|Holy Chapel of El Salvador|
So, how did Úbeda get to where it is today? Its history follows the general trend of the rest of the country: Iberian peoples >> Romans >> Visigoths >> Moors >> Castilians. The hills the town occupies have been inhabited since Neolithic times, and there was a small Roman town to the south called Colonia Salaria, also known as Úbeda la Vieja or “Old Úbeda.”
The city didn’t really get started until 852 CE, when the Moorish caliph Abd-al-Rahman II ordered the fortification of Madinat Ubbadat al-Arab, “The City of Úbeda of the Arabs.” Where the name Úbeda comes from is still rather unclear, seemingly deriving from such mythical characters and ancient place-names as Ibiut, Idubeda, or Bétula.
|Archives, town hall|
|Plaza Vázquez de Molina|
Spanish architect Andrés de Vandelvira was the main man responsible for designing a large part of the monumental works in Úbeda and elsewhere in the province. Without him, it’s hard to say whether the Italian Renaissance would have ever come to southern Spain! By the 21st century, Úbeda’s outstanding architecture had been recognized by UNESCO, which named it and neighboring Baeza as a World Heritage Site in 2003.
|Hospital de Santiago|
Pottery (alfarería) is also an ubetense specialty. Three of the six Spanish kilns leftover from Muslim times have their home here, and few different guys who go by the nickname “Tito” are famous for their craftsmanship. A distinct green glaze—unique to Úbeda—covers plates, jugs, and cups; the glazes’s warm green color comes from copper added to it, and the gleaming dark blue alternative derives from cobalt. You can find shops selling these beautiful ceramics near the town hall, the Holy Chapel of El Salvador, and in the potter’s district, the Barrio de San Millán, to the northeast of the old town.
Úbeda became my adopted pueblo, a term used by Spaniards to describe their ancestral hometowns that they return to, summer after summer, despite having moved away to one of the big cities. In true Spanish form, I’m moving this fall to the big city of Santiago de Compostela—the almost 100,000-strong capital of the Galicia region—but Úbeda will always be home, the place where I grew up in my knowledge of Spanish culture, whose accent I embraced, whose thousand-year-old streets now hold one year of my life in their memories.
|Calle Almadén, where I lived|
Blogging note: This isn’t all I have to say about my beloved Úbeda! I’ve got a gigantic guided tour post in the works as well as one on how to spend 48 hours eating your way through town. So get excited, ‘cause it’s Úbeda Week on the blog!
Have you ever adopted a second hometown after living abroad or moving across the country? I want to hear about it below in the comments section!
For more pictures, check out my set on Flickr here.