Úbeda ('uβeða) is a town in the province of Jaén in Spain's autonomous community of Andalusia. It had about 36,000 inhabitants in 2003. It is best known for its association with the writer Antonio Muñoz Molina and the composer and singer Joaquín Sabina. UNESCO declared its Renaissance monuments a World Heritage Site in a cultural unity with Baeza in 2003.
The city is near the geographic centre of the province of Jaén, and it is the administrative seat of the surrounding Loma de Úbeda comarca. It is one of the region's most important settlements, boasting a regional hospital, university Bachelor's Degree in Education college, distance-learning facilities, local government facilities, social security offices, courts, etc. According to the Caixa yearbook, it is the economic hub of a catchment area with a population of 200,000 inhabitants. Twenty-nine percent of employment is in the service sector, with many people working in commerce and local government administration. People are also very employed in agriculture (with olives the predominant crop), cattle ranching, industry and tourism.
The most outstanding feature is the monumental Vázquez de Molina Square, surrounded with imposing buildings such as the Palacio de las Cadenas (so named for the decorative chains which once hung from the façade).
Also there, the Capilla del Salvador also has a chapel screen by the ironworker Bartolomé de Jaen. The Hospital de Santiago, designed by Vandelvira in the late 16th century, with its square bell towers and graceful Renaissance courtyard, is now the home of the town's Conference Hall. Ubeda has a Parador hotel, housed in a 16th century palace which was the residence of a high-ranking churchman of that period.
One of the main seasonal attractions of the town is the annual music and dance festival which is held in May and June including opera, jazz, flamenco, chamber music, symphony orchestra and dance. Just south east of the town lies the nature park of Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas.
In the Christian period the territory of Úbeda increased a lot, 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.
Úbeda has an important geographic value, what was decisive in this period. As Úbeda was in the border between Granada and Castille, the Castilian kings gave it a lot of adventages, such as the "Fuero de Cuenca", which tried to stablish a population formed by people from Castilla and from León, in order to face the problems that there could be in the border.
The wealth Úbeda got in the 16th century had a lot of reasons, like its good communications, its wide territory, geographic situation, and a very powerful nobility. Because of the "Fuero de Cuenca", a popular Council was formed, which developed to a middle-class nobility, which tried to make th high-ranking official hereditary.
During the 14th and the 15th century, there were many wars and fights among important people who tried to dominate the Council. The social conflicts afected the economy, based mainly in agriculture and livestock farming.
In 1368 the city was devastated because of the civil war between Peter I of Castile and Henry II of Trastámara. This fact, combinated with other circumstances, caused the worsening of the rivalry between the families de Trapera and de Aranda in the first moment, and the families de la Cueva and de Molina after. This produced many problems and fights which solved when the Catholic Kings took part in this problem: they ordered the Alcázar the nobility used as a fortress to be destroyed.
The 16th century was the time when Úbeda was more important, because of its economic development and the increase in its agricultural production. Apart of this, the handmade industry diversified. So, the population of Úbeda also increased greatly (it got 18,000 people, more or less).
The population was divided into three different classes, depending on their richness and power. In this period, the family de los Cobos-de Molina was the most important.
It is also a period in which many important buildings were built, thanks to architects like Siloé, Berruguete and Vandelvira.
A time of prosperity ended with several natural disasters, and in the last years of the 18th century Úbeda tried to recover its economy, with the help of the agriculture and the handmade industry.
In the early nineteenth century the War of Independence (this war against Napoleon is often called the "Peninsular War" in English) produced economic damages again, and Úbeda did not recover 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.