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Museum of San Juan de la Cruz

The Museum of Saint John of the Cross, is the only existing one in the world dedicated to his figure, it was inaugurated in 1978 in the premises of the convent of San Miguel de los Carmelitas Descalzos, where the mystical poet went to get cured of the “fever” :

(…) “I received here in La Peñuela the batch of letters that the servant brought me. I am very careful. Tomorrow I am going to Úbeda to heal from some fever, for which, (as there have been more than eight days that they give me every day and they do not cease) it seems that I will need medical help “(…).

This Carmelite convent was founded in 1587, under the invocation of San Miguel, patron of the city, as a result of the impulse that the Order of Carmel will receive from the hands of Saint Teresa of Jesus. Saint John of the Cross remains here from September 28 until his death in a poor cell at midnight between December 13 and 14, 1591.

In 1627, an Oratory was attached to the convent to house the tomb of Saint John of the Cross, being the first temple in the Catholic world built in his honor. It is thought that the Oratory is located in the same space as the cell where the Saint died, and there is an inscription on the façade that recalls this fact.

The Saint John of the Cross Museum is made up of various rooms, where the old Conventual Sacristy stands out, with various relics of the Saint, such as two fingers of his right hand and which are one of the main attractions of the Oratory. In other rooms, other spaces and objects that were related to the Saint are shown (iconography, the cell where he died, writings, etc.). The Museum has also been enriched with a notable library specialized in Saint John and spirituality issues.

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Monument to San Juan de la Cruz

The monument to Saint John of the Cross stands very close to the museum, in the Plaza Primero de Mayo (First of May Square).

A monument in the form of a sculpture, made of polished white marble and limestone, which is the work and donation of the Malaga native sculptor Francisco Palma Burgos.

It was inaugurated on November 24, 1959, and in that year various events were held in honor of the Saint.

The monument, in perfect harmony with the square and the Church of San Pablo, was not the original idea. There was another more ambitious project, whose model you will be able to contemplate. But that is something you have yet to discover.

Puente Ariza (Ariza Bridge)

The Ariza Bridge, projected by the illustrious architect Andrés de Vandelvira, under the direction of works by the stonemason Antón Sánchez, from Úbeda and financed by the Bishop of Jaén, Don Diego de los Cobos de Molina, was built on the Guadalimar river and has great importance important because it was the main communication route between Úbeda and La Peñuela (La Carolina), so it was an obligatory passage from Saint John of the Cross to access the city where he went to “get cured of fever.”

The bridge, remarkable in itself because it is a masterpiece of Vandelvira´s civil engineering, for the treatment of the ashlars, the size of the main arch and its fit in the landscape, has a length of 99.5 meters and has been declared Cultural Heritage, in the category of Monuments, on February 4, 1993.

Since 1998 it has not been passable, as a consequence of the Giribaile Swamp coming into operation, being partially submerged under the waters and emerging in periods of drought.

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Sacred Chapel of El Salvador

La Sacra Capilla de El Salvador del Mundo is an extraordinary funeral pantheon ordered to be built by one of the most important figures of the time, Francisco de los Cobos, personal secretary of Emperor Carlos V.

The pantheon has an important link with the Carmelite reformer because the last and solemn information leading to the beatification of Saint John of the Cross , the greatest and most enlightened of our mystics, was held here. The event occurred on September 6, 1674 by Pope Clement X, although the Decree was not issued until January 25, 1675.

The temple itself is one of the most successful examples of the Spanish Renaissance, where the most illustrious virtuosos of the time worked: Diego de Siloé as the author of the general designs of the temple; the incomparable Andrés de Vandelvira as master builder; Berruguete, author of the altarpiece of the main altar; Esteban Jamete, sculptor of the facade and the sacristy; or Francisco de Villalpando, author of the bars.

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Street San Juan de la Cruz

Úbeda pays homage to the Saint with a street named after him. This street, which was previously called Calle del Toril, is located at the confluence of Calle Carmen and right next to the Museo Oratorio de Saint John of the Cross, precisely where the mystical poet died, so the choice of the name of the street could not be more accurate.

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House of the Méndez

You can find it in the historic center of the city, in the Plaza de López Almagro. Casa de los Méndez takes on special importance for the literary route of Saint John of the Cross in Úbeda because this is where his relics were venerated before being taken to the Collegiate Church of Santa María de los Reales Alcázares.

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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.