It is located in the middle-eastern part of Navarra, on a terrace on the left bank of the river Aragón, where the mountains and the Ribera de Navarra meet. The municipality of Sangüesa-Zangona is made up of three nuclei, the city of Sangüesa and the towns of Rocaforte and Gabarderal. Sangüesa has a remote origin, as archaeological remains dating from the Bronze Age have been found in its municipality. Furthermore, in places such as Los Cascajos, El Castellón, El Real, San Babil, Santa Eulalia... remains of Roman settlements have been found. It is believed that the old population centre known as Sangüesa la Vieja was where the present Rocaforte is located and that, thanks to its strategic border situation in the Kingdom of Pamplona, it was a good defensive bulwark against the Muslim armies, which is why King Sancho Ramírez granted it, around the year 1090, the jurisdiction of Jaca.
Alfonso I the Battler, in the year 1121, reconquered the area and repopulated Sangüesa, thus developing the Burgo Nuevo in the current location of the city. Years later, and due to the constant disputes between Navarrese and Aragonese, powerful walls were built in the town, of which some remains remain. Being Sangüesa, in the XII century, a locality of passage and important stop for the pilgrims that in their Way towards Santiago crossed the Pyrenees by the step of Somport, the city was equipped with numerous hospitals, the one of San Nicolás, the one of the Magdalena, the one of the Templars... In the same century neighbourhoods and parishes were built, but little or nothing remains of them due to the order of demolition given by Cardinal Cisneros. Sangüesa was head of the Merindad of the same name since the 13th century, and also had the title of "Good Town" with a seat in the Courts of Navarre; the Queen Blanca granted it, in 1430, the privileges of the market as an aid to repair the damage caused by a flood in the river Aragón.
The city maintained, given its military features, its status as a stronghold until the sixteenth century and it was in 1665, for a royal grace and payment of 6000 ducats, when it obtained the title of city. During the War of Succession, in the early eighteenth century, was besieged and devastated and in the nineteenth century was also the scene of the War of Independence, against the French, and Carlist Wars. Sangüesa has always been one of the main mercantile centres in the mountains. Herds from the valleys of Salazar and Roncal passed through here in their transhumance towards Las Bardenas. Sangüesa was reached by the almadías, rafts made of wooden trunks to lead them along the rivers, and at the beginning of the 20th century the disappeared Irati railway arrived here, which was the first electric passenger train in Spain and covered the Pamplona-Sangüesa route.
The Way to Saint James has passed through Sangüesa for centuries, which has contributed, in part, to its history and to the architectural heritage that can be seen in the streets of the city. The Romanesque church of Santa María la Real was donated in the year 1131 by Alfonso I the Battler to the order of Saint John of Jerusalem. It is located next to the bridge over the Aragon River, at the entrance to the Calle Mayor. It has a beautiful and famous cover of this time, the tower is Gothic XIII-XIV centuries and has octagonal plant. The old Romanesque bridge over the river Aragón, built at the end of the 11th century by King Sancho Ramírez, was renovated in the year 1892 and on one of its pillars a tombstone with a Roman inscription "cornelia sibi et cornel" is preserved. The convent of San Francisco de Asís whose foundation is attributed to San Francisco de Asís himself when he passed through Navarre at the beginning of the 13th century on his pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Santiago and the convent of Carmen, also from the 13th century, are the only remaining of the four convents that existed in Sangüesa. The church of Santiago el Mayor began to be built in the year 1144 in a Romanesque style although its works did not finish until the fourteenth century, the lack of capacity of the church of Santa Maria, before the large number of parishioners of the place and pilgrims of the Way, led to the construction of this church dedicated to the Holy Apostle Santiago.
Sangüesa is said to have a monument in each street, its monumental complex is declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. The palace of Ongay-Vallesantoro is a seventeenth-century baroque style building, has a large linteled doorway that shines in addition to the coat of arms of the family, colonial ornaments of Mexico and Peru: sirens, suns and bucraneos, ox's head hanging from its horns garlands. On its façade, one of the most spectacular wooden eaves in Navarre is striking, with thirteen canes, part of the beam of a building that protrudes from the outside of the façade and supports the cornice, representing fantastic animals trapping human heads, exotic flora and fruit and Indian bottoms and grotesque figures.
The medieval fortified palace of the kings of Navarre is also known as that of the Prince of Viana. The Town Hall is one of the oldest town halls in Navarre and occupies a 16th century Renaissance-style palace built on one of the wings of the palace of the kings of Navarre. He was born on 25 April 1903, Henry II of Navarre, in the Calle Mayor, in the house of the Sebastians. The palace of the Dukes of Granada de Ega, from the 15th century, the palace of the Counts of Guenduláin, baroque from the 17th century. The Gothic cross called Cruz de San Lázaro or de los Azadones, the arch of Carajeas, the church of San Salvador from the 13th and 14th centuries, are some of the monuments that adorn the urban framework of Sangüesa, but we must not forget its hermitages by which the local people maintain a great and devoted tradition, the hermitage of La Nora is on the banks of the river Aragón, the hermitage of San Babil, which although there are documents from the 14th century from another previous sanctuary, this was built in the year 1503 being immediately under the protection of the Crown that turned it into a royal basilica, the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Camino or the hermitage of Las Nieves.
Sangüesa celebrates its patron saint fiestas in honour of San Sebastián from 11 to 17 September, although it is also honoured on 20 January. On 3 December, the patron saint of Navarre, San Francisco Javier, is celebrated. The pilgrimage to the Nora hermitage is on the first Sunday in October. On 15 August the Virgen de Rocamador is celebrated. A San Babil on the 1st of May as well as on the 24th of January there is a pilgrimage to the hermitage.
Sangüesa is a land of deep-rooted traditions and this has led it to preserve craft trades such as forging, brass or lead, beekeeping, wood carving, ... Another ancestral tradition, in this religious case, are the prayers that during the month of April the neighbors of Sangüesa, perform in the chapels, these prayers had place to ask for a climate conducive to crops.
The convent of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, whose origin is in the Carmelite hermitage built on the other side of the bridge over the river Aragón, the current Nora hermitage, and which for security reasons in times of war was moved to the intramurals of the town of Sangüesa back in the year 1380, is now the Conservatory and Auditorium of Music. It conserves a beautiful Gothic cloister in which the medieval dinners of Sangüesa are celebrated every summer, an activity of great gastronomic and cultural prestige. One of the rooms of the old convent houses an interesting exhibition known as the Museum of Tower Clocks, old machinery from the bell towers of churches and town halls.
On the cover of the church of Santa María la Real, sculptures tell the Nordic legend of Sigurd, a young hero who, with the help of the blacksmith Regín, once again forged his father's fragmented magic sword, called Gram, and with it and some of the teachings he received from him about fighting with dragons he managed to kill the dragon Fafner, who guarded the famous treasure of the Nibelungs. The blacksmith asked him to pay with the heart of the feared dragon. When the time came, Sigurd confronted Fafner, wounding him in the neck, and when blood gushed from the wound, a few drops fell on the mouth of the young and brave Sigurd, who at the moment realized, amazed, that as if by magic, he understood the language of the birds who told him that if he bathed in the dragon's blood he would become invulnerable, which he undoubtedly did, but like Achilles, during the bath a leaf landed on his back making this the only vulnerable point of his whole body. Then the young hero took the heart of the dragon to the blacksmith, thus paying off his debt.
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The NA-132 reaches Sangüesa-Zangoza from Tafalla. In addition to communicating with this locality, it also communicates with the AP-15 and the N-121 between Pamplona and Castejón. In the same way, the NA-127 joins it with Liédena and the A-21, known as the Pyrenees motorway between Pamplona and Jaca, and in the other sense it joins it with the Aragonese town of Sos del Rey Católico. There are also other local roads that connect Sangüesa-Zangoza with nearby towns such as Yesa and Javier or Gabarderal and Cáseda.
Sangüesa has bus services that several companies manage and that communicate with Pamplona, Javier, Yesa, the Roncal Valley, Huesca, Zaragoza, Sos del Rey Católico, and the other towns on the routes.
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