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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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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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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.