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Sacred Chapel of the Savior

The Sacred Chapel of the World’s Savior)is the funerary pantheon of one of the most important figures of the time, Francisco de los Cobos, secretary of Emperor Carlos V. The temple is one of the most successful examples of the Spanish Renaissance, so it is a must see in Úbeda.

But what really links this temple to the figure of Muñoz Molina is its façade, where the representation of the “juancaballos” is carved, mythical creatures from the Sierra de Mágina that the author rescues to echo the phenomena and legends of the rural spaces. Although the real image chiseled on the facade is from Greek mythology, Hercules fighting a Centaur, to give greater emphasis to local history, the author unfolds a story that enhances the real possibility of its existence in the characters of the novel.

“The proof that the juancaballos existed […], was carved in stone, on the facade of the church of El Salvador, […], so that, if they had been sculpted in such a sacred place, together to the statues of the saints and under the relief of the Transfiguration of the Lord, my grandfather argued, smiling, you had to be a very heretic to not believe in them … “

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman.

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Sculpture to the Fallen

The Town Hall square, also known as the Plaza de the Fallen for the sculpture it houses, stands between the Vázquez de Molina square, where you can find authentic Renaissance works such as the Sacra Capilla del Salvador and the San Lorenzo neighborhood. This is where Antonio Muñoz Molina lived his childhood and youth. A sculpture that is located in the center of the square and is dedicated to all those who died in the Spanish Civil War. It was made in 1951 by the Cadiz-born image master Juan Luis Vasallo.

The Ubeda author makes mention of this square and / or its sculpture several times in his work The Polish Horseman, both to evoke his usual route to the San Lorenzo neighborhood, and to recall interesting aspects in the novel.

“[…] and it was Don Mercurio who commissioned it […], an artist who later became very famous […], Eugenio Utrera, you may have got to know him, he also made the That monument in the Plaza de los Caídos […] “

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman.

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San Lorenzo neighborhood

Going down Calle Cava, we find the peculiar neighborhood of San Lorenzo, a place where Antonio Muñoz Molina spent his childhood and which becomes another protagonist in his work, with its cobbled streets, white houses, churches and palaces … .

The author recreates in this neighborhood a literary space that is a key element to understand and interpret the action of the story, identifying specific spaces in the neighborhood such as the Cava gardens (both in Full Moon and in The Polish Horseman), the Church of San Lorenzo, the Puerta de Granada, the cobbled streets or its viewpoints.

The Cava gardens (both in Full Moon and in the Polish Rider).

(…) In the Cava gardens, around the statue of Second Lieutenant Rojas Navarrete, who looks straight north just as General Orduña looks south […] “

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman.

The Church of San Lorenzo and the Puerta de Granada.

(…) Covered by ivy up to the cross of its pinnacle, the belfry of the church of San Lorenzo remains impossibly standing, but the pillar of the wall, next to the Granada gate […] “

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman.

The cobbled and dark streets.

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Residence of Antonio Muñoz Molina

The house where Muñoz Molina lived is located as the nerve center of the San Lorenzo neighborhood, within the analogous square, a location he used as a resource in different parts of the novel The Polish Horseman.

The house, which is still family-owned, cannot be visited, but displays a plaque on the façade that recalls the uniqueness of being the home of such an illustrious author.

“[…] and that night, in his bedroom, from whose window he could see in the moonlight the facade of the House of the Towers and the oblique shadows of the gargoyles […]”

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman

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La Casa de las Torres (House of the Towers)

Casa de las Torres is a palace in the style of an urban tower palace (hence its popular name) and currently houses the School of Arts and Crafts of Úbeda, with studies of Artistic Cabinetmaking, Engraving and Stamping Techniques, Projects and Direction of Decoration Works and Bachelor of Arts. The palace is a space widely mentioned by Antonio Muñoz Molina in his work The Polish Horseman, novelizing the legend of “The Immured”, a female corpse discovered at the beginning of the 20th century after renovation works on the palace. The remains are assigned to Lady Ana de Orozco. According to legend, driven by revenge, her husband, Andrés Dávalos, dressed her in nun’s robes, placed a rosary in her hands and bricked her up alive. This could have happened by the middle of the 16th century.

“[…] he saw again the face of the Immured Lady in the House of Towers and her eyes, hallucinated by darkness and death, he saw his grandfather Manuel dressed in the uniform of the Assault Guard and thought that it was time to go back to Magina […] “

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman.

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Palace of the Orozco

Strolling around, we approach the Plaza de San Pedro, where the Palacio de los Orozco is located, the only example in Úbeda of 19th century palatial architecture, with French influence and modernist touches. The Palacio de los Orozco is one of the settings where Antonio Muñoz Molina develops the action of his novel Beatus Ille in Mágina.

“The palace is older than the acacias and hedges, but the fountain was already there when they built it, brought from Italy four centuries ago by a duke who was very devoted to Michelangelo […]”

Antonio Muñoz Molina. Beatus Ille.

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The clock tower

The Clock Tower is located in the Plaza de Andalucía, next to the Tourist Office. It has its origin in a tower belonging to the Arab wall, built in the 13th century and was part of the defense of the main entrance to the town. It was not until the middle of the 16th century when the tower was adapted to house the clock, and today it constitutes a symbolic element of the town and a magnificent place to see Úbeda from a bird’s eye view, apart from housing the oldest bells in the city.

For Antonio Muñoz Molina, the Clock Tower is a representative presence of his novels and he locates it in the General Orduña square, also the main space in Magina.

(…) “Winter nights, at the end of the year, the shop windows on Calle Nueva and Calle del Real streets lit up very late, loudspeakers with Christmas carols in the arcades of the General Orduña square, the acacias adorned with flashing lights, the Star of Bethlehem on the clock tower […] “

The Polish Horseman. Antonio Muñoz Molina

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Statue of General Orduña

General Leopoldo Saro was a prominent military and politician in the first quarter of the 20th century. He had family ties with the province of Jaén, and was the promoter of numerous activities of a social, cultural and economic nature. He promoted in Ubeda the opening of the municipal library, various school groups, the Parador de Turismo, the reconstruction of the Casa de las Torres as the School of Arts and Crafts and the Ideal Cinema Theater. He also contributed to the development of the Baeza-Utiel railway line, although it never came into operation.

It comes to no surprise that General Saro was appointed adoptive son of Úbeda. A statue was erected in his honor in the Plaza Primero de Mayo, then relocated to the Plaza Vieja or Toledo, which was later renamed Plaza del General Saro and now Plaza de Andalucía.

The general was assassinated in August 1936 by republican militiamen and it seems that his statue was later shot by an anarchist squad. Antonio Muñoz Molina uses the figure of General Saro and his square to create his own general, General Orduña, as well as his own literary space, General Orduña square, which is present in some of his works (Beatus Ille and The Polish Horseman). He even uses the “shooting of the statue” argument to include it in Beatus Ille.

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Church of San Isidoro

The Church of San Isidoro is a place that Muñoz Molina sometimes recreates in his novels, as he does in The Polish Horseman, where, in addition to capturing the “atmosphere” of Magina, he uses it to locate some of his peculiar characters, such as its bullfighting parish priest.

(…) He recalled that there was no light in that narrow street, which lead to the San Isidoro clearing, with its fountain whose flow he heard at the same time as the splash in the mud of a horse’s hooves, which shaking his head, made the harness of a car rattle] ”(…)

The Church of San Isidoro, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and built on ancient remains of a mosque, is of extraordinary interest as it is one of the few Gothic constructions in a city famous for its Renaissance art. In fact, although the exterior has two Gothic façades in the Flamboyant Gothic style -represented mainly in the pinnacles-, the interior is in the style of Renaissance.

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Food Market

We will continue on the itinerary with a space constantly mentioned by Muñoz Molina in his novel The Polish Horseman, Mercado de Abastos( Food Market). Here his father used to come every morning to sell the products hard-harvested in the family garden.

(…) “It should have dawned by now, his father would be in the market ordering the damp and shiny vegetables on the marble counter, maybe wondering from time to time where he was, where to of those cities he dreamt as a teenager would his stray profession of interpreter might have taken him. ” (…)

Antonio Muñoz Molina. The Polish Horseman.

Although since 1878 there was great concern to provide the city with a food market to avoid street sales, it was not until 1933 that the building was commissioned to the architect from Linares, Mr. Luis Casanova Vila, and the construction concluded in 1935.

The Mercado de Abastos, in a rationalist style, was erected in the place where the Convent of Nuestra Señora de la Coronada had previously stood, from the 16th century.