|The historic town of Osuna seen from the Colegiata on the hill.|
Text and photography by Fiona Flores Watson
The town of Osuna is often compared to nearby Ecija, since both boast many fine baroque palaces, mansions and churches dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Some scenes from Series 5 of the hit American TV drama series Game of Thrones were filmed here.
In earlier times, the town first came to prominence as the Roman Urso; several bronze tablets from this period are on display in Madrid's Archaeological Museum. Roman remains include the quarry (Las Canteras), theatre and necropolis, north of the town (not open to the public, but visible from the track which continues from the Collegiata), while artefacts from the Islamic period can be found in the Archaeological Museum, in the Torre del Agua (Plaza Mayor), which itself dates from the Moorish era, as well as the remaining walls of the alcazaba (fortress).
When visiting Osuna, it's a good idea to stop first at the tourist office and also town museum on Calle Sevilla (Casa de los Hermanos Arjona y Cubas) and pick up a guide with map detailing the town's main monuments, many of which are built from sandstone quarried just outside the town. These include the magnificent Palacio de Los Cepeda (now the Palace of Justice, calle La Huerta) with its rows of Churrigueresque columns and elegant patio and staircase, and the Palacio de Puente Hermosa which has fabulous twisted pillars at its entrance, encrusted with grapes and vine leaves.
|Plaza Mayor in the sunshine.|
|Historic quarter of Osuna|
Located a short walk north of Plaza Mayor are the Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Plaza Rodriguez Martin) and the Palacio del Cabildo Colegial (calle San Pedro) which bears a sculpted representation of Seville's La Giralda, flanked by two of the city's patron saints - Santa Justa and Santa Rufina.
Several of Osuna's most impressive buildings can be found on a hilltop overlooking the town, which is reached either on foot up a picturesque but steep pedestrian street (calle San Anton), or by car - you can park in Plaza de la Encarnacion or the large square behind the church, Plaza de Luis de Soto Torres.
|La Colegiata de Santa Maria de la Asuncion on the hilltop overlooking Osuna.|
At the very top of the hill is the University, which was founded in 1548. An austere, square building with unadorned facade, decorated by a tower with striking blue and white tiled hexagonal spire on each corner, the university resembles a fortified building such as a castle, more than an academic institution, with this unexpected added aesthetic flourish. It is unusual, and strikingly elegant.
Just below and in front of the university, with a commanding position overlooking the town, is the lavish 16th century Colegiata de Santa Maria de la Asuncion, which contains a wealth of fine art collected by the Duques de Osuna. The terrace along the front of this huge basilica offers superb views over the town - look out for the marked photo panel of all the buildings, which identifies each monument - palaces, churches, convents and monasteries, plus the bullring and the Canteras.
The latter is an archaeogical site, former quarry and auditorium, famous for its sculptures by the prehistoric Turdetani and Tartessian people, which can be seen in the Louvre and the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid, as well as the town's Archaeological Museum in the Torre del Agua. This is also where much of the golden sandstone used for Osuna's buildings has been quarried since pre-Roman times. Today the magnificent natural auditorium is used for special events, and the Canteras opened to the public in 2017. More>
Opposite the Colegiata church, on Plaza de la Encarnacion, is the Convento de la Encarnación, which is a museum of mainly religious art and artefacts and beautiful old tiles.
The bullring was designed by Anibal Gonzalez, architect of Seville's Expo 29 centrepiece Plaza de España, in 1904. A reasonably large bullring for a small provincial town, it seats 6,500, with an arena (circular sandy area) measuring 48m, chapel and simple hospital. It is open to tourists Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 14:00 hrs.
The two top-end places to stay in Osuna are Palacio Marques de Gomera and Hospederia Del Monasterio.
Hotel Palacio Marques de Gomera
A magnificent eighteenth century palace with a stunning baroque facade and grand stone entrance. Good-sized rooms are decorated in traditional style without being stuffy - antique furniture with pretty print fabrics and vaulted ceilings with wooden beams. Located on Calle San Pedro Tel: 954 812 223
Hospederia del Monasterio
Situated between the Colegiata and the Monasterio de la Encarnación, the Hospederia del Monasterio has a beautiful walled terrace with a delightful swimming pool. Guest rooms have original 16th-century stone walls, and the hotel has a number of character full function rooms for private events; eating on the terrace by the pool, with the view of the Colegiata, is a delight.
Osuna offers some great routes for walking, cycling etc ranging from 2.8Km to 21Km. These include Sendero La Gomera, Sendero Necrópolis, Sendero Rio Corbones, Sendero Las Lagunas, Sendero La Calderona and Sendero Ipora-Los Naranjos.
The gastronomy of Osuna is varied and includes traditional dishes such as ardoria (salmorejo), cocido ursaonés (local stew), repapalillas de bacalao (cod) and guiso de tagarninas (spinach stew). All dishes are elaborated with the excellent local olive oil. Sweet treats include many of the pastries made by the nuns of the Convents, not forgetting the famous polvorones, made traditionally for Christmas.
Crafts still produced in Osuna are ceramics, furniture, glass, ironwork and esparto (fiber used to make objects such as espadrilles).
Game of Thrones FILMED IN OSUNA's BULLRING
HBO filmed a key scene from Series 5 of the hit TV show Game of Thrones in the town, specifically the bullring (which is no longer used for the such events). The spectacular fight scene - with amazing special effects, including dragons - takes place in episode 9, first broadcast in June 2015. More>