of the Renaissance Castles

This route focuses on the dominions of Francisco de los Cobos in the vicinity of his hometown, when he acquired the towns of Canena and Sabiote, where he made residential castles out of old military fortresses, always with an active role on the part of Vandelvira.
The route is articulated by the N-322 road.


8 km from Úbeda on the A-6103 regional road, we find the town of Sabiote, bought with all its term and inhabitants by Francisco de los Cobos in 1536 from the Military Order of Calatrava. The hero's hand would soon be seen in the rebuilding of the old Muslim castle or the impetus given to the parish church or the founding of the Discalced Carmelite convent by his widow. The name of Andrés de Vandelvira appears in some of those works and even shortly before, in one of the first appointments we have of the architect in Jaén, he appears in Sabiote making appraisals of works. His son Alonso would also live here until his transfer to Seville.

The church of San Pedro, the parish church, begun in the time of Bishop Suárez, at the beginning of the 16th century, adopts the plan of the living room with vaulted vaults, so typical of the master, and uses the same type of supports as that of Villacarrillo. Later, his collaborator, Alonso Barba, ended up taking the project, ending in the 17th century. A singular detail is the exterior arch as a stirrup for its technical difficulty, praised by Alonso de Vandelvira as the virtuosity of the father's canteril.

The castle, close to the church, transformed the old Islamic fortress into a modern castle-residence with walls designed for the defensive demands of the artillery of the time in keeping with Italian models. In the residential part, almost lost, there are ornamental remains of reliefs and capitals of extraordinary classical forms.

The Carmelitas Descalzas convent was founded by Dª María de Mendoza in 1584. With a classical and sober church and cloister, in which Alonso de Vandelvira will intervene.

On the outskirts of the town is the hermitage of San Ginés de la Jara, patron saint of the town, built in the 18th century. The best way to explore on foot is the historic center around the Castle and church, with the picturesque Albaizin neighborhood. The best views, from the castle over the Guadalimar valley.

Sabiote has small "charming" hotels and its kitchen offers traditional pasta dishes from the mountains and game meats.

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It is the first town that we find on the road with the footprint and presence of Vandelvira, seven kilometers from Úbeda, but it is convenient to stop two kilometers before at the Sanctuary of La Yedra, where the miraculous Christ of the same name is preserved, and object of pilgrimage of the nearby Baeza. The hermitage is classicist, from the early 17th century with a baroque dressing room from the mid-18th century.

In Rus you have to visit the parish church of La Asunción, built in the last third of the 16th century on a plan by A. de Vandelvira, although almost certainly finished by his collaborator and disciple, Alonso Barba, within the scheme of a basilical temple of naves separated by columns and covered with vaulted vaults.

Three kilometers from Rus, heading north, is El Mármol, a place that was one more town within the territory of the Cobos-Molina family, since it was acquired by Juan Vázquez in 1573, and whose family crest stands in the town's Fountain monumental in size, commissioned by the new owner. The church of Our Lady of Peace is the other piece to highlight. Built around the same dates as that of Rus, it is nevertheless simpler, of a ship, but almost certainly a trace also of Vandelvira. It has an interesting plaster altarpiece from the early 17th century.

Within the municipal term of Rus, but past El Mármol, next to the old road to Toledo, is the original cave Oratory of Valdecanales, a troglodyte construction as a hypogeum, for which dates between the 7th and 10th centuries of our time have been considered. it was linked more to the Mozarabs persecuted by the Caliphate, than to the Visigoths to whom it was originally linked. In any case, a unique monument of its kind of enormous historical interest.

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The town bought by Francisco de los Cobos in 1538 from the Order of Calatrava, has in its Castle, the patrimonial element of greatest relief, transformed or adapted its typical medieval low structure to a Renaissance residence, articulated by a magnificent classicist patio and with a high gallery open in the south gallery, authentic "belvedere" over the town and the stately domains of Cobos. The works started by the masters Tolosa and Castillo "el Viejo", in the end it will be Vandelvira who finishes it.

The parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, built in the mid-sixteenth century, responds to a variant of a temple with three naves separated by pillars and large forming arches and covered with armor for the nave and cased with a barrel for the presbytery.

Significant for Canena is also the San Andrés Spa, taking advantage of some old Roman baths, it is thought, today converted into a modern health and recreation establishment.

We can complete our route by continuing along the N-322 to the junction with the J-6101 road and from there return to Baeza, or continue to nearby Linares, where we find one of the last interventions of Vandelvira in his service to the Church of Jaén: the Parish Temple of Santa María, whose monumental head and transept indicate an interesting transformation operation of the old Gothic temple, which continues in the body of the church as the continuity of the work was interrupted with the death of the architect.

Linares, a mining town, which became independent from Baeza in the 16th century, would later acquire capital features due to its great development from the 19th century, thanks to the mines and the railroad, with an outstanding eclectic-historicist architecture, as well as a Baroque façade. in the purest Granada-Cordoba style: that of the old San Juan de Dios Hospital, from the middle of the 18th century, and an important Archaeological Museum, supplied above all by the rich site of the ancient Roman Castulo. It also has a good store and excellent tapas bars.

If we choose this extension to Linares, the route can be taken ten kilometers further south on the A-302 road, to the neighboring town of Jabalquinto. Before reaching this point, at kilometer 1.9 we find the Castle of Tobaruela, begun in the last quarter of the 15th century by the Lord of Tobaruela, Alonso López de Carvajal, but which must be framed within this type of residential castles .

In Jabalquinto, stands out the Palace of the Benavente, lords of Jabalquinto, a work from the 16th century, but enlarged and transformed in the 19th and 20th centuries, now restored, and the Parish Church of La Encarnación, whose cover of rigorous classicism has all the features of Vandelvira.

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Strongly walled city, which conveys to a certain extent the military importance it had in the Middle Ages both from a strategic point of view, as well as from its own social structure, also experienced an economic boom through its commercial and artisanal activity which it joined in the sixteenth century an important political-representative and cultural relief as it was the cradle of great statesmen, such as Francisco de los Cobos and Juan Vázquez de Molina, Secretaries respectively of Carlos V and Felipe II, and of other distinguished members of this family, which with specific construction companies (palaces, churches or hospitals) gave Úbeda a unique Renaissance mark.

The declaration of a monumental complex has its nucleus in the Plaza del Salvador, presided over by the funerary temple of El Salvador, the pantheon of Francisco de los Cobos and María de Mendoza, his wife, designed by Diego de Siloé, following classic models of rotunda inspired by the Pantheon of Rome connected to a nave, something already experienced in the cathedral of Granada. Andrés de Vandelvira, who was master executor, contributed from his harvest the layout of the sacristy, with the original portal open at an angle, and the two side panels.

Two palaces aligned on the north side of the square make up the space next to another, on the opposite side, recently rescued by archeology, that of the Orozco. The first two belonged, the one closest to the Chapel of El Salvador, to the clergyman, Hernando Ortega, known as Dean Ortega, for holding that position in the Cathedral of Malaga, Cobos's henchman, now a National Tourism Parador . The other, the so-called "Palacio de las Cadenas", was commissioned by Juan Vázquez de Molina (current City Hall). Both buildings are the work of Andrés de Vandelvira and represent two versions of the classic theme of the Roman house, but with original interpretations by the author.

In front of the Vázquez de Molina palace, the medieval Collegiate Church of Santa María de los Reales Alcázares, the highest-ranking church in the city, built between the 13th and 17th centuries, although most of its structural factory of three naves and cloister, it can be dated to the end of the 15th century, in a Gothic-Mudejar style. Only the exterior facades respond to the early seventeenth century, then reformed in the nineteenth century. Its chapels are noteworthy in its interior for its Renaissance movable art, in particular the series of bars by Maestro Bartolomé.

On the southern side of the square the nucleus of the old Alcazar rises slightly, today very uninhabited, but where you can see very interesting houses of popular tradition with curious elements of Hebraic sign on their facades, as if corresponding to what was the old Jewish quarter.

Behind the Chapel of El Salvador, the Hospital de Honrados Viejos, is part of the healthcare improvements that Cobos conceived for the city, in this case on a hospital foundation that has already existed since the end of the 14th century, also with plans for expansion and reform of Vandelvira, and that connects almost with the unfinished Palace of Francisco de los Cobos, in the street that bears his name, started with traces of the royal architect, Luis de Vega.

Continuing the tour to the north of the Plaza del Salvador, another important square centers the heart of the Gothic Úbeda: Plaza de San Pablo or del Mercado, articulated around the parish church of San Pablo, a 14th and 15th century Gothic temple with a façade, that of "the carpenters", older, from the thirteenth century, at the foot, and the primitive Town Hall, which shows a beautiful Renaissance loggia.

In the surroundings of this square is the Carmelite convent of San Miguel, with the Oratory of San Juan de la Cruz, where the saint died in 1591, although it is a work of the 18th century, rebuilt where his cell was. Now it houses a Museum with objects and memories of the saint. Not far from this convent, on Montiel street, is the Carmelo female convent with the title of La Concepción, founded at the end of the 16th century and built throughout the 17th century. It also has a museum with important sumptuary works. The Archaeological Museum is also nearby, installed in a Mudejar house from the 15th century, and some palatial houses from the 16th and 17th centuries, among a maze of medieval streets.

Towards the western sector of the intramural nucleus and behind the Plaza de San Pablo, Calle Real is the main artery that connects the Plaza de El Salvador with the Puerta de Toledo. In it is located the Palacio de Vela de Cobos, the work of Andrés de Vandelvira, already from his last years, internally renovated, but with an elegant and original facade. Meters further up the Palace of the Count of Guadiana, of turriform type, dated at the beginning of the XVII, sums up well the Vandelvirian influences.

Behind it, the parish church of San Pedro, of medieval origin with late Renaissance façades, and the Convent of Santa Clara, a Franciscan foundation from the 13th century, where Queen Isabel la Católica stayed one day, and next to it, another palace , trace of Vandelvira, that of the Marqués de la Rambla.

Interesting pieces of this sector, in its southern part, are the Casa de las Torres, an early Renaissance work, ordered to be built by the knight Don Andrés Dávalos, and near it the churches of San Lorenzo and Santo Domingo.

Outside the walled enclosure, in what were the outskirts of the city, the parochial churches of San Nicolás and San Isidoro stand out, both of Gothic origin but with important Renaissance elements directly or indirectly related to Vandelvira. The first of them owes to Vandelvira the design of its main portal, an original baptism chapel, a work of his maturity, and perhaps one of his first interventions in Úbeda: the Deán Ortega chapel, and with a clear Vandelvirian influence its Sacristy. In San Isidoro, an extensive reform begun shortly after Vandelvira's death by his collaborator, Alonso Barba, closely following the scheme of the Jaén cathedral, but interrupted at the height of the transept, continued in a sober way with a single nave In XVII century.

Equally noteworthy is the church and convent of La Trinidad, strategically located opposite the Puerta de Toledo and the very interesting Torre del Reloj, whose graceful upper body is designed by Vandelvira (1561). The convent is a medieval foundation, which has a spacious and elegant Renaissance cloister and a Baroque church from the 18th century.

But the undisputed part of the suburbs is the Hospital de Santiago, founded by the bishop of Jaén, Diego de los Cobos, in 1560, and the most breathtaking work of A. de Vandelvira in full maturity, where his architecture becomes more abstract , detached from superfluous ornamentation. To highlight within it, the staircase, the central patio and the chapel-pantheon.

Úbeda has a rich artisan tradition, mainly ceramics and plaiting materials. Also given its long commercial tradition, the visitor will find a good offer of all these objects in numerous shops on his walks around the city. However, a visit to the potters' neighborhood, the old parish or collation of San Millán, is highly recommended, structured by Valencia Street, which we arrive at by leaving through the historic Puerta del Local. There you can visit the pottery of Titos or the Hermanos Alameda, of recognized prestige.

As in Baeza, Úbeda offers a magnificent series of hotel establishments, located in old palaces.

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