An Andalusian Experience

Osuna

A Noble Town in Seville
Osuna’s architectural jewels attract visitors to the rolling countryside of the Seville Campiña.

Traveling the roads of the Seville Campiña, the sweeping farm country extending east from the Andalusian capital, every town and village you come to has a story to tell, written in its old stone buildings, towers and churches, but few have such a rich and curious tale as Osuna.

The impressive monuments crowning the hill which overlooks this farming town hint at its past, when Osuna was the capital of a vast county whose lords rivalled the Spanish king himself in power and wealth. Osuna’s fortunes started to rise in the mid-15th century, when the town was lorded over by Alfonso Tellez-Giron, the first Count of Ureña. The dynasty’s influence increased, and in 1562 King Phillip the Second granted the fifth count the title of Duke of Osuna.

The family were profligate builders, endowing Osuna with a dozen convents (four of which still function as such), renaissance palaces and, the crowning achievements, Osuna’s Collegiate and University. But the party couldn’t last forever: in the 19th century the 12th Duke of Osuna, notorious for his extravagance and free-spending ways, managed to squander within a single life-time the wealth accumulated by his ancestors over generations.

Yet Osuna’s monuments remain as testimony of better times. The most skilled craftsmen from Seville were hired to build the Collegiate (full title Colegiata de Santa Maria de la Asuncion) in the mid-16th century. This imposing cathedral-like edifice contains some of the finest examples of the work of Jose Ribera, Il Spagnoletto, commissioned by the third Duke of Osuna. Even more intriguing, there is an entire miniature cathedral underneath the Colegiata, as well as the pantheon containing the remains of the illustrious Osuna line.

Next to the Collegiate, the spired University was founded in 1548, and functioned as a college up to 1824. Today, its hallowed halls once again welcome students, for it has been incorporated as branch of the University of Seville. Completing the monumental trio on the hill overlooking the town is the Convent of La Encarnacion, famous both for its fine tile work and for the sweet pastries the nuns make for sale to visitors.

CONTACTS
Oficina de Turismo (tourist office) -  www.seneca-web.com/osuna/osuna.htm

Nearest airport: Seville (50 miles, 85 km)

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Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet  - A Freelance Spain production

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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet