Here is also where there was once, if not the most famous, at least one of the most famous post houses in Spain. A continuous hustle and bustle of carriages would pass through here given that this was an essential route along the Camino Real towards the Kingdom’s Capital, providing Bailén with what we could call ‘Stagecoach’ tourism.
Nowadays it is called Plaza General Castaños in honour of the General who defeated the Napoleonic troops, Francisco Javier Castaños y Aragorri – first Duke of Bailén. It is popularly known as El Paseo; a name which refers to those evenings where the young people of Bailén used to walk through the square expecting to find their first love.
In the mid-19th century it was reformed, to install a sculpture of the Roman Goddess Iberia, known as ‘La Matrona’ (The Matron) and identified by everyone as Maria Bellido; the heroine of Bailén. She was a courageous woman who, along with the town of Bailén, brought water to the Spanish army when a French bullet fractured the flagon of water as she was offering it to General Reding.
In 1862, Queen Isabel II made a journey through Andalusia and Murcia to discover the needs of the region first-hand. She reached Bailén on October 6th of that same year. As she left, bidding the town of Bailén farewell and showing her immense admiration and appreciation, her majesty made several donations. These included what was said to be a sculpture to represent victorious Spain coming from the Buen Retiro gardens and that we can now see in this square. Until the mid-1970s the square was used to hold civic and religious events during the Commemorative festival of the Battle of Bailén.
Nowadays, it continues to be used as a meeting point for an afternoon or evening of leisure, and a stage for concerts of local music bands.