spain we’re always on the search for spontaneous music in bars rather than the come-by-coach flamenco haunts. Do you have any tips? We shall be there early Sept- a couple of nights in each town before returning to the casa in Nerja.
    Thanks in anticipation
    Pauline & Mike

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Andrew ForbesTravel & Lifestyle Marketing Communications Consultant | Travel Editor Web: Twitter : @andrewaforbes Instagram @andrewaforbes and @luxurynavigatorView all posts by Andrew Forbes »