Populo square / Lions square
A fountain with four lions that spew water from their mouths gives this square its name, at least one of its names, because this enclave of Baeza is also known as the Plaza del Pópulo. In addition to the fountain, here is the old butcher’s shop, today a judicial building, the Villalar arch and the Jaén gate, linked with the Casa del Pópulo, a Plateresque building that houses the Tourist Office. The square was completely reorganized in the sixties, the date on which some of the urban elements were relocated. Prior to this new layout, what was known as the Plaza Baja was an extension of the Plaza del Mercado or Paseo. Next to this space was the Plaza del Pescado, with the city’s Bodegones, where wine, fish and meat were sold.
Fountain of the Lions
Fountain of the Lions But it is impossible to enter this square and not look at this picturesque fountain, with its aforementioned lions with curly manes that take care of the figure of Imilce, an Iberian princess, wife of the Carthaginian general Hannibal, a native of Cástulo, ancient city near Linares. It is believed that the statue that crowns the work of the Lions comes from that now disappeared city, and that the entire fountain was moved to Baeza in the fifteenth century. The truth is that there is no evidence that this story is true, in fact, there are historians who describe it as implausible because the lines of the statue and the fountain do not match that time. But the charm of a city is also nourished by its legends and this is one worth listening to, if possible, told by a guide. What is documented is that the sculpture lost its head during the Civil War and was restored by Gálvez Mata, a sculptor from Baez. The building located on the south side of the square is the Civil Court and Public Notaries or, directly, the Casa del Pópulo. The name is due to the fact that in the past a canvas of the Virgen del Pópulo hung from one of its balconies. This is one more example of Baeza’s Renaissance architecture and is currently occupied by the local Tourist Office, therefore, it is an unavoidable visit also for practical reasons. The building corresponds to the Plateresque and dates from the first half of the 16th century, although it was restored in the 20th due to its deterioration. On the façade, its large shields stand out, the imperial and the city, among other details and ornaments. In the Plaza de los Leones you also have to stop at the Antigua Carnicería, another 16th-century construction that was used to store and sell meat. Here you can also see a large imperial coat of arms on the façade, a very present element in Baez ornamentation. A double-headed eagle with two crowns protects the emblem, a symbol that was imported from German heraldry and that began to be seen after the arrival to the throne of Carlos I.
Puerta de Jaén
Puerta de Jaén and Villalar arch From this square you can also see the Puerta de Jaén, which belonged to the medieval wall that Isabel la Católica ordered to destroy in 1476. The reason was the clashes between families, which took place in the streets of Baeza, served as a final excuse for Queen Isabel to disable the wall. The gate was already rebuilt during the reign of Carlos I. Adjacent to the Puerta de Jaén is the Villalar Arch, built in 1521 to commemorate the victory of Emperor Carlos I over the Comuneros in the town of Villalar (Valladolid). In Baeza, where there were also communal disputes, the Carvajales family, loyal to the king, had this arch built to celebrate the military triumph.