Routes - Navarre   
   

CENTRAL AREA
The Central Area – is neither the mountainous North nor the Ribera, or Ebro Valley, in the South. It is the result of bringing these contrasts together, of a quarrel between two opposing brothers who finally make their peace. The woods of the North disappear and are replaced by farmland and vineyards, the mountains soften out and are surrounded by plains and the arid areas are interspersed with thickets and scattered woodland.
      

To start this route, leave Pamplona by the N111 Estella – Logroño road and continue along it until you reach Puente la Reina. There, take the NA 6030 road to Tafalla and you will come across Mendigorría and the ruins of Andelos, the remains of a Roman villa with its story to tell. If you continue along this same route, you will come to Artajona with its massive fortified enclave known as the Cerco de Artajona and the start of the Dolmen Route.

   
Now, continue towards Tafalla, the capital of the Central Area, and take the N121 to the medieval town of Olite, an obligatory visit. The local NA 5300 road then takes you to San Martín de Unx where you can observe the house façades with their coats of arms, the remains of the city walls and other emblematic buildings. The bareness and simplicity of the church of San Martín will attract your attention, with its two portals and crypt (accessed by a spiral stairway).

It is well worth visiting the Gothic Church-Fortress of Santa María del Pópolo and the hermitage of San Miguel. You can then take the more than tortuous NA 5310 road to Ujué, a town which is closer to legend than to reality. Narrow, paved streets, impossible corners, spectacular views...

  
If you suddenly want to be brought back to the 21C , you should visit the Wind Farm at Guerinda, one of the largest in Europe. What would Don Quijote have to say! The most advanced wind turbines, reaching a height equivalent to an eighteen floor building, merge into a spectacular view of the Pyrenees. Navarre is the third European power with regard to the production of this renewable energy, after Germany and Denmark, and this windfarm is proof of it. To reach it, you should return to the San Martín de Unx road and go towards Lerga and then turn off towards Olleta.
   

Artajona
If you want to become completely immersed in the Middle Ages, this is a good opportunity to do so. The fortified enclave, or Cerco de Artajona, was constructed in the 11C, and its walls flanked by twelve perfectly square towers can take you back in time. They give a stately air to the walls crowned by the fortress-church of San Saturnino, with its imposing, stout architecture, built in the 13C on the ruins of a Romanesque temple. The church façade reveals a beautifully carved Gothic tympanum, showing images of San Saturnino together with Queen Juana of Navarre and her spouse, Felipe the Beautiful. The actual structure of the church denotes that it was built in times of war. It preserves a sentry walk over the vault of the nave, which was used as a dungeon. In its interior, the Gothic altarpiece is a primitive Renaissance painting. There are also two Baroque altarpieces and various panel paintings.

However, if you would rather go back in time still further, you now have the opportunity to travel back almost to our origins, along the Dolmen route. To reach the Dolmens, you must go to the Cemetery and take the road behind the churchyard. From there you will come to the dolmen of Portillo de Enériz and the one of Mina de Farangortea, the remains of the Roman megalithic culture.

Both are separated by stone slabs and are located in tumuli, 20m in diameter and 2.5m high. You can also go as far back as the first millennium before Christ with the remains of the neolithic huts of Farangortea and Dorre.

The Gothic church of San Pedro also deserves a mention, with its Flemish triptych of the Epiphany and the semi-circular dome.


    

   
On the outskirts of the town there is the basilica of the Virgen de Jerusalén.
Inside you will find a 30 cm high Romanesque metal carving made from enamelled copper which, according to legend, was brought by a person from Artajona from the Crusades in the Holy Land.

You can also take the opportunity to enjoy a walk through the streets of Artajona and observe the houses with their attics, coats of arms and arcades.

   

Olite
Visiting Olite is like returning to the past. The Middle Ages are present in its streets, palaces and corners. The Castle, unmoved, dominates the town, watching over the inhabitants. Olite, once a Royal city, has also many famous vineyards and good quality wines.

The Castle – Palace of Olite is one of the most representative and most loved monuments in Navarre. It was built on Roman walls, and construction began during the 13th and 14 centuries, although it was during the 15C, under the orders of Carlos III of Navarre that the work really developed. They were the years of splendour. Its decline began when Navarre joined the Crown of Castile, and there were no longer any kings of Navarre to reside there. Two fires and an act of plundering left it unrecognisable. It was made a national monument in 1925, and has recently been restored. The old palace is today a state Parador  and it still preserves some towers such as the tower of San Jorge, Las Cigüeñas (storks) and the Prison Tower. The new castle, with its fifteen completely different towers cannot help but attract your attention. The most important towers are the Torre del Homenaje, Atalaya, Tres Coronas and Cuatro Vientos and the circular watchtower. There is no doubt that it was a luxurious castle: with delicate plasterwork, tiles, polychromatic stained glass windows, golden marquetry ceilings and fountains. Amongst the curious outbuildings at the palace (lion cage, dovecote, baths (in those times!), we would point out a peculiar type of refrigerator: a stone egg-shaped construction used to store ice.

At Olite, there is also the Gothic church of Santa María, with some beautiful cloisters, a lovely portal and the retable above the high altar was painted by Pedro de Aponte. The Church of San Pedro is another work of art. It is a harmonious mixture of different styles: a Gothic tower with an impressive octagonal spire and Romanesque portal and cloisters. Inside there is a beautiful retable and the chapel of the Virgen of Campanal holds a precious Gothic sculpture. We cannot forget to mention the convents of San Francisco and the Clarisas, both with Rococo retables, whilst, in the Carlos III Square there is the Clock Tower and some medieval underground galleries.

   

Ujué
Ujué appears to be the result of an artist’s delirium, in a desire to create an imaginary, fairy-tale village: its narrow streets, sliding down the slopes of the hill, full of ramps and stairways, its houses, each forgotten corner,.. will all take your breath away. And, if you still haven’t had enough, take a look in any direction from Ujué and you won’t be disappointed. Down below, you will see the piedmont of Tafalla and Olite, the Ribera, the Moncayo and the Pyrenees, with peaks such as the Anie or the Mesa de los Tres Reyes.

visit Ujué, we would advise you to leave your vehicle at the entrance to the village or in the sanctuary square, since cars cannot go into the town centre.

  
Ujué developed as a fortified town to defend Navarre first against the Muslims and later against Aragon. The Romanesque church of Santa María is located at the highest point of the village. Its size and simplicity are overwhelming. It was built on the remains of a pre-Romanesque church in the 11 and 12C, but it was king Carlos II the Bad who undertook the majority of its construction. He built the Gothic nave, a beautiful sentry corridor and small turrets. Its interior houses the beautiful image of Santa María with Child, a wonderful example of Romanesque sculpture in Navarre, silver plated and dating from the 12C. Carlos II so loved this place that, before his death, he requested that his heart be laid to rest here. And it is preserved in a chest in this church still today.

Ujué is the scene of one of the most emotive Romería processions or pilgrimage in Navarre. It is held on the Sunday following the 25th April, day of San Marcos, and it is in honour of the Virgin Mary. Pilgrims wear tunics, bear crosses, and some even go barefoot and with chains. They meet by the Saludo Cross and from there, go to the sanctuary to pray to the Virgin.

One word of advice: don’t leave Ujué without first trying the famous sugar-coated almonds, Migas de Pastor or shepherd’s breadcrumbs and lamb chops cooked on a vine wood grill.
   

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