It is located in the middle of Navarre, in Valdizarbe or Ilzarbe Valley, a valley under the stars. At the end of the 11th century, references to Obanos appear in old documents of San Juan de la Peña. We know from Obanos that it was a town of royal lordship. The Monastery of Leire since the 11th century, the Monastery of Iratxe since the 12th century and the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem since the 13th century owned land in Obanos.
The town became famous during the Middle Ages because it became a banner in the fight against the abuse of the Monarchy, as it was the seat of the Junta de los Infanzones, a group made up of nobles, clergy, merchants..., which became a defender of the rights of the population and of Navarre against the excesses of the monarchs. On the town's coat of arms you can see the motto used by the infanzones "Pro Libertate Gens Libera State". After the conquest of Navarre by Ferdinand the Catholic (1512), it remained a town within the region of Valdizarbe. Until the municipal reforms of 1835-1845, it was governed by a mayor, who appointed the viceroy at the proposal of the people. And, since those reforms, it was a town hall with a common regime.
In Obanos there are two squares, the Plaza de los Fueros and the Plaza de San Guillermo, around which its urbanism is organised. Its streets and houses have a marked medieval atmosphere, standing out for its architecture and coats of arms: Casa Muzquiz, Casa Zabalegui, Casa Tximonco or Casa Don Fidel. Obanos had a Gothic church with majestic porticoes, but its deterioration meant that in 1912 it was replaced by the current Neo-Gothic parish church of San Juan Bautista, taking advantage of few elements of the previous one, such as the entrance door, typical of the full Gothic of the 14th century. It is in the centre of the town, next to the square.
The town conserves, in different enclaves, three Marian images from its medieval period. The parish church preserves the 12th century Romanesque carvings of Our Lady of Blanca and the Virgin of Our Lady of Arnotegui, although the latter was for quite some time in the hermitage that bears her name, and the hermitage of San Salvador guards the third. The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Arnotegui is located about two and a half kilometres from Obanos, at the top of the mountain that bears his name and the privileged viewpoint of Valdizarbe and Las Nequeas. Inside the hermitage of San Salvador we can find several passages from the life of San Guillén and Santa Felicia. The hermitage of San Lorenzo is located on the outskirts of Obanos near the road, is an eighteenth century building that was inhabited in 1980 by a community of Franciscan white nuns. The image of San Lorenzo is found in the Parish Church of San Juan Bautista and dates back to the 17th century. It is only open for worship on August 10, the day of San Lorenzo, going in procession to the hermitage.
Obanos celebrates its patron saint fiestas in honour of San Juan Bautista on 24 June, the small ones, and on 29 August, the large ones.
It is a tradition that on St. William's Day, which is celebrated on Easter Thursday, after the mass and procession, the wine and water are blessed and passed through the head of the Saint, which is kept in a reliquary. The following Sunday the reliquary is carried in procession in pilgrimage to the hermitage of Arnotegui. On the 10th of August, San Lorenzo, there is a pilgrimage to the hermitage of his name. On the third Sunday in September there is another pilgrimage to the hermitage of Arnotegui, but this time in honour of the Virgin. The representation of the sacramental of the Mystery of Obanos is staged every two years, celebrating the year they do not, the Week of the Mystery.
According to some hypotheses, until the end of the 18th century, in the place where the hermitage of San Salvador is located, the Aragonese and Navarrese roads joined in their pilgrimage to Santiago.
It is told in Obanos that there were two brothers in Aquitaine, Felicia and Guillen, who shared dreams and illusions about Felicia's future marriage to a rich and powerful nobleman. One day Felicia told him that she wanted to make the pilgrimage to Santiago as it was traditional in the family and she did, but when she returned home she felt the need to help her neighbor and stayed in a small town in Navarre. Upon learning of his decision, his brother Guillen, unable to control his rage, went out in search of him. When he found her, she refused to return to the palace and he, full of anger, killed her. Repenting, he undertook a pilgrimage to Santiago imploring forgiveness and being back to his homeland, he decided to build a hermitage in Alto de Arnotegui, where he remained, leading the life of a hermit and crying his sorrow.
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You can get to Obanos by following the NA-6061, which comes to the town from the nearby A-12. You can also get there from Puente la Reina/Gares on the NA-6064 and from Muruzábal on the NA-6016. The NA-601 road connects Obanos with the N-121 and the AP-15 motorway through Eneritz.
There is a regular bus service covering the Logroño-Pamplona route, stopping at Puente la Reina/Gares.
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