In Pictures: Just Passing Through the Best-preserved Renaissance Towns of Ubeda and Baeza in Andalucia

184-something miles (or 296 kilometers) to the next campinground at Ossa de Montiel. But first, we’ve gotta a couple of quick stops at what has been described as the most well-preserved Renaissance towns in the whole of Spain–Ubeda and Baeza. This is definitely one of those beautiful places and UNESCO world-heritage sites in Andalucia, if not the whole of Spain, that you would need days to visit and really appreciate all that it has to offer, not an hour like we did. Oh, well! Let’s leave some for later. Here it is anyway, in pictures.

A road trip across teh province of Jaen gives soul-nourishing views of what looks like neverending fields of foodcrops on the plains and olive trees on the hills. What do you think they call Jaen–the olive capital of Spain?

From the desert-like cave houses of Guadix that look like Arizona–where primitive songs of the outcasts, traditionally the gypsies of Spain, might have flourished, we sluggishly move through northeast Spain, passing through fields of foodcrops and groves upon seemingly ceaseless groves of olive trees.

Today, day 11 and on the 6th leg of our fourth family camping road trip across Europe, from Spain to Poland, we finally leave our beloved Andalucia. That’s right! After 11 days on the road, we are still in Andalucia. We’ve gone from the land of sherry, flamenco and dancing horses, to the coast of Tarifa, and through the Alpujarras. This has definitely been one of the best relaxing Andalucia road trip that our slow-go family has ever done.

The whole square of Plaza del PĆ³pulo in Baeza is a historical landmark. An old building on the left (not on picture) was used the old “carnecieria” (meat or butcher shops). Now, the tourist office is there. Check out the well-preserved La Puerta de JaĆ©n and the Arco de Villalar that are still standing after over 500 years. The fountain of the lions is somewhat damaged and now resembles sheeps.
The Cathedral of Baeza sits on yet another UNESCO world-heritage site in Plaza de Santa Maria. Everything on this quiet square is aesthetically pleasing. . . if you are into art and architecture, that is! The construction of the church started in the medieval ages, but architecturally it has mulstiple styles. There is also a museum and a lookout tower available for tourist visits–of course, for a fee. There is also a museum and a lookout tower available for paid tourist visits of course. In my humble opinion, 6 euros per person for the visit is a bit much. Churches should be FREE for ALL! If you don’t wanna pay, just attend mass, admire the church from your fixed position, be respectful of the ceremony and wait till the end before you walk around.
Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist. The exterior charm of this building would have been enough to impress a visitor… if only it was not one of so many architectural beauties in this UNESCO world-heritage town of Baeza and nearby Ubeda. However, the inner courtyard of this chapel is where you can get some pea ce and quiet while simultaneously wonder of the beauty of its structure. So, the outside is not as impressive as the inner sanctum.
Our son reads with the bronzified tribute to Antonio Machado at a bench in front of the 15th-century Palace of Sanchez Valenzuela, that is currently a higher-end restaurant called Nuevo Casino. . . Machado–a poet and writer–apparently composed the best of his work in the seven years that he lived here after the death of his wife and taught at the Old University of Baeza. The town has a fiesta/festivity on or around the 22nd of February dedicated to this Andalusian literary figure with poetry readings and more. He died in exile in 1939; another victim of the Spanish Civil War.

“Ya hay un espaƱol que quiere

vivir y a vivir empieza,

entre una EspaƱa que muere

y otra EspaƱa que bosteza.

EspaƱolito que vienes

al mundo, te guarde Dios.

Una de las dos EspaƱas

ha de helarte el corazĆ³n.”

Antonio Machado’s “EspaƱolito

“There is already a Spaniard who wants

to live and to live begins,

between a Spain that dies

and another Spain that yawns.

Spaniard who comes

to the world, God save you.

One of the two Spains

your heart must freeze.”

Google Translation of “EspaƱolito
Fuente de Santa MarĆ­a (Fountain of Saint Mary) sits between the Antonio Machado Library of the International University of Andalucia and the Baeza Cathedral. Likely the most photographed and characteristic fountain symbolic of Baeza that is best visited in the light and quiet of the night.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo–one of the many churches that is emblematic of the Renaissance town of Ubeda–sits on a quiet plaza near the city hall and the exquisitely preserved palace–Palacio Vela de los Cobos.
Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

UNFILTERED NOTES on the road to Baeza and Ubeda

There’s a story there somewhere. Inspired by the desert-like rockmountains of Arizona… or maybe even Kyrgyzstan, as we were leaving Guadix, the boys and I came up with a story of Coco/Bobo, Poco and a cool cat named Loco. “Auf viedersien!,” to our German-Spanish one-time cave-house friend named Emilio and his mother Maria.

Onwards and northwards towards Ubeda and Baeza, we passed villages of Torre-Cardela, Darro and Moreda with pretty landscapes and seemingly endless fields of food crops, with what looked like different crops in each plot (olives, wheat, foodstuff), instead of monoculture, make for an eyecatching view, with backdrop of the mountains. . . through the town of Jodar–the gateway or puerta to the Sierra MĆ”gina.

From the desertlands of Guadix to the Renaissance towns of Ubeda and Baeza, the lone, northbound, two-lane road are flanked by seemingly ceaseless fields of food crops. . . until you get to the hills and the sierras covered with (equally) seemingly endless groves of olives.

Past the pueblo of Torre-Cardela and Guadahortuna come the vast olive groves on collinas… on the hills of the Sierra MĆ”gina in front of you. Lots and lots of them. On both sides of the road. Up and down and all over to the other side of the sierra, or so it seemed. It’s the Andlaucian province of olives after all–Jaen!

Olive trees seemed to not care much what type of soil they are in… white (blonde), brown, red… it’s all good. They’d grow.

This is “a very pleasant drive,” my wife says. (We were on A-401 La Carolina-Guadix 2-lane both ways motorway between Guadix and Ubeda).

Past Ubeda, on A-32, was not a pretty drive anymore, in terms of the quality of the road… Road expansion work everywhere here. More truck traffic in the near future. Still, it was quite a scenic drive.

The entire length of the drive are olive groves in all directions, certainly between Jodar, past Ubeda, between La Sierra de Segura and Sierra de Andujar and the little sierranitas inbetween… past the hilltop town of Iznatoraf.

I wonder did they raze the old mountain trees and replaced them with these neatly laid out olive groves?

Hmmmmm… must be good camping amidst the olive groves. Camping under or inbetween olive trees could be a viable alternative or additional income for some smallscale olive farmers, esecially if situated near a swimmable body of water.

Then, por fin!, we cross the Andalusian border with the province of Castilla La Mancha–you know, the dusty land of Don Quixote?!?!?. We’ve finally left our adopted motherland, about 70 km or 1 hour to destination.

“I’m sad. I know the people of Andalucia. Now I feel lonely,” Karol says.

“I’m not sad,” says Kaj. “I’ve four tetas and I’m too fat. I can’t even squeeze into this.”

And we all laughed like lunatics on this desolate mountain road.

Then we turned left onto Caretera de Montana (CM 3127) heading into the eastern part of Sierra Andujar. Now the hills have lost the olive trees.

Down the sierra and olive groves are back on both sides of the strangely straight road.

Past the olive groves on colinas (hills) in the sleepy village of Albaladejo. There are more contrasting colourfields here of red, brown, greens and gold.

The crumbling castle on the hill at Montiel greets the weary traveller, along with the 4 people on the street.

ANot much farther to go, past Villahermosa and Ossa de Montiel (on CR-640).

At some point along the tail end of this drive the fields turned into private hunting grounds (coto privado de caza). For what, I don’t rightly know.

Then lots of greens, other trees and more foodcrops as we get closer to Ossa deMontiel. What’s in the name anyway?

Then west towards the unexpected gems of cluster of little lakes–Lagunas de Ruidera, arriving at 18:35 to pitch tent, once again, after about 6 hours on the road.

On our 4th family camping road trip in Europe, we spend a week camping in the mountains of Las Alpujarras–both in the sunnysouthside of the Sierra Nevada and on the otherside in the desertlands and caves of Granada. We begin our trip in Orgiva, near Pampaneira, visiting the white villages of Capileira, Bubion, Pampaneira, Yegen and Trevelez before heading to the caves of Guadix.

what to do in Granada Province

Here are some of the must-do/must-see things in Granada, othern than visiting Granada–the city itself–and all its majestic places to visit. That’s a separate post altogether.

Check out this video of FREE things you can do with kids in the Sierra Nevada. . . in the snow!

Hoya de la Mora in the Sierra Nevada–The southernmost part of Europe, where you can ski or sled or do your snowy things down a mountain and swim in the Mediterranean sea within one hour of each other.

With over 300 days of strong Andalusian sunshine here in southern Spain, you would not think that there would be snow. Think again!

The Sierra Nevada, about a one-hour drive from the city of Granada, boasts the southernmost point of Europe where you can ski, sled and snowboard as late as early May. 

You can literally hit the snow slopes all morning and swim in the Mediterranean in the afternoon.

A mesmerizing tapestry of colors and quilt-like patterns adorn the streets of Pampaneira and. . . HEY!. . . they work quite well in giving some relief from the scorching Andalucian summer sun.

You can visit Pampaneira along with the other white villages of Capileira and Bubion in a day. For us, slow-go family travelers (with KIDS!), it would be too much.

In this sunny south side of the Sierra Nevada–the artist-trap mountains of Granada–we’d like to especially take it easy. . . you know, like Sunday mornings.

Next Stop: Jewel Lakeside Camping Los Batanes at Ossa de Montiel

Onwards, upwards. . . . to Andorra! Here’s the first half of our family camping road trip. . . number FOUR! 1,617-something kilometers from Jerez de la Frontera, detour to Bolonia, then Setenil de las Bodegas, the white villages of the Alpujarras, the caves of Guadix, Baeza, Ubeda, Ossa de Montiel, the hanging houses of Cuenca, Lake Caspe and finally the little country of Andorra. . . at least for the first half of this trip!

First half of free electrons family camping road trip number 4, from Jerez de la Frontera to Andorra la Vella.

Last Stops: Cave Living in Granada

What’s it like living in a cave in the mountain desert land of Granada in Andalucia, Spain? Check it out, in pictures!

That’s it! Explore more places to see. Click on the links and let us know about it.

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