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Plaza del Pópulo / Plaza de los Leones( The…

As with the Plaza de Santa María, Federico García Lorca describes the Plaza del Pópulo or de los Leones in an admired and somber way, lamenting the abandonment in which it is found.


(…) In a serene square, which has an elegant but mutilated and shattered little palace, a graceful altar with rag flowers next to the aristocratic seriousness of a triumphal arch with a warrior’s air, and a fountain with lions blurred in the stone ( …)

The Plaza del Populo was one of the most important squares in Baeza, which housed the main public buildings. In this square there were institutions such as the Old Butchers -current seat of the courts-, the Civil Court and Public Notaries or Pópulo House -current Tourist Office-, the Arch of Villalar, the Puerta de Jaén or the Fuente de los Leones , named for the ornamental elements in the shape of a lion from which the water gushed out and that apparently come from the Ibero-Roman ruins of Cástulo, which today is in question, because for experts in Iberian sculpture its siliceous stone carving and its formal appearance suggest a much more modern chronology.

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«Santísima Trinidad» Institute of Baeza

The “Santísima Trinidad” Institute of Baeza is where Machado takes possession of the French language chair, then called the General and Technical Institute.

The institute belongs to the Lorca itinerary because it was an obligatory meeting point on Martín Domínguez Berrueta’s study trips to Baeza, as evidenced by photographs by the professor of Theory of Arts and Literature at the University of Granada. Leopoldo Urquía, director of the institute with his daughter Paquita, whose sister Lorca dedicates Ciudad Perdida to, also appears in some of them. Thus, the young Lorca visited the Institute on his study trips.

The Institute, which currently belongs to the Andalusian Historical Educational Institutes Network, is located in the former Renaissance headquarters of the old University of Baeza. It still conserves intact the classroom where Machado taught his classes and in which furniture, belongings and documentation related to the life of the Sevillian poet as a teacher are exposed: old desks, teacher’s chair with brazier, wooden coat rack, umbrella …

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Jabalquinto palace

The Jabalquinto Palace belongs to the interesting Lorca itinerary because it was one of the spaces visited by Federico García Lorca in Baeza, as specified by Rafael Laínez Alcalá, Machado’s student at the General and Technical Institute:

“(…) I saw a group of strangers accompanied by the archpriest of the Baezana cathedral (…) who were contemplating the façade of the Seminary, the old palace of Jabalquinto (…) Among the boys (…) Federico García Lorca, whom a few years later I would meet in Madrid. (…) “

At that time, the Palace belonged to the Seminary of San Felipe Neri, where future priests were trained. It is currently the headquarters of the International University of Andalusia (UNIA), an institution to support the Andalusian science and technology system in postgraduate training, research, knowledge transfer, digitization, permanent training and internationalization. In homage to Antonio Machado, the UNIA headquarters in Baeza bears his name. The UNIA is based in two buildings: the Old Conciliar Seminary, a baroque building located in the Plaza de Santa María, opposite the Cathedral and the Renaissance Jabalquinto Palace, a benchmark of the Renaissance civil architecture of Baeza, with an impressive main façade with Elizabethan Gothic decoration, beautiful windows and prominent diamond points.

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Old artisan Casino

Undoubtedly, one of the places with the greatest literary impact in Lorca’s life. This is where his encounter with Machado occurred, when he was still more a musician than a writer. This event would mark his artistic orientation towards letters and will make him one of the most universal poets in our literature.

On June 8, 1916, a soiree was organized, in which Machado recited verses by Rubén Darío – who had died months before – and fragments of La Tierra de Alvargonzález for the travelers, while Lorca played Andalusian pieces on the piano such as the Danza de la Vida Breve of Falla. In this recital he met María del Reposo Urquía, who also performs some pieces.

Antonio Chicharro, in the collaboration that he makes in the book tribute to the centenary of Machado’s arrival in Baeza One Hundred Years of the Antonio Machado y Baeza Encounter or the Celebration of Poetry as an Essential Word in Time, indicates that this meeting also meant the beginning of a respectful friendship between Antonio Machado and the young García Lorca, underlined in a poem signed in 1918 by the young student from Granada in the first pages of a book borrowed from the first edition of Poesías Completas de Antonio Machado:

I would leave my

whole soul in this book.

This book that has seen

the landscapes with me

and lived holy hours.

The echoes of this meeting were also to materialize in the first poem he wrote, according to his brother Francisco García Lorca, dated June 1917: Song. Dreaming and Confusion, in a prominent Rubenian style.

Song. Daydreaming and Confusion


Here comes the dusky soundless night

here comes the brazen, splendid flesh

here comes the sweet ecstasy bliss

But alas! death came and sorrow followed.(…)

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Cathedral, Square and Fountain of Santa María

The space that makes up the Cathedral of Baeza, the square and the fountain of Santa María are main elements in Federico García Lorca’s description of the city in Lost City (“Ciudad Perdida”).

Plaza de Santa María is the one that contains part of the main buildings of interest such as the Cathedral itself, the Palace of Jabalquinto or the old Town Hall.


This square, an impressive romantic expression where antiquity displays its ancestry of melancholy, a place of retreat, of peace, of manly sadness, was planned to be desecrated when I visited Baeza.


Besides, Santa María fountain, which takes the name of the square and which, together with the fountain of the Lions in the Plaza del Pópulo, is the most emblematic of Baeza. Built in the Renaissance style by the middle of the 16th century, it has a lower body made up of three openings, together with a columnar structure with two fronts, where the coat of arms of Felipe II can be seen.


At its center a source of pagan severity, it looks like the final body of a triumphal arch that the earth has swallowed up.


Finally, the Cathedral of Baeza, an Asset of Cultural Interest since 1931 and which has been erected over successive buildings: a Roman temple, later a mosque, until its conversion to Christian worship in the 13th century.

Since then, it has undergone numerous architectural transformations to its current state, with multiple elements from different periods, such as the Moon Gate (Puerta de la Luna), in the Gothic-Mudejar style; the Absolution Gate (Puerta del Perdón), in the Gothic style; or the main facade, which is in the Renaissance style, which is its most dominant character. Andrés de Vandelvira collaborated in the Renaissance reform.

The interior of the Cathedral of Baeza also presents different styles, with Gothic pillars, ribbed vaults, Renaissance grills, Mudejar chapels and Renaissance chapels, as well as the main altarpiece, in the Baroque style. The Cathedral Museum also preserves pieces of great value and recognized prestige


I Baeza


The cathedral covers the square with its shadow, and scents it with its smell of incense and wax that seeps through its walls as a reminder of holiness.


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Jaén´s landscape

The encounter with the landscape of Jaén and its people surprised the young Lorca, accustomed to the flat fertility of the gardens and plains of Granada. Undoubtedly, this landscape clearly influenced him during his long peri-urban walks along the Cerro del Alcázar, on the remains of the old wall. A place that Machado also frequented assiduously.

The display offered by the skyline of “blue mountains, in which the towns shine their diamond whiteness of faded light”, in clear reference to the Aznaitín and Mágina massifs, will leave a mark on his work, as explained below:


I Baeza

(…) If you walk further, the grasslands are so strong that they swallow up the stones on the ground, anxiously licking the walls …, and if we cross a few more alleys, we can contemplate the majestic symphony of a splendid landscape. An immense basin surrounded by blue mountains, in which the towns shine their diamond whiteness of faded light. Shady and brave chords of olive groves contrast with the sierras, which are deep purple on the skirts. (…)

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Carrera de Jesús street house

On his trip to Jaén, Federico García Lorca stayed at the house of Don Manuel Montero Sola on Carrera de Jesús Street. The building consists of three floors with a lateral façade of exposed stone, while on the main façade there are two central balconies flanked by two viewpoints with bars and a noble coat of arms on one side. The Aqueduct of Carmen was in its back gardens.

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Aqueduct of Carmen and path of the Orchards

On November 2, 1925, García Lorca dated a postcard with the image of the Aqueduct of Carmen and the Senda de los Huertos, very close to the address he uses as his residence, on Carrera de Jesús Street. In this postcard, addressed to his friend Melchor Fernández Almagro, who lived in Madrid, he recommends his visit to Jaén: “I’m sure you would find the character of this landscape magnificent.”

Senda de los Huertos was one of the city’s scenic heritages until it was urbanized, in the years sixties of the 20th century. This area, steeped in history (Roman and Muslim remains have been found), constituted a landscape of orchards distributed in terraces and terraced gardens of the courtyards of the houses upon which the towers of the Cathedral magnificently stood out, and conferred to the Path its hallmark. Next to these orchards was the ancient Aqueduct of Carmen, of Roman origin, with sixteen semicircular arches built in stone and brick that supported the canal. The Aqueduct was eliminated by demolition in 1976 and nothing of it is preserved today.

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Plaza de Santa María (Cathedral of Jaén)

The above is not the only postcard in which Lorca refers to Jaén. In a postcard dated in Granada on November 7, 1925, once he had returned from his trip to Jaén and also addressed to his friend Melchor Fernández Almagro, the poet makes reference to various places and icons from Granada. Lorca exchanges the texts on the postcard with his friends and in it he reviews such identifying landmarks of Jaén as the Cathedral, the Plaza de Santa María or the relics of the Holy Face. Below is part of the text of the aforementioned postcard:


“Mac Donald continues his downhill slope of Grenadian disappointments. On the other hand, he has discovered the beauty of Jaén in pleasant company, with its graceful cathedral, open by hundreds of balconies to the streets and the square, crowned with apostles and prophets and guardian of the Holy Face, which we adore most solemnly. You can make the trip to kiss the glass where the Byzantine face of Christ emerges, oily and full of sweet intimacy among the old emeralds and rubies of the old Catholic frame. Wrapped, moreover, in the silky anointing of the liturgy. Granada no longer exists. Granada is possession, Jaén is unity.

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La Magdalena church

On November 24, 1925, Federico García Lorca dated another collective postcard, from a second trip of the poet after the one that occurred at the beginning of November and showing his interest in the city, which left him a pleasant memory. In this new visit, where Lorca acted as Guide, he was accompanied by José Segura Soriano, Alfonso García Valdecasas, Miguel Pizarro Zambrano and Adelina Bello.

From this brave city where I came by car, your friends hug you and greet you. I look forward to your letter. Tell me what you think of the gentleman Paquito. Goodbye. Frederick. This new postcard has the image of the old Arab minaret of the Church of the Magdalena (a primitive mosque in the city, converted to church after the Christian conquest), located in the neighborhood of the same name.

Link with Juan Eslava Galán