Routes - Navarre   
   

LAND OF ESTELLA
T
he area of Estella is the symbol of historic localities, exquisite wines and the harmony of the Urbasa and Andía Sierras, with one peculiarity: both Sierras are common property that is, any one from Navarre can use them free of charge and, on request, will receive his/her lot of firewood.
Leave by the N111 Logroño road going through the mountain pass of El Perdón, with its windmills.

  
Pass through Puente La Reina to reach Estella, and go round it until you reach a crossroads where you will turn to the town centre, Vitoria and San Sebastián.
Leaving Estella take the NA 120 road to San Sebastian via Etxarri-Aranaz and, at Abárzuza, take a road which, 4 kilometres along, takes you to the Monastery of Irantzu.
   
The monastery lies in the middle of a beautiful gorge carved by the river, although it is Benedictine in origin, in the 12C it became important with the Cistercians. Today you can admire its church with three naves and ribbed vaults, the gothic cloisters, the chapter house and kitchen.
   
On the return journey, just after passing Abárzuza, take a small unsigned road on the right which will leave you in 10 kilometres on the road to Olazagutía.

Be careful to take the turning to Baquedano, where at the top of the village you should take a track which after half a kilometre will leave you in an open field. 

There you can go on foot along an incredible track, lasting 45 minutes, to the source of the river Urederra: cascades and spectacular pot holes, rocky slopes and woods with a mixture of trees (beeches, ashes, limes, maples, hazlenuts and holly oaks) surround the water that the limestone karst of Urbasa absorbed and now frees.
The water is striking not just for its beauty (Urederra means precious water in the Basque language) but also because it is ice cold!

   
You should then head to Estella, a beautiful historic city which is well worth a visit. The same is true for Puente la Reina.
After leaving Puente, take the turning to Obanos and the charming hermitage of Santa María de Eunate, with an octagonal floor plan and an evocative framed porch.
We would advise you to return to the road from Puente or go via Muruzabal and Uterga to the N111.
   

The Hermitage of Eunate
Eunate is a beautiful hermitage, offering the simplicity and charm of its octagonal floor plan and a precious arched gallery or exterior cloisters.

The surroundings are flat and calm, covered with grain fields and vineyards. Eunate is part of a legend. The fact is there is confusion over its origin. Although it appears that it was constructed by noblemen of Valdizarbe after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, it is said that it pertained to the Templars or that it was a church-lighthouse, with a constantly shining light to guide pilgrims at nightfall.

Located right on the Way to St James, Eunate has been a place to welcome and give shelter to pilgrims and even many, exhausted, were buried there.

This temple is a 13C Romanesque whim. Its portal, apse and chapters show defiant and mysterious faces and monstrous wild animals. In its peculiar octagonal structure you can discover the symbols of the principal stone masons of the time. Moreover, you should not miss the details of the marvellous arched gallery and its varied capitals.

Eunate means one hundred doors in the Basque language (eun-ate) and well born in Latin (eu-nato). Whatever its meaning, if you go through the doors of the hermitage you will find that it is very nice inside with quadrangular ribbed vaults evoking Arabian architecture.

There is a pilgrimage to Eunate to ask for prosperity, water and the eradication of plagues. Apart from that, many other people visit for esoteric reasons, since Eunate has been attributed with this power.

Obanos is located very close to Eunate. It is a beautiful locality, the headquarters in the 12C of the Order of the Infanzones, noblemen who fought possible abuses committed by the kings. Every summer, the inhabitants of Obanos perform the play of the Mystery of Obanos. An act recounting the tragedy of San Guillén and Santa Felicia, a young duke from Aquitaine who could not bear to think of his noble sister dedicating her life to caring for the poor, and so killed her. Repentant, the duke retired to the nearby hermitage of Arnotegui. It is a very careful performance set in the historic square of Obanos.

   
Estella: The city of the River Ega
Estella is overflowing with history. Every nook, building or church of this historic town is full of art.

Estella was constructed in 1090 by King Sancho Ramírez on the Basque village of Lizarra, in order to give assistance to the pilgrims. Thus the former Lizarra marked the start of an important development on the very road to St James. 

The Franks arrived and, amongst the inhabitants, a great number or Jews settled, making Estella an important Jewish centre. Its key geographical position, at a point where the Mountains joined the Ribera, or Ebro valley, made it an important trading centre.

In the 19C, Estella, the bastion of the Carlist doctrine, was named capital of the Carlist State and even had ministers and its own penal code.

   
As you must inevitably select which works of art to see, you could start with the square of San Martín. Here the Palace of the Kings of Navarre, constructed in the 12C and the sole example of lay Romanesque construction in Navarre, is today the Gustavo de Maeztu Museum.

The 18C Regional Courts are located next to the flight of steps. If you go up them, you will see the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, a Cistercian 12C building with a beautiful portal and Romanesque cloisters.

In the street Calle de la Rúa there is a plateresque palace of Fray Diego de Estella (today a Community Centre), the Palace of the Governor and the simple Bridge of the Prison or San Agustín.

The Gothic church of the Santo Sepulcro (Holy Sepulchre), the gothic convent of Santo Domingo and the Romanesque church of Santa María Jus del Castillo, also await you.

And there are still other marvellous places such as the church of San Martín, the plaza de los Fueros square and the square of Santiago, where an important craft market is held every Thursday: ceramics, material, ironwork, hides, wood...

A mention should be made of the church of San Juan, the Convent of Recoletas, the 20C Basilica of the Virgen del Puy, the convent of Santa Clara and the church of Our Lady of Rocamador.

With regard to the cuisine, you can enjoy roast suckling pig and three denominations of origin: Idiazábal cheese, red peppers from Lodosa and wines registered in the Rioja Denomination of Origin. Many of these Bodegas are open to visitors.

   
Puente La Reina - Garés
“And from here all the roads to Santiago (St James) become one”. This is the sign on the Pilgrim’s Monument welcoming you. And this is quite true: At Puente la Reina the route crossing the Pyrenees via Somport joins with the one coming from Valcarlos.

Puente la Reina owes its name to a magnificent Romanesque stone bridge, built before the town. The story goes that it was commissioned by a queen; others claim that the original word was not Regina, but Runa, the old name for the river Arga.
This beautiful bridge was constructed in the first half of the 11C to enable pilgrims to cross the river.
 Today, it boasts six semi-circular arches of different widths, and one more underground.

This beautiful bridge was constructed in the first half of the 11C to enable pilgrims to cross the river. Today, it boasts six semi-circular arches of different widths, and one more underground.Some small arches carved into the stone enable the water to pass through when the river is high. 

   
The bridge is adorned by the lovely legend of el Txori, a little bird that washed the face of the Virgin with water from the river, carried in its beak.

Puente la Reina, a vital crossroads soon became financially and culturally rich. Evidence of this is the late Romanesque church of the Crucifijo (crucifix) constructed by the templars in the middle of the 12C, housing the 12C Virgin with Child and a beautiful y-shaped gothic crucifix, brought from Germany.

The street Calle Mayor is both street and art: popular architecture with emblazoned houses, palaces, craft shops...

The church of Santiago el Mayor, built at the end of the 12C and reconstructed during the 15C, shows its Roman portal and the gothic carvings of San Bartolomé and Santiago Beltza, so called due to the fact that it was black in colour before being restored.

After passing through the charming Plaza Mayor, close to the bridge there is the church of San Pedro and the convent of Comendadoras de Sancti Spiritus.

With regard to cuisine, you will be offered white or red beans, roast pork or lamb and, in the hunting season, quail, hare or partridge and excellent wines from Valdizarbe, the rosé wine in particular.

   

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