This old and illustrious city is located in the geographic centre of Andalusia, close to the Guadalquivir river, in a landscape of fertile lands rich in vegetable and cereal fields, and olive groves.
The roots of the so-called 'Cerro del Alcázar', the first ‘Bronze City’, go back to prehistory when it was founded on a natural promontory. Iberians, Romans and Andalusians populated the walled hillock that today dominates a display of endless olive trees that descend all the way to the banks of the Guadalquivir. It was however with the advent of the first Modern Era in the 15th Century, that the city of Baeza became one of the main cultural, ecclesiastical and educational centres of the kingdoms of the Southern peninsula. During these times, the Italian ideas of the Renaissance entered each and every one of the city’s urban strands, giving birth to its most unique constructions.
Between the Plaza de Santa María, the centre of a magical medieval city that was ‘stopped in time’, and the Paseo de la Constitución, initially built to host the city’s market and now a meeting place for locals, visitors can follow a magnificent monumental trail. This path is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, one among many locations in Baeza to have received the honour. Religious buildings and monuments were also given spots on this prestigious list along with the city’s Cathedral, which used to be a major mosque, and the San Felipe Neri Seminary. On the nearby Plaza de Santa Cruz is Jabalquinto Palace, one of the finest examples of the Isabelline Gothic style, and the Old University. History lives on in Baeza with places like the Antiguas Carnicerías, where butchers would cut and sell their meat in the 16th century, or the Balcón del Concejo and the ruins of the convent of San Francisco, remnants of the city’s life throughout the centuries.
This calm and tranquil city will also be enjoyed by strolling through its streets. The silence and the aromas of its oils might make visitors believe that Baeza is small and industrious when in reality it is a town of incomparable culture. Its unique architecture and artistic treasures inspired the famous Spanish poet Antonio Machado during his seven-year residence as a French teacher in the town’s secondary school. Before him, Saint John of the Cross and Argote de Molina -a soldier turned writer- were also famous residents of the city. The golden light of its buildings still shines upon the muses who inspired them. Taking a walk among those streets fills visitors with an impression of the illustrious celebrities who left their mark on the city.
With its long history, Baeza still lives at the rhythm of seasons. The year is marked by the traditional Easter Week, during which popular religious fervour resonates in the entire province of Jaén. Processions here are more intimate than in neighbouring Úbeda but they are a perfect moment to enjoy the city and its hospitality. Another annual event to witness is set during autumn at the end of the Yedra pilgrimage.
Outside of the city, the district of Baeza is also the location of Laguna Grande, a protected park. In addition to its natural beauty, this spot is also of great ecological importance and the largest in the entire province. Fed by the Torres river, the lake is home to multiple species, most notably birds, which makes it an ideal location for natural tourism enthusiasts.