Its inauguration took place on November 16th, 1504, by the Bishop of Jaen, Don Alonso Suárez de la Fuente del Sauce, and was attended by everyone from the Counts of Bailén; Don Rodrigo Ponce de León and Doña Blanca Sandoval, to the last vassals on a day of celebration and festivity for such an event.
Located in the ancient Castle of Bailén was the ancient parish dedicated to Saint Andrew and Saint Gertrude; and as its successor, the new Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (Church of our Lady of the Incarnation) was built on a new site in the heart of the urban fabric.
We are looking at the local architecture’s most iconic building, built in red sandstone cut into ashlars. Building began in the 15th century, in-keeping with what is known as the Roman Catholic or Elizabethan style, fitting with the distinct trends of the province’s other Gothic churches such as San Ildefonso in Jaén, Santiago in Andújar or La Concepción in Lopera.
Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque come together in this church, declared a Historic Artistic Monument on May 2nd, 1983.
The importance of the solid buttresses is accentuated, with their mixtilinear moulding together with the Tower with its octagonal structure, topped with a tapered ornament on a square body of smaller bells.
Both the north and west façades correspond to what are traditionally called an Ogival style. The main façade predominates with its elegance, being south-facing and marked by the lexicography, structure and visual theatricality of the Baroque period, while also integrating Renaissance and Mannerist elements.
The embedded jambs hold a large, rounded arch, marking the area of this majestic façade. Two pairs of Corinthian columns supported by pedestals once again open up different arches to show the iconographic system of the central tympanum, where the incarnation of the virgin appears accompanied by allegorical figures such as the fortress and justice.
The lower part is adorned with grotesque motifs and plant forms, causing a sensation of relief and chiaroscuro which are characteristic of the Renaissance period.
The diversity of the coats of arms located in this architectural work are particularly noteworthy, as are the six sundials that have been distributed throughout the parish. The basement of this building houses catacombs dating back to the 16th century, an ancient cemetery, and place where it is believed that the grave of the heroine of Bailén, María Bellido, is located.
The inside was home to the ancient main altar or chapel of the Virgin of Zocueca (Patron Saint of Bailén) which, thanks to an enormous financial effort by the local people who managed to get together sixty thousand ‘reales’ (old Spanish coin), to see this wish fulfilled. It was inaugurated on August 5th, 1814, during the festival of the Patron Saint of Bailén.
Some years later it turned to ash, along with the former altarpiece as a result of the Civil War. The altarpiece we can see today was built in sandstone and limestone in 1959.
In addition to being able to admire the Patron Saint, the Virgin of Zocueca, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the sculpture of Saint Dimas from the 17th century which has long been attributed to the school of Alonso Cano.
The Mausoleum with the mortal remains of General Don Francisco Castaños y Aragorri, Duke of Bailén and Marquis of Portugalete have remained in this church since 1963, which is when they were brought to Bailén from the Panteón de Hombres Ilustres (Pantheon of the Illustrious Men) in Madrid.