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Pamplona: Excursions

Way of Saint James (Tip! )
Here we find one of the most legendary monuments on this culturally and religiously important medieval pilgrim-way: the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, also called Silo de Carlo Magno, in Roncesvalles, Photo. The chapel's origin is uncertain, though it was probably built in 12th century. It is located over a cave in which were buried pilgrims who died on their way. Legendary is as well the nearby Chapel of Santiago. The bell in its tower served as an orientation to pilgrims lost in the snow or persecuted by robbers and beasts.

Puente la Reina Photo is said to be one of Spain's most beautiful villages. Worth seeing are specially its 11th century bridge and its center which is enclosed by walls.

Another fortificated medieval town is Viana. It was declared a princedom by King Charles III, and you can find here the tomb of Cesar Borgia, the legendary supreme commander of Navarra's army. A curiosityare its two town-halls, both built in 17th century. One of them served mainly to watch the bullfights.
The Valleys in the East
The Roncal Valley, Photo, surrounded by several mountain peaks of more than 2000 meters height, and the Salazar Valley, offer opportunities for beautiful excursions from Pamplona.

Let's start in Ochagavia, in Salazar valley, a romantic and very typical village in impressing mountainous landscape. The most interesting monument is its 13th century Romanesque basilika, Nuestra Señora de Musquilda. Your next stop should be in Roncal, with its several manorial houses and the Mausoleum of celebrated opera singer Gayarre. Isaba, Photo and Belagua are both well known for their winter sports installations.

A few kilometers from Yesa there is, built impressively on top of a rock, the Monastery of San Salvador de Leyre, Photo It is of great historical importance, as it was the seat of the archbishop during the time of the pyrrenee kingdom, and at the same time the kings were buried here. Also the monk San Virila lived here in 10th century. Legend tells about him that once when he was meditating, birds started to sing in a most beautiful way, and while he thought to listen to them just for a moment, 300 years passed by. Something similar may happen to you if you listen to the Gregorian Chorals of today's monks, performed daily at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 11 a.m.

Close to Sangüesa Photo with its beautiful Iglesia de Santa Maria la Real Photo you should visit the fantastic medieval castle Castillo de Javier, Photo. Here was born by the way Saint Francisco Javier, who lateron was to work as a missionary in India and Japan, in 1506.

In the area you will find also two most beautiful natural parks, Foz de Lumbier and Foz de Arbayún.
South of Pamplona
Starting point of this excursion is Tafalla, 35 km from Pamplona. Here you may visit the palaces of Marqués de Feria and Conde de Guendulain, as well as the extraordinary Renaissance altar in the church Iglesia de Santa Maria. In Olite, Photo you have to see the perfectly conserved fortress of the kings of Navarra. Also Ujué, a small fortificated town, will put you back into the middle-ages with its narrow streets and its interesting fortificated church, by the way the best conserved in all Navarra. From here you have a great view over all the region.

Tudela, Photo the second largest town of Navarra (behind Pamplona), is located in a very fertile land close to Ebro river, and is crossed by another river, Quelles. Interesting are the cathedral, built during 12th and 13th century, and the town's narrow streets of Moorish style. Close to Tudela there is the natural park of Bardenas Reales with bizzare desertical landscape on an extension of about 400 km2.
Baztan Valley
From the view-point Baztan you can enjoy the wonderful panorama over the entire valley. The most important town is Eliozondo, located at Baztan river, with beautiful manorial houses and some small palaces.
Estella Photo
Estella, a 900 years old town of great historical importance, is located in beautiful landscape and crossed by two rivers. Its delicious trouts and eels gave it a high reputation among gourmets. Mayor attractions, apart of gastronomy, are the Palace of the Kings of Navarra, a rare example of Romanesque civil-architecture, and the curious picture of Nicolás Martinez de Eguia together with 26 of his 30 children, in the church of San Miguel.

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