Ubeda is one of the jewel’s in Andalucia’s crown, an elegant and cultural town. Included on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an early example of Renaissance civic architecture, it’s an easy drive from Granada, Jaen, Carmona and Seville. For our road trip, we’d booked into some of Spain’s most historic hotels, the Paradors. These iconic properties are located in scenic areas and are often landmarks in their own right. The Parador of Úbeda is situated right in the centre of the old town in a 16th century palace. The Palacio del Deán Ortega was originally built for Fernando Ortego, dean of Malaga Cathedral, but he died before it was completed. It’s next to the Pantheon, one of Ubeda’s most impressive sights, on the pedestrian main square.
Entering the Parador, you’re immediately struck by the sense of space in the covered inner courtyard.
The interior is filled with genuine antiques including this attractive ironwork light. It’s one half of a pair with the other in the Palacio Vela de los Cobos.
Our spacious room opened onto a Juliet balcony, overlooking a quiet courtyard.
There was an attractive tiled floor, beautiful carved wood shutters and a good sized bathroom with two vanity basins.
After a relaxing evening and a great night’s sleep, we were ready to meet Pablo, our tour guide, who knows Ubeda like the back of his hand. He’s actually the town’s Festival Director but with his excellent English and local expertise, he’s often called upon to show around overseas visitors. It was pouring with rain, which is very rare in the area, as we headed to Sacra Capilla de El Salvador, next door to the Parador.
Known locally as the Pantheon, it was commissioned as a mausoleum by Francisco de los Cobos y Molina. Designed by celebrated Renaissance architect Andrés de Vandelvira, who also built Jaen’s Cathedral, it was built between 1536 and 1559. These days it’s a Catholic chapel, owned by the Medinaceli family, descendants of the Cobos.
The Colegiata de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares is a short walk from the chapel and also located on Plaza Vázquez de Molina, the old town’s magnificent Renaissance square. There was previously a Roman temple on this site, then a Moorish mosque and the church itself was constructed from 1510 to 1645. It was declared a National Monument in 1926 and is Ubeda’s main church. The barrel-vaulted ceiling is particularly impressive and was created in the seventeenth century.
Opposite the church is the Palacio Vazquez de Molina, another masterpiece by Andrés de Vandelvira, constructed between 1546 and 1565. It was commissioned by Juan Vazquez de Molina, secretary of State for Philip II and the nephew of Francisco de los Cobos, and is now the City hall.
Next we visited the Palacio de Vela de los Cobos, a real highlight of our Ubeda trip. Whilst it’s true that the palace itself has some impressive heirlooms, what makes it so special in my eyes is that the owner showed us around. It’s moments like these which make me so grateful to do what I do l, as he rarely shows people around now. I won’t reveal his age but if I reach it and still have a twinkle in my eye and such an interest in everything, I’ll be very happy! He has worked hard with the local municipality to preserve the palace and his former bedroom is exactly as it was when he was a young boy.
The library is a truly impressive space with many first editions and is particularly popular with scholars.
What a great ending to a fabulous visit. Ubeda is somewhere that I’d love to return to, for its timeless elegance and old school charm. I have it on good authority that the tapas are excellent too! It was time for the next leg of our road trip, travelling on to charming Carmona. We’d parked our car close by and were able to locate it easily with the help of ZUS. This vehicle locator, backed by an App, even has a countdown that tells you how long you have been parked somewhere, which should help avoid any fines for overstaying! It’s also a handy smart car charger that charges two devices, two times faster than normal car chargers.
Our stay at the Parador of Ubeda was complimentary for the purposes of this review