O Izaba lies to the north of the Pyrenean valley of Roncal, being the northernmost locality of the seven villages that compose it, at the foot of the valley of Belagua; surrounded by rugged mountains; bathed by the waters of the river Esca that is born from the union, in the place, of the rivers Uztárroz, Belagua and Belabarce; in the border with the province of Huesca and France. In its municipal district is the highest peak in Navarra, the Mesa de los Tres Reyes (Table of the Three Kings). It is said that formerly when the kings of Navarra, Aragon and France met to negotiate and reach some agreement, they did so at this summit because none of them left their kingdom in this way, since it is located right on the border between the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Navarra and France.
Numerous megalithic remains and dolmens such as Sakulo and Arrako have been found in the area, so it can be deduced that the origins of the first pastoral settlements date back to the Neolithic period. It is assumed that the Roncal Valley had communal administrative autonomy even before the ninth century and that in the eleventh century had places and towns with mayor. In the 14th century the towns of Isaba, Uztarroz, Urzainqui, Roncal, Garde, Vidángoz and Burgui already formed the Roncal Valley, which was governed by the General Assembly that was in charge of resolving and administering livestock and agricultural interests. In 1427 a fire destroyed the town of Isaba and with it the historical and Junta archives that were kept in the church, but the signs and ceremonies that have survived in the traditions of the people corroborate in some way their supposed history, the coat of arms, the right bardenaje, the Tribute of the Three Cows ...
The houses of Isaba, grouped in the neighbourhoods of Barrikata, Izarjentea, Burgiberria, Bormapea, Garagardoia and Mendigatxa, form a beautiful and typical group of stone and wood constructions that, in narrow cobbled streets, are separated from each other by narrow recartes or regachos, standing out among them, in the centre of the village, the majestic church-fortress of San Cipriano from the 16th century; It is believed that the stones used to build it come from an old castle located in the upper part of the village. The town hall dates from the second half of the 19th century. Near the church, a typical Roncal house houses the Museum-House of Memory in which the customs and traditions of the Valley are collected. In the fountain Uturrotx appears carved the history of the place with its two coats of arms. In Cipriano Barace square, a sculpture of the shepherd marks the beginning and end of the Cañada Real de los Roncaleses (Royal Cañada of the Roncales); this canyon, where the cattle pass, joins the Roncal Valley with the Bardenas Reales, in the south of Navarra, where a milestone gives shape to the monument to the shepherd.
In a beautiful spot and surrounded by a beautiful garden about a kilometre from Isaba, which can be reached on foot, is located the basilica of Our Lady of Idoia, is from the sixteenth century, next to the church is the House of the Brotherhood or the hermit. It is believed that the origin of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Idoia is as old as the sanctuary itself. In Isaba on the outskirts you can also see the hermitage of Belén, which is a small chapel from the 18th century. Somewhat further away, about ten kilometres from Isaba and next to a prehistoric monument where ancient pagan rites could be carried out and in order to Christianise the place, the Arrako hermitage was erected, from which it is not known in what century it was built. The chapel houses an image of the Virgin from the 14th century and was looted in 1793 by the French. Furthermore, in Isaba, if the visitor is lucky enough that it is a day of cinematic session, he will be able to enjoy, for sure, an entertaining film in the last existing village cinema of the whole Navarrese Pyrenees.
Isaba celebrates Santiago on July 25 and San Ciprián on September 16. The village of Isaba celebrates a pilgrimage to the Arrako hermitage on 26 July, Saint Anne's day, and on Pentecost Monday the pilgrimage is to the basilica of the Virgin of Idoia. In addition, on the first Sunday in July the day of the Idoias is celebrated in which the people with that name pay homage to their Virgin.
The Carnival of Isaba is a festive act of which the oral tradition has kept a good memory, it is not known since when it was celebrated but it has been recovered almost all its characters among which the Amanditzarko stands out, character of the XIX century that represents everything evil and that hanging of the city council, waits to be burned in the bonfire at the end of the day and as colophon of the celebration.
Leaving Isaba towards Belagua there are two Romanesque bridges, one a little more than a kilometre from Isaba and the other a little more. They are located on the so-called Camino Real (Royal Road) that has linked the Roncal and Baretous valleys for centuries. A little further up, about two kilometres away, also in the direction of the port of Belagua, is the Otsindundua bridge, built in 1568, known as the bridge of Ibón as it crosses the river Esca, facilitating access to the Ibón cave located a short distance from the road and into which one can penetrate up to a large hall.
In Isaba the church has a balcony called conjuratorio. It receives this name because when the people suffered some problem, a prolonged drought, plagues, epidemics, storms or any other spell or weigh, the clergyman would come to this balcony to make a spell that would annul the forces of evil.
Isaba can be reached from Ezcároz and Ochagavía via the NA-140 which joins the N-135 shortly before reaching Roncesvalles. Or from Sigües on the A-21 between Pamplona and Jaca going up the Roncal Valley on the NA-137 through Burgui, Roncal and Urzainqui.
Isaba has a bus service that runs the Pamplona-Uztárroz-Pamplona route from Monday to Saturday.
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