Úbeda (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈuβeða]) is a municipality of Spain located in the province of Jaén, Andalusia.
The town lies on the southern ridge of the so-called Loma de Úbeda, a table sandwiched in between the Guadalquivir and the Guadalimar river beds.
Both this town and the neighbouring Baeza benefited from extensive patronage in the early 16th century resulting in the construction of a series of Renaissance style palaces and churches, which have been preserved ever since. In 2003, UNESCO declared the historic centres and landmarks of these two towns a World Heritage Site. As of 2017, the municipality has a registered population of 34,733, ranking it as the fourth most populated municipality in the province.
Recent[when?] archaeological findings indicate a pre-Roman settlement at Úbeda, such as argaric and iberic remains. The capital of the iberic state was called Iltiraka and was located over the Guadalquivir river, 10 km south of the actual site of the town. Romans and later Visigoths occupied the site as a settlement.
During the Reconquista, in 1233, King Ferdinand III conquered the city to the Kingdom of Castile. As part of Castille the possession of territories of Úbeda increased substantially, including the area from Torres de Acún (Granada) to Santisteban del Puerto, passing by cities like Albánchez de Úbeda, Huesa and Canena, and, in the middle of the 16th century it also included Cabra del Santo Cristo, Quesada or Torreperogil.
During the 14th and the 15th centuries, the differences between the local nobility and population impaired the growth of the town. In 1368, the city was damaged during the Castilian Civil War between Peter I of Castile and Henry II of Castile. This, combined with other circumstances, caused the worsening of the rivalry between the families de Trapera and de Aranda at first, and the families de la Cueva and de Molina after. This political instability was solved when the Catholic Monarchs ruled: they ordered the Alcázar, used by the nobility as a fortress, was destroyed.
Úbeda, on the border between Granada and Castile-La Mancha, was an important geographic buffer, and thus the population gained from the Castilian kings, a number of official privileges, such as the "Fuero de Cuenca", which organized the population formed by people from Castilla and from León, in order to face the problems that there could be in the borders. Through the "Fuero de Cuenca", a popular Council was formed, which developed a middle-class nobility, which made the high-ranking official hereditary.
During the 16th century, these important Castilian aristocratic families from Úbeda reached top positions in the Spanish Monarchy administration. Notably, Francisco de los Cobos and his nephew Juan Vazquez de Molina became Secretary of State for Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Philip II respectively. The Viceroy of Peru Pedro de Toledo, the governor of the Canary Islands Juan de Rivera y Zambrana, the Marquis of Messia or the Count of Guadiana are other examples of nobiliary families living in Úbeda at the time. Due to the patronage of arts of these competing families, Úbeda became a Renaissance focus in Spain and from there Renaissance architecture spread to the Kingdom of Seville and America.
The Holy Chapel of the Saviour of the World and Vazquez de Molina Palace, today the Council Town, were designed by the architects Diego de Siloé, Berruguete, and Andrés de Vandelvira, among others. This thriving period ended because of the 17th crisis. The last years of the 18th century, the town started to recover its economy, with the help of the agriculture and handmade industries.
In the early 19th century the War of Independence (this war against Napoleon is often called the "Peninsular War" in English) produced huge economic losses again, and the city did not boost until the end of the 19th century, when several technical improvements were applied in agriculture an industry. Ideological discussions took place at the "casinos", places for informal discussions about several items.