Some historians and geographers from the classical period such as Estrabón, Plinio or Ptolomeo have referred to the Urso Romanized. But before then, Apiano and Diodoro tell the presence of Italian troops installed in this turdetan territory in order to fight against the Carthaginians or Viriato.
However, in Osuna there are human settlements many centuries ago and remains of prehistoric cultures which date back to the first millennium before Christ.
The most well known remains were discovered by Engel and Paris in 1903; The “Bull” and the “Osuna reliefs” talk about an Iberian civilisation in which lived together the best Mediterranean traditions come from East and Greece.
The appearance of Rome meant a radical change in all areas. After the battle of Munda, Urso was the last Pompeian stronghold against the Cesar troops in the civil war in which both sides fought for their hegemony of the Republic. “Urso” was turned into Colonia Genitiva Iulia by César, receiving its own colonial law, which fragments “Osuna bronzes” are exceptional legal documents from that period.
The town was turned into one of the main developed centres of Betica Roman. Some remains of its former splendor are the following: the relics of the Roman Forum, the Roman Theatre or the necropolis.
Hardly any remains of visigothic domination are preserved. The crisis of the Low Roman Empire gave way to barbarian dynasties that divided the enormous Roman territory into smaller kingdoms.
With the arrival of Muslims at the beginning of the 8th century, the panorama will be changed drastically. The administrative and territorial structure of Osuna existing since Constantino times was not modified by the new lords.
At the beginning of the 10th century Ûsuna acquired the status of Cora, becoming independent from Écija and the town lived its splendour times.
It ceased to be a fortified enclave in order to have the appearance of a town. From Islamic period we only preserve some remains of the defensive complex of the town such as the so called Water Tower and the thick walls of the ancient fortress for over two centuries of borders wars.
The urban development can help us to explain the moderation of the remains from that period. In 1240, Fernando III took possession of the town that in the first phase did not entail any significant alteration in the population. After 1264 during the Mudejar rebellion the greatest transformations were produced. The muslisms were expelled from the town and the fortress was taken by the Order of Calatrava, as an important enclave, necessary to defend a sector called “Banda morisca”.
After two centuries of a hard border life, a transcendental issue is produced in 1464. Pedro Girón takes possession of Osuna and turned it into the capital of his noble state which was consolidated to his son Alfonso Téllez Girón, first count of Ureña. The destiny of this town is linked to this family and its appearance will be, in large part, the result of the action of this aristocratic lineage.
In that time, Osuna turned into a court focus. The former Alcazaba (Moorish fortification) was remodeled at the beginning of the 16th century. The medieval parish church of Santa María was replaced by the magnificent Renaissance building of the Colegiata de la Asunción, which was completed with the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the most interesting examples of the 16th century. The counts of Ureña (Juan, Pedro and Juan) hired the best artists of that time who were gathered in Seville. Among the artists directly related to this parish church we can mention Diego de Riaño, Martín Gaínza, Hernando de Esturmio, Roque Balduque, Luis de Morales, Arnao de Vergara, Juan de Zamora, etc.
The entire ornamental ensemble was completed thanks to the donation by Catalina Enríquez de Ribera, consisting of five magnificent paintings by José de Ribera and a carving of Cristo de la Misericordia by Juan de Mesa.
The town’s group of monuments will be complete with the University and the hospital of the Encarnación, both founded by the IV Count of Ureña, father of the First Duke of Osuna. This title was given to the Girón family in 1562 by King Phillip the II. At the same time of this aristocratic rising, the House of Osuna tends to connect to the royal court. Its presence in the locality is less and less usual. The era of foundations, carried out by the work of Juan Téllez Girón, who transformed the religious aspect of the town, seems to be over.
Concurrently with this building process, in the 16th century the town exceed the limits of the old medieval wall and spread outside. In this century, the urban framework is mainly established, and the different religious establishments are set: San Francisco, La Concepción, Santa Clara, San Pedro, el Espíritu Santo and Santa Catalina. This list will be complete in the 17th century with the convent of Jesuits –San Carlos el Real-, la Merced, las Descalzas and the hermitage of the locality’s patron saint, San Arcadio.
In the 17th century and mainly in the 18th, there is a rise of the local aristocracy and big landowners. They will be responsible of the baroque style in the streets of the town, especially in San Pedro, Sevilla and La Huerta streets. There are some examples of palaces and ancient noble houses from the Renaissance, but the large mansions from the 18th are the ones which will set the standards of the Osuna’s civil architecture. The Cepeda, Torres, Govantes, Rosso, Tamayo and others families will try to perpetuate their wealth with decorated stone façades. The Marquis de la Gomera Palace is undoubtedly its main exponent: its façade, with two colonnade blocks, is crowned with the aristocratic badge. The mixtilinear contour of the ledge disappears on the corner of the viewpoint tower. It is the baroque style with a great load of movement.
The religious class also takes part in this ornamental competition. Two of the best examples are the Cilla del Cabildo and the Merced Tower, both buildings designed by the Ruiz Florindo family in the last quarter of the 18th century. The imagination on the façades needs to be highlighted, especially on the Merced Tower. Classic elements are modified with the only limit of the stone’s utility.
Osuna did not profit the development of the sixties of last century. The emigration impeded the construction of factories and the town centre was not modified a lot. The town kept depending on the agricultural sector, which supposed harsh living conditions but allowed us to preserve a patrimony, amassed during centuries and examples of former nobility, so that any art and beauty lover can enjoy it nowadays.