Santa Maria´s Square
The Santa Maria´s Square is located in the historic center of Baeza, and at this point, several of the most important monuments of the city converge, such as the Cathedral or the Old University. The heart of the historic center of the city is a corner that does not leave indifferent visitors who enjoy it for the first time and those who already know it. The harmony that is breathed and the quality of the buildings make this square a unique place, a great option to start a tour of Baeza.
Fountain of Santa Maria
In the center of the square, we find the Fountain of Santa María, a beautiful monument that commemorates the arrival of water to the city in 1564. During the 16th century, the population of Baeza grew substantially (about 20,000 inhabitants) and little by little the Council was improving infrastructures. The water supply was achieved under the direction of the Baez architect Ginés Martínez de Aranda, achieving another point of modernity for the town.
The work is, in the words of the architect Fernando Chueca Goitia, one of the most beautiful and original fountains in Andalusia. Its lower body is a Roman triumphal arch with three openings, the central one is semicircular and those on the sides are flat. All this rests on four pairs of columns raised in turn by four pedestals. The entire fountain is rich in detail, but the eight allegorical caryatids on the columns stand out. Also the heraldic ornamentation, with the coats of arms of the city and of the monarch of the time, Felipe II. The upper body, which occupies the central street, is framed by two large corbels and two pairs of Atlanteans flank the coat of arms of Philip II. The work is crowned by a triangular pediment.
High Town Halls
The fountain is the epicenter of Plaza de Santa María, which in turn is surrounded by buildings of great historical and architectural interest. The Cathedral is what most attracts attention, but the High Town Halls also stand out, whose construction dates back to the 15th century and on whose walls you can admire the coats of arms of Juana la Loca and Felipe el Hermoso.
The San Felipe Neri Seminary also deserves a visit, founded in 1660 by the bishop of Jaén Fernando de Andrade y Castro and built by Eufrasio López de Rojas, remaining under the direction of the fathers of the San Felipe Neri Oratory. It stopped working as a seminary in 1969 and is currently the Antonio Machado headquarters of the International University of Andalusia. Its facade is of good masonry but sober, highlighting its main door with a semicircular arch. But without a doubt, the most striking thing about this building is the cheers, the inscriptions in red letters made by former students of the center and with which they intended to cheer themselves up and record their visit to the seminary. The interior has undergone several renovations, the most important being the one carried out at the end of the 20th century to adapt the building to academic needs.
For centuries, Santa Maria´s Square has brought together a part of the civil and religious heritage of Baeza: After visiting the great monuments that accumulate in such a short time, it is best to take a walk through the alleys around the Cathedral, a rosary of old houses with their wonderful gates, always stepping on a paved floor in perfect condition. If you prefer to get away from the city a bit, the Walk of Antonio Machado is the most direct and stimulating route and in a few minutes, you will be enjoying the magnificent views of the Guadalquivir Valley.