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Old town hall houses

Former seat of the Town Hall, it is a magnificent example of Renaissance civil architecture. In the gallery on the upper floor there are two niches, one with the image of San Miguel Arcángel, patron of the city, and the other with Saint John of the Cross. Today it houses the “María de Molina” Conservatory of Music.

In this place the restitution of the body of Saint John of the Cross to Úbeda was unsuccessfully managed. His mortal remains were secretly stolen two years after his death, at midnight, before the city noticed the theft and he was taken to Segovia.

Although the stealth operation was observed by a neighbor on the street, the bricklayer Salvador Quesada, fearing the consequences, he did not give notice until the following day.

It is also interesting to know that Cervantes lived for a time in Úbeda, so he must have been aware of the facts, since he immortalized it in chapter XIX of the first part of Don Quixote, where the famous nobleman begins one of his adventures against “a camisade of twenty ”, who carry a coffin to Segovia, and they indicate that they are coming from Úbeda.

In any case, the city of Úbeda did not resign to the looting and filed a lawsuit with Segovia. The petition for the return of the venerated body of the Saint to Pope Clement VIII was approved in February 1596, in the old town council houses, issuing his Brief Apostolic “Expositum nobis fuit” in which the rights of Úbeda and orders the restitution of the corpse to where he was first buried are recognized.

As is known, Segovia did not return the body and Úbeda, after the long and controversial lawsuit, in 1607 managed to recover part of the relics of the Carmelite reformer, a finger and a tibia, which are in the Museum of Saint John of the Cross.

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House of Surgeon Ambrosio de Villarreal

Ambrosio de Villarreal, a licensed surgeon, belonged to a family in Ubeda, the cradle of great and famous doctors.

He is very important in the Saint John itinerary because he was the one who attended Saint John of the Cross when he fell ill and arrived at the Carmelite convent of Ubeda, certifying his death.

The surgeon’s house was located on Las Parras street, which mixes the houses with white facades with the splendid 16th century palatial architecture, so the street is full of historical landmarks that are of great interest to the visitor, so we recommend a leisurely visit.

Among its palatial architecture, the House of the Inquisition (still existing), the Episcopal or Corona Jail and the Hospital de Santa Marina stand out, as well as the largest architectural sample on the street, the Palacio de los Porceles, a Mannerist work from the 16th century.

Colegiata de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares (Collegiate Church of Santa María de los Reales Alcázares)

The Collegiate Church of Santa María de los Reales Alcázares, a National Monument and part of the World Heritage Site and recently declared a Minor Basilica, is the main church in Úbeda.

Its connection with Saint John of the Cross is given because it is in the Collegiate Church where the relics of Saint John of the Cross were guarded and venerated, from the exclaustration of the Discalced Carmelites in 1836 until their return in 1905.

This temple has undergone numerous transformations throughout its history so it does not have a single defined architectural unit, but perhaps that makes it more attractive.

The church has a Gothic base and is built over a mosque. At the same time, it encompasses very varied architectural styles: Mudejar, Gothic, Renaissance, Neo-Gothic Baroque …

Without a doubt, you will have to visit it and discover all the treasures it holds.

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Collegiate Church of Santa María de los Reales Alcázares

La Colegiata de Santa María de los Reales Alcázares es Monumento Nacional y parte del conjunto Patrimonio de la Humanidad y recientemente declarada Basílica Menor, es la principal iglesia de Úbeda.

Su vinculación con San Juan de la Cruz viene dada porque en la Colegiata se custodiaron y veneraron las reliquias de San Juan de la Cruz desde la exclaustración de los Carmelitas Descalzos en 1836 hasta su regreso en 1905.

Este templo ha experimentado numerosas transformaciones a lo largo de su historia por lo que no tiene una única unidad arquitectónica definida, pero quizás eso la hace más atractiva.

La iglesia es de base gótica y está construida sobre una mezquita. A su vez, engloba estilos arquitectónicos muy variados: mudéjar, gótico, renacentista, barroco neogótico…

Sin duda, tendrás que visitarla y descubrir todos los tesoros que encierra.

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Convent of the Immaculate Conception Discalced Carmelites

This Carmelite convent was founded in March 1595, with its first Prioress being the Reverend Mother Ana de la Encarnación, companion of Saint Teresa of Jesus.

The lack of ornamentation prevails in the convent, in accordance with the austerity that reflects the spirit of the Order, but in the interior rooms there is a valuable permanent exhibition called “The Treasures of the Closing”, which has an important pictorial collection, with the primitive portrait of Saint John of the Cross, painted by Fray Juan de las Miserias, stands out.

It also holds other important and interesting collections of sculptures, reliquaries, ornaments, etc.

Today the Discalced Carmelite Sisters continue to inhabit the convent, and are famous for their pastry work, especially for the exquisite anise rolls sold all around the convent.

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Monastery of Santa Teresa de Jesús

The Baroque-style Santa Teresa de Jesús Monastery was founded on a house-palace in 1615 (the construction of the temple began in 1673), after several unsuccessful attempts to found it in the capital of Granada.

It is a very austere Carmelite-style temple with a very simple composition, which actually gives it great beauty. In addition to the architecture itself, the monastery holds important treasures inside, altarpieces, sculptures or paintings, and, most importantly, an authentic bibliographic treasure: the manuscript of the Spiritual Canticle of Saint John of the Cross, also called the Codex of Jaén.

The Codex of Jaén is not a Saint John autograph manuscript, but it is a direct copy of the writing of the mystical poet, arriving at the monastery of the capital of Granada through Ana de Jesús who gives it to Mother Isabel de la Encarnación. She always carries it with her until it is sent to the new foundation in Jaén, where the manuscript has remained ever since. The manuscript, therefore, has been in the monastery since its foundation and has been kept since the beginning of the 20th century in a silver case in the form of a finely carved box and this, in turn, protected by an oak box.

The Codex of Jaén is a true literary relic, being the most important of all those found in the convents of this province, and one of the most valuable in the entire Carmelite world, as it has an exclusive stanza, Stanza XI.

Stanza XI
(…) If on that thy silvered surface

Thou wouldst of a sudden form the eyes desired Which I

bear outlined in my inmost parts!

Spiritual Canticle. Saint John of the Cross

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Church of Santa María la Mayor

The parochial temple of Santa María known as “la Mayor”, speaks of its preeminence over the other parish churches of the city.

The church is one of the most precious jewels of the Andujar heritage and remarkable for the wealth in form of movable property that it treasures, as we can highlight the presence of an authentic Greco, the Prayer in the orchard, in the altarpiece of the Main Chapel or the San Juan autograph of Sayings of Light and Love in the chapel and altar of Cristo de la Paciencia, which make it one of the most significant temples in the province of Jaén.

Although it is not clear how the Andújar manuscript or codex arrived in the city, it is known that it belonged to a noble family of Andújar (the Piédrolas) from immemorial times, probably as a token of gratitude for favors to the Discalced Carmelites.

But the most important thing is that the manuscript is a fundamental piece since, in addition to being a jewel of incalculable value in itself, has been used to contrast whether or not other manuscripts are in the handwriting of Saint John of the Cross.

The original manuscript, bound in parchment and adorned with golden embroidery, was permanently exhibited in the chapel and altar of Cristo de la Paciencia, so it was deteriorating and presented various alterations, therefore it had to be restored at the National Restoration Center of Books and Documents, dependent on the General Directorate of Artistic and Cultural Heritage.

Once the restoration work was finished, the original was kept in the Santa María La Mayor Church safely and with all technical conditions necessary for its conservation, while the Andújar codex exposed in the chapel and altar of Cristo de la Paciencia is a facsimile with great fidelity to the original San Juan.

Finally, it should be noted that the Santa María La Mayor Church was built on an old mosque, in the second half of the 15th century in Gothic style, presenting a serene spatial unity in its interior and great quality in its manufacture.