It is situated on the south-western bank of the Ebro, on a flat land irrigated by the Huecha river, and forms part of the Tudela merindad on the border with Aragon. It is known of settlements from the late Bronze Age, Cortes being, according to scholars, the most complete settlement of the Spanish Iron Age and whose study is more advanced. In fact, the archaeological site of Alto de la Cruz de Cortes, which was discovered by chance in 1947, is a point of reference among historians of Prehistory. The Romans also left their mark. From the Muslim era and its importance in the place throughout the Middle Ages, there remains some Adarve or dead end.
The documented history of Cortes begins when Alfonso I the Battler reconquers it at the beginning of the year 1.119 and years later it is ceded to Rotrou de Alperche, being for this time, Cortes, a walled place. In the 13th century it formed part of the estate of Toda Rodríguez, who ceded the castle and the town of Cortes to King D. Teobaldo I in exchange for other lands, with Cortes becoming a royal villa. In the 15th century Carlos III donated the town, its castle, and all that this entailed to his son Godofre and instituted the county of Cortes. John II of Aragon took it from him and granted it to his natural son Alonso de Aragón, Duke of Villahermosa, to whom he belonged for a long time. In the 17th century Felipe IV granted the town of Cortes the use of the Bardenas Reales. In a town like Cortes, where agriculture has always been important, the opening of the canal of Lodosa has been the decisive turning point for the rise of the municipality.
The old quarter of Cortes revolves around the castle and the parish church of San Juan. In its urban framework there is a Muslim chink, blind alleys or adarves and you can see a house bearing the coat of arms of Casa Gaviria, built at the beginning in the eighteenth century, of which the façade still has the rococo coat of arms of the Gaviria family between its balconies. The parish church of San Juan Bautista was built in the 16th century in the place occupied by the previous church, most probably Romanesque, dedicated to San Miguel, and where in the year 1333 took place the matrimonial capitulations between Doña Juana, heiress of the kingdom of Navarre and Pedro IV el Ceremonioso, heir of the kingdom of Aragón. Inside the temple you can admire true works of art including the carving of the Virgin, of Flemish origin in the fifteenth century, which was donated by Queen Doña Blanca of Navarre in 1433.
On the Cruz hill, two kilometres or so from Cortes, is one of the most important archaeological sites for prehistoric study. It was inhabited from the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. The castle of Cortes, in the urban centre of the town, has been a faithful witness of the historical evolution of the place and its people, its origins are very old, perhaps from the Muslim era, although the first writings about it date from 1.128 when Alfonso I the Battler, after reconquering the town, cedes it next to the castle to Count Rotrón de Alperche. Due to its border situation with Aragon, it became one of the main medieval fortresses of the kingdom of Navarre and was also the temporary residence of several Navarrese kings. When it passed into the hands of different lineages of noble lords, they changed, with their reforms and adaptations, from a military fortress to a residential and stately palace. Its rooms have been the setting for royal weddings and institutional events.
Declared an Asset of Cultural Tourist Interest since 1993, the castle has a complex structure, with a built area of 4,538 square meters, the parade ground is the center around which is distributed the rectangular walled complex, the stately home on the west side and a prismatic tower crowned by battlements and matacanes in the southeast corner, in the back is, converted into a municipal park, what was once the castle's garden. When visiting the castle of Cortes de Navarra, you can enjoy the important collection of oil paintings from different periods, schools and painters ranging from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Visits to the castle are guided and by appointment, and with the exception of some dates and the months of July and August, they take place on the last Sunday of the month at 12 noon. The telephone number for reservations and information is 676 381 563.
Cortes celebrates its patron saint fiestas in honour of San Miguel on 29 September and on 24 June it celebrates San Juan, these are the festivities small.
In Cortes since the end of the 19th century, the beautiful tradition of paloteado persists, which is celebrated on 29 September and is a clear example of folklore that combines theatrical representations with dances performed by paloteadores, men and women, and which consists of two dances of tapes and two of palos, whose origin can be traced back to the agrarian celebrations in the open air, as this type of dances are present in several and diverse places. Among the theatrical representations are: la pastorada, which is a dialogue in verse, whose origin is possibly related to medieval theater. The entremés, with a comic dialogue. The car of Saint Michael the Archangel, in his fight and victory over the devil. The sayings, where the most relevant events that took place in Cortes during the course of the year are satirized. The Paloteado de Cortes has been recognised as an Asset of Cultural Interest as an Intangible Asset since the end of 2.014.
The Alto de la Cruz archaeological site is also known as the hamlet of Cortes de Navarra, having its origin in the 9th century BC and being a magnificent example of survival from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Cerro de la Cruz is a superposition of different settlements. Six prehistoric settlements, which had different endings, one of them was destroyed by fire, in which they are seen as the oldest huts of the late Bronze Age are round and give way to the rectangular ones of the Iron Age. Little can be seen of the archaeological site in situ, since the excavations are covered to protect them from the inclemency but the fact of walking through it and enjoying its incredible views can make our imagination go back to that time of our ancestors.
Legend has it that Victoria was a girl who lived in the castle and whose bad behavior exasperated her parents so much that they inflicted a cruel punishment, they cut off her feet. After many years, toys and things that bore her name have still been found. Who says she is not using them in her many apparitions around the castle?
As far as Cortes we arrive following the N-232 or the AP-68 that link Logroño and Zaragoza, as the town is just a step away from these communication routes, just on the border between Navarre and Aragon. Cortes is also reached by several local roads that connect it with the nearby towns of Mallén, Buñuel, among others.
Cortes has a bus service that connects it with Pamplona, Tudela... For further information, the telephone number is 948 820 342.
The Cortes train station is located to the south of the town centre. Railway services are medium distance and link Cortes with Zaragoza, Castejón, Logroño and Pamplona. The telephone number for further information is 917 744 040.
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