Palacio de Jabalquinto

Baeza, Jaén, Spain

 Visited 20 October 2008
Like it’s neighbor, Úbeda, Baeza is an Andalusian Renaissance town. Its tourist office provides a map with over 50 attractions, but we’ll focus on just 1 square and 2 ½ buildings: a secular palace, the cathedral (of course), and a convent now in ruins but cleverly displayed.

Lording it over the neighbors

Let’s start with the Palacio de Jabalquinto, perhaps Baeza’s best example of civil architecture, combining a flamboyant Gothic structure with Isabelline decorations on its façade. Inside the Renaissance meets the Baroque in its lovely courtyard.

The palacio was built for Juan Alfonso de Benavides, a relative and favorite of King Fernando (of Fernando and Isabella fame). Benavides was the lord of a nearby town called Jabalquinto. His family was big in Baeza, eventually producing a cardinal. (The Benavides often fought for Baezan supremacy with a rival clan, the Carvajals, until Isabella put a stop to it by tearing down the Alcazar and town walls.)

This late 15th century building probably rose before the Alcazar came down – but it reminded the Carvajals and the rest of the town of the prestige of the Benavides clan.

In our Andalusian travels, we had gotten used to plain front buildings with a bit of decoration around the doors. Not so here: nearly the entire façade explodes in Gothic windows, 8 shields of various family members, and even stalactite pillars suggesting Mudejar embellishment. The Renaissance loggia was added later.

Today this building houses part of the Universidad Internacional de Andalucia which started in 1994. Baeza itself had a university much earlier, one of the few Spanish towns with one as early as the 1500s. Over the ages, it attracted intellectual talent including two of Spain’s greatest poets, St. John of the Cross who wrote his Spiritual Canticle here in the 16th century, and the early 20th century Antonio Machado who taught grammar.

Above is a close-up of some of the intricate masonry. Perhaps we have Adam and Eve with the fig leaf blown over their heads. The facade is thought to be the work of Juan Guas and Enrique Egas.

Inside the Benavides family accessed their living quarters by climbing up this Baroque stairway with lions on each side. (Note Queen Isabella on the right). Could the walls be more ornate or the pillars more simple?

Below is the family’s view of its Renaissance courtyard where the upper and lower galleries seem to match. The family gave the place to Saint Philip Neri Seminary in 1720 with the condition that the family could stay in a room whenever they visited the town.

The government confiscated the place in the 1800s, then gave it back to the church who has since loaned it to the University for 90 years. If you want to see more of the Jabalquinto Palace, we’ve posted another dozen pictures or so of this splended Gothic and Renaissance palacio. Click here to see them.  

Iglesia de Santa Cruz

Across the street from the highly decorated Palacio de Jabalquinto is the much more modest Church of the Holy Cross (Iglesia de Santa Cruz). One of many Romanesque churches built after Fernando III took Baeza from the Moors in 1227, it alone survives. (If this doorway seems a little incongruous it is because it was moved from another church in the 1950s, sort of a facial transplant.) Inside it’s a three-nave basilica. While it looks quite boxy, it does have a semi-circular apse inside, along with several 15th century frescoes which were restored in the 1990s. Parts of the building are very old including an arch reused from Visigoth times (that’s before the Moors invaded in 711 AD.)

Next we visit the Cathedral and Plaza Santa Maria, please join us by clicking here.  


Please join us in the following slide show to give Baeza the viewing it deserves by clicking here.

Baeza, Spain

      Next:  Cathedral

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