Old University of Baeza
Baeza is a university city. It was from the 16th to the 19th century and it is now with the Antonio Machado headquarters of the International University of Andalusia. The original center was created in 1538 by a bull from Pope Paul III. Its primitive location was where the Baeza Museum is currently located. At that time there were barely a dozen universities in Spain. Little by little, the center gained prestige and Baeza was even popularly known as the “Andalusian Salamanca”, since the Castilian city was the seat of the most prestigious university of the time.
This second headquarters was erected in the same place where the hermitage of San León was located, to solve the space problems that existed in the first location. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it will have moments of splendor and greatness together with the other universities of Andalusia: Seville, Granada, and Osuna, but in the 19th century its decline comes, receiving the first announcement of suppression in July 1807 and the definitive one in 1824. After various revivals and changes of ownership, in 1875 it became the College of Humanities, soon to be the Secondary School.
The structure responds to the typical typology of Renaissance palaces: a large courtyard with double arcades with a stairwell covered with a coffered dome. The facade is Mannerist in style and is arranged on three floors. The door has a semicircular arch and is framed by a double Doric pilaster. Above is a medallion representing the Holy Trinity. Flanking the main window and resting on the cornice, you can see the shields of the founder of the university, Pedro Fernández de Córdoba. As Juan Cruz Cruz defines in his work Baeza, historical and monumental, “the building is traditional and pleasant and even solemn with good chairs.”
The courtyard or cloister is formed by a double arcade with semicircular arches on thin Tuscan columns. In front of the entrance door the staircase opens up and under it is the old student prison. Attached to one of the walls of the cloister is a bronze relief that pays homage to Antonio Machado.
The assembly hall is at the end of the patio. With a square floor plan, it has a wooden grandstand and its walls are decorated with valuable paintings of its founders: the clergyman Rodrigo López, San Juan de Ávila, and one of his outstanding disciples Diego Pérez de Valdivia.
This complex is completed with the chapel of San Juan Evangelista, completed at the beginning of the 17th century and consisting of a single nave with a half-barrel vault. The main façade forms a single body with the main building and the founder’s shields can be seen. The main door facing south has a sober and elegant layout with its semicircular arch and Corinthian columns. Inside there is a small chapel dedicated to Fernández de Córdoba and two other Mannerist-style chapels facing each other in the center of the nave. The tower is divided into two bodies, one square and the other octagonal at the top, and the openings for the bells are semicircular arches.
Throughout its history, highly prestigious professors have passed through the University of Baeza, such as the religious and writer Juan de Ávila or the historian Jaime Vicens Vives. But his most illustrious teacher was the poet, Antonio Machado, although it is true that when he arrived in the city, the university was no longer such, a Secondary Education center. Machado taught French from 1912, shortly after his wife Leonor died. Currently, the classroom in which the author of Campos de Castilla worked is a small museum open to the public, with its original furniture and numerous documents of the poet.
*EXHIBITION SPACE Antonio MACHADO EDUCATION IN ITS TIME
Through the Exhibition Space of Antonio Machado and the Education of his Time, the city of Baeza once again pays homage to this universal figure, presenting it with an endearing and innovative perspective. The great Sevillian poet always maintained a very special bond with the city, being a regular at La Robotica gatherings and a member of the Nuevo Casino. Here he also wrote an important part of his work. But, in addition, Baeza has a series of “Machadian places”, spaces linked to the poet such as the house on Gaspar Becerra street, the Hotel Comercio, the pharmacy of Don Adolfo Almazán, the Paseo de las Murallas, the Encina Negra, the Casino de Artesanos, the Plaza de Santa María, the Cathedral and numerous elements and commemorative spaces.
Through this exhibition space, the public approaches different aspects and singularities of the time in which Machado lived, defining historical, social, cultural, or economic issues. The exhibition panels are divided into three fundamental thematic blocks. The first alludes to the Baeza where Machado lived and his way of life here. The second refers to the perhaps less well-known facet of Machado as a teacher, which joins that of a well-known poet. And the third thematic block focuses on the space itself that houses this project, a marvelous Mannerist building that was the seat of the Old University of Baeza, founded in the 16th century. In addition, the space has interactive games and audiovisual elements to learn in a fun way and learn more about Baeza and Antonio Machado.