Estella - Lizarra, one of the undisputed protagonists of Navarre's history. A treasure like few others, indisputable samples of its important past, linked to the becoming of a powerful kingdom that together with the most important pilgrimage route in Europe, the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago, left an indelible mark, not only on the city but also on its people. The city grows around one of the meanders formed by the river Ega, seeking the protection of it and the hills where its first inhabitants settled.
The itinerary of Monumental Estella transports us from time to time, contemplating the indelible traces left here by the different people who form part of the history of Estella - Lizarra. To walk through it is to immerse yourself in part of the history that surrounds us at every step, a history that is still alive, as witnessed by the thousands of pilgrims who cross its streets every year. Churches, palaces, castles or bridges, witnesses not so mute that they will tell us the facts that happened in them, contributing a special symbolism to the already important cultural patrimony that Estella - Lizarra offers to the visitor.
The Square of San Martín from where we will be able to contemplate the unmistakable silhouette of the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, major church of the city since the XIII century, is the starting point of this route that will make us go back in time following part of the history of Estella/Lizarra present in its streets and monuments. The characteristic tower of the church, visible from different points of the city, and the most recent staircase that gives access to the temple from the same square, are a clear example of the great variety of styles that we are going to find when visiting this illustrious building. Its verticality surprises us from the outside, increased by its position and the height of its tower opened in its lower part by a Gothic style window. In its interior we can contemplate its beautiful cloister with, like that of the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, a double capital formed by two columns twisted together, or the baptismal font of the late twelfth century among many other works testify to the importance that during different periods has had this church in the evolution of the history of Estella / Lizarra and Navarre.
Saying goodbye for now to the Plaza de San Martín and the monuments located there, to which we will return at the end of the tour. We head towards our next stop, following the Camino de Santiago in the opposite direction as it passes through the locality. As we pass, we leave behind noble houses that still preserve their regal appearance, such as the Palace of the Governor or the Palace of the San Cristóbal family. The river Ega, which divides the city into the different districts that make it up, accompanies us without us almost perceiving it up to the outskirts of Estella, where we will find the imposing façade of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Begun in the 12th century, from this architectural period only the semicircular style of the Gospel nave can be appreciated, while the rest of the building presents a clear predominance of the Gothic style. Its exuberantly ornamented façade is the first image that pilgrims have when they reach Estella/Lizarra, forcing them to stop on their way in order to dedicate the necessary time to contemplate the three scenes of Christ's Resurrection that are represented in it.
Converted for a moment into pilgrims we take up again the Way that brought us here with the view on the façade of the Convent of Santo Domingo, founded by Teobaldo II there by the year 1.259 and that together with the church of Santa María Jus del Castillo formed part of one of the most important Jewish quarters of the Kingdom of Navarre. This old Jewish quarter suffered an assault in 1328 and years before it had seen how its synagogue, the current church of Santa María Jus del Castillo, became consecrated as the church of All Saints. Today this church houses the interpretation centre of the Romanesque and the Way of Saint James. We return to the Way so that, at the gates of the Rúa by which we leave the Plaza de San Martín, we find another of Estella's landmarks, the Puente de la Cárcel or Puente Picudo as it is popularly known. Sitting on the foundations of the old Romanesque bridge flown by the liberals in the 3rd Carlist War, its unevenness is surprising and we are obliged to save it in order to continue the course of our route, seeing rewarded the effort for the panoramic view that we will enjoy from its pointed centre.
We descend the steep bridge to definitively enter the historical centre of Estella, streets and narrow passages that welcome the daily bustle that gives life to this city and that will accompany us in a good part of the route. To the church of San Miguel we can accede by some of the staircases that arrive until her from the Old Market Square or from the Zapatería Street, in both cases we cannot fail to contemplate the impressive north cover of the church whose capitals or the Pantocrator of the Tympanum form part of a true architectural jewel of the Romanesque. In its interior we will discover different works such as the altarpieces and from the outside we will have, thanks to its elevated location, a privileged photograph of Estella.
We leave behind us the church of San Miguel to continue our journey through the city, crossing its main street that brings us step by step to the vicinity of the Plaza de los Fueros, which together with its neighbor, the Plaza de Santiago, are the true heart of Estella. This square hosts every Thursday of the year one of the busiest flea markets in the region where you can find typical products of the land and crafts. Here is located the church of San Juan, a clear exponent of how different architectural styles have put their stamp on this city. The original building was built at the end of the 13th century and only the portal of the Gospel nave remains of it, while its main façade is neoclassical due to the sinking of the vault and its tower that forced its reconstruction. In addition, in its southern façade we can find a Gothic style façade that completes the architectural variety of the building.
From the Fueros Square we start the ascent towards the hillock where the temple that houses the patron saint of Estella is located, the Virgen del Puy, which, as its name suggests in French, is situated on a hill or hillock, where, according to tradition, shepherds discovered the image of the Virgin thanks to the stars that indicated the exact place. Following the street Don García Jiménez we will go to overcome the unevenness that separates us from the basilica, helped in part by the elevators that overcome the unevennesses that separate the streets that we have to cross. Surely at the end of this stretch of elevators will call our attention to the battered Church of San Pedro de Lizarra, whose tower allows us to get an idea of the history that this temple has, as evidenced by the Roman stele that is in it. Not having been able the patience, we border this church to continue with the ascent that now without mechanical aids takes us up to the same door of the Basilica of the Puy. From the present building of neogothic forms that rises on a star-shaped floor, the special illumination of its interior as well as the carving of the Virgin of the Puy plated in silver is striking.
From one of the highest points of the city we descend following the steps that brought us here from the Fueros Square and from there continue along the Paseo de la Inmaculada that will take us to pass next to the town hall building. The river Ega reclaims its protagonism at the same time that we cross it following the Puente del Azucarero that takes us directly to the Plaza de San Martín, starting point of this route and where the old Palace of Justice and the well-known Fuente de los Chorros await us. Together with the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa and the Palace of the Kings of Navarre form one of the most impressive compositions in Estella. The Palace of the Kings of Navarre, also known as the Palace of the Dukes of Granada de Ega, was built in the second half of the twelfth century and is now a museum. On its façade we can relive passages from the struggle between Charlemagne's paladin, Roland and the giant Ferragut, being the ideal point and followed from which to enter Estella even further to know the places that still keep inside.
Map of the route
This map is a sketch made as an example of the route, in no case represents the best or the only itinerary to follow. Its development has not taken into account the current rules of circulation or the state of the places through which it passes and that could affect its layout.
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¿Did you know that...
Formerly Estella was composed of three neighborhoods, each with its own independent walls, these neighborhoods were San Juan, San Pedro and San Miguel which joined and gave shape to the current city in which even today you can identify part of those three initial neighborhoods.
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Estella's Medieval Week, celebrated every year in mid-July, in which the city is decorated with flags, banners and torches and its inhabitants wear colourful medieval costumes which, together with the performances of minstrels, fights between knights or samples of craftwork, turn the city into an authentic medieval town.
Distance of the route
3,1 Km This distance may vary depending on the route we follow through Estella.
Duration of the tour
1h 25min It is the approximate time that it will take us to cross the distance, to which we will have to add the time that we dedicate to each place.
Time of year
All year round. We will find different activities throughout the year.
Historical and cultural. This route takes us through the different periods of the city's history.
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Route information updated on 20-07-2019. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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