of the Country

The tour begins with the dominions of the powerful Secretary, Francisco de los Cobos, to pass to those of another illustrious family for whom Vandelvira also worked: the Benavides, counts of Santisteban, whose county borders the Advancement of Cazorla and the foothills of Sierra Morena where the colonization of Carlos III took place. Confluence of times and styles go hand in hand in this interesting territory, also of extraordinary natural beauty.


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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Navas de San Juan

Leaving Sabiote by the local highway J-6010 until joining the J-8102 from Villacarrillo to Navas de San Juan.
Located in the center of the Condado, Navas offers us the church of San Juan Bautista, which occupies the site of what was once a palace of the Benavides. It is a temple from the last quarter of the 16th century, with a nave and a slender tower with an octagonal spire, all in the Vandelvirian style that the followers of the Master continue, most likely Alonso Barba.
Of special interest is the Pilgrimage of the Virgen de la Estrella, on May 1, whose sanctuary is 5 km on the J-7103 road, on the way to Úbeda (we choose to visit it on the way back). It is a festival declared of National Tourist Interest since 1984.
The Virgin is also the patron saint of Sabiote, a town with whom the image is disputed and shared.
In terms of gastronomy, its pastries stand out (poyas de leche).

Santisteban  del Puerto

About twenty km from Navas, along the A-312 road (“County Highway”), you reach the head of the Señorío that Mendo Rodríguez de Benavides obtained in 1371 from the hands of Enrique II. The town, which has a rich history of settlements since ancient times, even with a small “Jurassic park” with dinosaur fossil footprints, has not, however, been very fortunate with its medieval and modern heritage, despite the important endowments that it had. Hardly anything remains of the castle that dominates the town, of caliphal origin, and very little of the Ejido convent, only its Mudejar armor.

The church of Santa María del Collado, is the one that preserves, even with sensible reforms, more remains of its medieval past in what is the body of the church, preceded by a Renaissance fish market from the end of the 16th century and a Baroque dressing room dated in Around 1770. Renaissance is also the wooden gate that separates the choir from the feet, occupied by simple stalls, all dated by Bishop Delgado's coat of arms around 1575.

This church also keeps the remains of an altarpiece from the early seventeenth century with a good relief of God the Father, the work of Sebastián de Solís, and three panels, painted in oil, from the parish of San Estaban, dating from the first third of the century XVI, belonging to the artistic circle of Úbeda.

Of the parish church of San Esteban, renovated at the end of the 19th century, within the dominant eclectic historicist style, only part of the original Gothic sanctuary remains. The tower is nonetheless noteworthy.

In the Plaza Mayor you can visit the Jacinto Higueras Museum, a sculpture museum in honor of the illustrious sculptor of the last century, son of the town.

Among the numerous annual festivities that Santisteban celebrates, the one of the "Stewardship" stands out, which takes place on Easter week in honor of the Virgen del Collado with the ritual of the "Taking of the Picture" by the Butler who has to to carry out that year the preparations for the festival that consists of making bread with the wheat offered previously in September and offering a great meal to the attendees. It is also accompanied with bullfighting.

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13 km from Santisteban on the same road to the Condado, is this town famous for its famous Iberian Sanctuary, located in the Lobera cave, which has provided a large number of votive offerings and other materials with which in part a Iberian art museum in the so-called Torre de Pallarés, a medieval tower next to the current Town Hall.

The classicist mark is provided by the Collegiate Church of Santiago, a teaching and religious foundation carried out by Mendo de Benavides, a native of the town, bishop of Cartagena-Murcia and President of the Chancellery of Granada, in 1633, with the project and realization of Juan de Aranda Salazar , Senior Master of the Cathedral of Jaén, and worthy heir to the best stonework school of the 16th century in Jaén. To highlight in his Sacristy the series of portraits of Pontiffs and landscape paintings.

The Parish Church of the Incarnation is Gothic in style but with a sacristy much in the style of Juan de Aranda, the result of the reforms carried out at the head in the 17th century. The main cover is also of sober classicism of that century. As a movable art, its baroque altarpiece stands out.

The whole environment of the parish deserves to be visited for the good conservation of its hamlet in which we find Renaissance facades as interesting as that of the House of the Ten, on Antonio Díez street, of a quite licentious Renaissance style in its ornamentation.

Of greater packaging is the old Ducal Palace of Medinaceli, current headquarters of the City Council, opposite the Collegiate Church, which belonged to the Dukes of Medinaceli, when absorbing the title of the County. It is, however, a late Renaissance work, completely renovated inside to adapt it to the new use.

About 3 km from the town is the Consolación hermitage, next to the remains of an old medieval castle, in a beautiful natural setting. The large hermitage houses the image of the patron saint and is the subject of a festive Pilgrimage on May 3 when the image of the hermitage is transferred to the town, where it remains until September.

The May holiday is rounded off with a famous Rapid Painting Contest, the last week of the month.

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Sorihuela del Guadalimar

The Condado highway takes us beyond its original limits to this town, which was part of the Four Villages of the Cazorla Advancement, but which due to its geographical location and communications, is now included here. A sister of Vandelvira married to a stonemason, Juan de Bedoya, lived in Sorihuela, and Vandelvira himself intervened in the tower of his parish church. This temple dedicated to Santa Águeda, is of a very simple plan, but with an interesting presbytery, carved in stone, all attributable to the follower of Vandelvira, Alonso Barba, with the collaboration of Sebastián de Solís. This master sculptor is credited with the crucified that presides over the front, a magnificent Mannerist carving.

From this point we begin the return by the same A-312 to Navas de San Juan, and from there take the local J-7103 that leads us to Úbeda. However, you can continue along the A-312 to nearby Arquillos, a town resulting from the colonization of Carlos III in Sierra Morena, and from there, connecting with the A-301 highway, well visit Vilches if you wish, where its Parish church, from the 17th century, which preserves banners from the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, and the hermitage of the Virgen del Castillo, in the fortress that dominates the town, with interesting frescoes from the 18th century, or return for that same road to Úbeda.

If you choose the Navas de San Juan road, we pass by the Virgen de las Estrella Sanctuary, before connecting with the A-301, which comes from Vilches. Once on this road, it is worth a detour at km. 36, by another local road, J.3217, to see the Ariza Bridge, a superb engineering work by Andrés de Vandelvira, dated 1562, which crossed the Guadalimar on the road from Úbeda to Toledo. Along that same road, a little further on is the Guadalupe Monastery, a sanctuary where the Virgen del Gavellar, patron saint of Úbeda, whose pilgrimage is celebrated at the beginning of May, is venerated.

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