Cordoba Province - Lucena

Lucena is renowned for its furniture factories and outlets
Lucena is renowned for its furniture factories and outlets

Although Lucena appears to be entirely comprised of furniture factories and outlets, the old town hosts many exquisite churches reflecting its importance in the Subbetica of Baroque times.

The present day courthouse, the Palacio de los Condes was an eighteenth century palace, and has a striking marble entrance, two interior courtyards and impressive plasterwork.

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One of the most important churches in the town is San Agustin, a seventeenth century convent founded by the Madres Agustinas. Its most notable feature is its oval layout and dome, one of the few designed this way in Andalucia. Its altarpiece is by Francisco Jose Guerrer.

Lucena's main church is that of San Mateo, a Gothic-Renaissance work from the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Renaissance altarpiece is by Jeronimo Hernandez and Juan Bautista Vazquez the Elder. But it's the Capilla del Sagrario which is the most important part of the church, ranking with the Sagrario de la Asuncion in Priego as one of the high points of Andalusian baroque. It was built between 1740 and 1772 and boasts a stunning entrance of encrusted marble. Laid out in an octagon, it has a central shrine and exquisitely painted plasterwork.

Other landmarks are the Palacio de los Condes de Hust in the old Jewish Quarter, and the Iglesia y Hospital de San Juan de Dios boasting a splendid marble entrance and typically Baroque altarpiece and plasterwork. Worth a visit too is the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Araceli, a hermitage whose chapel is considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque art in the province. Also the Castillo del Moral, or former prison of Boabdil- the tourism office is there now- and the sixteenth century Parroquia de Santiago built on the site of the former synagogue.

The monuments all vary in their opening hours, so a visit to the Tourist Office essential. It's situated in the Castillo del Moral, Tel: 957 5132 82.