Hospital de Santiago

Calle Obispo Cobos, 2. 23400, Úbeda How to get

Monument declared a Site of Cultural Interest on April 3, 1917. Don Diego de los Cobos y Molina, brother of Juan Vázquez de Molina and relative of the famous secretary of Carlos V, Don Francisco de los Cobos, continuing with the family building career in the city of Úbeda conceived the idea of founding a great hospital with the invocation of Santiago, Patron of Spain. Don Diego de los Cobos was one of the important characters of Jaén in the 16th century. He stood out as a theologian and canonist, was bishop of Ávila and Jaén (1560-1565) and a member of the Council of Felipe II. He died in Toledo, in 1565, while attending a provincial council to promulgate the provisions of the Council of Trent.


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On September 17, 1562, he wrote the founding statutes, clearly specifying in the first of the clauses the authorship by Andrés de Vandelvira of the entire project: “Firstly, we order that the said house and hospital be finished according to the order and trace that Andrés de Vandelvira, stonemason master, has given, according to which said work has begun (...) ”. The functions of this great group are various and are related to the life and work of its founder. In the first place, it is a hospital for patients with “bubas” (later the assistance to other diseases was expanded); secondly, a chapel for divine worship, which must be erected "(...) according to the outline given by the saying Andrés de Vandelvira, stonemason master (...)". Thirdly, burial "( ... wherever our body is buried and brought from where he would like us to die (...) ”, but also some rooms would be reserved for his private residence in the East wing.

The building had to house all types of personnel destined for sanitary and spiritual maintenance. Built on a large site outside the walls, as was mandatory for this large-scale health-care works, close to the hermitage of San Lázaro and, therefore, at the entrance to Úbeda from Baeza. This hospital, like many others built in the 16th century in Spain, due to its enormous monumentality, was destined to become an indisputable urban hub in the expansion outside the city of Úbeda. Indeed, it is currently one of the most important architectural and cultural landmarks in the city.

The construction began before 1562, but for unknown reasons the works were interrupted for almost two years, to continue at the end of 1564 and not stop until its completion in 1575, ten years after the death of its founder. Its large façade, articulated on two floors, is of a landscape design and extremely sober; it is preceded by a wide raised market of the road adorned by four thick Doric columns with lions seated in them that support the shield of the founder. The entrance portal, with a relief depicting a Santiago Matamoros, and two large towers at the ends with no apparent function, monumentally end the complex on this southern side, leaving the rest of the sides perfectly isolated from the outside by high walls and dependencies. The central courtyard, in the manner of the palaces, is articulated with double pandas on its four sides made up of five lowered semicircular arches lowered on elegant white marble columns of the Corinthian order. The large staircase is covered with a superb vault decorated with an extensive iconographic program in which, among other figures, effigies of Hispanic kings are represented, from Alfonso VIII to Felipe II; on the front of it there is a large shield of Don Diego de los Cobos. On the sides of this central courtyard, oriented towards the fenced exterior spaces, there are two columnar secondary courtyards, also with an elegant layout.

The church opens onto the patio through three large and beautiful bars, carved between 1573 and 1575 by the Ubeta master Juan Álvarez de Molina, according to a Vandelvira project. It is the most innovative piece and is far from what has been done so far in this type of ecclesiastical spaces. Here Andrés de Vandelvira designs an unusual form within his production. A large rectangle, with two towers in its center, which internally become tribunes and which in turn give rise to two other rectangles separated by these volumetric bodies. The result is an original plan in the shape of an “H” with the main chapel highlighted, the central space being covered with vaulted vaults and the side chapels with half-barrel vaults. The vaults of the central section are embellished with frescoes painted at the end of the 16th century by Pedro de Raxis and Gabriel de Rosales, who were also authors of the decoration of the sacristy and ante-church.

With this monumental ensemble Andrés de Vandelvira ends in an extraordinary way the series of interventions carried out in the city of Úbeda, being in any case one of his most outstanding works and one of the most superb examples of 16th century Spanish hospital architecture.


The architectural complex of this Hospital was ornamented with important works of art (paintings, stalls, bars, altarpieces, etc.), which have been partially preserved to this day. The three bars that close the access arches to the church still remain in place, through which and from the main courtyard the faithful could pray or visualize its interior. In 1573 the rejero Juan Álvarez de Molina contracted the making of the three bars in accordance with the sample and conditions made by Andrés de Vandelvira, responsible for the architectural work, but also for a good part of the decorative work. It is known that Vandelvira was a good connoisseur and designer of the fence technique. Domínguez Cubero believes that "(... the Renaissance grille of Jaén was born by Úbeda and precisely due to designs by Andrés de Vandelvira ...)".

The fresco pictorial program developed in the large stairwell, church, antechrist and sacristy was of great importance throughout the last quarter of the 16th century, all attributed to the painters Gabriel Rosales and Pedro de Raxis. Bishops, virgins, kings of Spain, the great shield of the founder Diego de los Cobos, etc .; in the antecristy, prophets, Atlanteans and caryatids; in the sacristy Olympian gods, Church Fathers, founders of religious orders and heraldic shields; in the church, the punishment of Adam and Eve, the death of Abel and imitation of marbles and cartouches with epigraphy; in the basement original sin and expulsion from Paradise. The great altarpiece (destroyed among other furniture in 1936) was carved by Blas Briñón and Luis de Zayas, with gilding and painting by the painters Rosales and Rajis. De Rajis is the canvas of a Santiago Matamoros hanging in the chapel on the Epistle side. Briñon also carved the stalls, whose recomposed remains - like an altarpiece - can be admired in the Main Chapel.