Baeza is a town of approximately 16,200 inhabitants in Andalusia, Spain, in the province of Jaén, perched on a cliff in the "Loma de Úbeda", a mountain range between the river Guadalquivir on the south and its tributary the Guadalimar on the north. It is chiefly known today as having many of the best-preserved examples of Italian Renaissance architecture in Spain. UNESCO added Baeza and Úbeda to the World Heritage Sites list in 2003.
The town has existed since Roman times, when it was called Beatia. It became the seat of a bishop between 656 and 675, when the see of Castulo was transferred to Beatia, and remained such until the 13th century, when the see was transferred to Jaén. No longer a residential bishopric, Beatia is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.
In the Middle Ages Baeza was a flourishing Moorish city, said to contain 50,000 inhabitants, but it fell to the forces of Ferdinand III of Castile in 1227. The Jaén and Úbeda gates, and the arch of Baeza, are among the remains of its Moorish fortifications.
In the 16th century, Baeza and nearby Úbeda grew rich from the production of textiles, and local nobles hired important architects, such as Andrés de Vandelvira, to design new palaces, churches and public squares in the fashionable Italian style. The economy collapsed in the 17th century, which had the fortunate side effect of preserving Baeza's Renaissance architectural legacy, because few newer structures were built.
Baeza's sights include:
Town Hall (Ayuntamiento), a Plateresque building originally built as Court House and Prison, hence its two independent doors.
The university, established in 1538, which is now a secondary school
Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, built above a former Moorish mosque. It was converted to the Christian rite by King Alfonso VII of Castile in 1147. After another period as a mosque, it was restored to Christianity in 1227 by Ferdinand III of Castile. The most ancient part of the edifice are the lower part of the bell tower, of cubic shape, and three Islamic arches, now hidden. The current edifice was built from 1529, in Gothic style, including a nave and two aisles, pilasters and crossed vaults. The tower was remade in 1549 and the Chapel of St. Michael was added in 1560. The whole construction was completed by Andrés de Vandelvira, who added Renaissance elements.
Romanesque church of Santa Cruz. It has a nave and two aisles, with a semicircular apse; one of the side walls include a Visigothic arch.
Palacio de Jabalquinto. The entrance gate is sided by two cylindrical pilasters with Plateresque capitals with mocárabes, and between them are decorations in final Gothic style. In the interior are a Renaissance courtyard and a Baroque staircase.
Squares of Plaza de España and the Paseo de la Constitucíon
Chapel of St. Francis, founded in 1538. It's the ruins of a Renaissance building.
Gothic church of St. Paul, with a Renaissance portal. It has a nave and two aisles with Gothic-style chapels. Pablo de Olavide is buried here.
Úbeda Gate, of which only one of the three original arcades has remained.
Fountain of St. Mary (1564)
Fountain of the Lions, coming from the Iberian-Roman city of Cástulo. It has been suggested that it could represent Himilce, wife of the Carthaginian general Hannibal.
Seminary of St. Philip Neri (1660)
Santa Maria cathedral façade, designed by Andrés de Vandelvira.
Row of Renaissance palaces.
Narrow Streets in Baeza
Olive oil museum in La Laguna
Baeza is 327 kilometres (203 miles) by highway south of Madrid. It has a RENFE rail station (Linares - Baeza) 15 kilometres (9 miles) southwest on the Linares-Almeria railway and bus transportation from Granada, Málaga and Madrid.
The nearest international airports are in Granada, 132 kilometres (82 miles) south and Málaga, 241 kilometres (150 miles) to the southwest.
Baeza was the birthplace of the sculptor and painter Gaspar Becerra. Also, two of the most important mystics and writers of the sixteenth century resided in Baeza, Saint John of Ávila and Saint John of the Cross. The modernist poet Antonio Machado worked as a teacher in Baeza from 1912 until 1919, and it is believed that his most notable prose work, Juan de Mairena, was inspired by his experience there.