ÚBEDA, 9km east of Baeza and built on the same escarpment overlooking the valley of the Guadalquivir, looks less promising when you reach it. Don’t be put off by the modern suburbs, though, for hidden away in the old quarter is one of the finest architectural jewels in the whole of Spain, and perhaps even Europe. Follow the signs to the Zona Monumental and you’ll eventually reach the Plaza de Vázquez de Molina, a tremendous Renaissance square and one of the most impressive of its kind on the peninsula. Most of the buildings round the square are the late sixteenth-century work of Andrés de Vandelvira, the architect of Baeza’s cathedral and numerous churches in both towns. One of these buildings, the Palacio de las Cadenas, originally a palace for Felipe II’s secretary, houses Úbeda’s ayuntamiento and features a magnificent facade fronted by monumental lions.

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