The importance that the present-day Comunidad Foral de Navarra has and that the old Kingdom of Navarre had is reflected in the rich artistic and historical heritage it treasures. Navarre has important religious buildings throughout its territory that years ago contributed to the control and prosperity of the Kingdom of Navarre and its people. Lonely sanctuaries, located in rugged mountains, next to notable and crowded monasteries are still today true places of worship and pilgrimage.
Authentic cultural centres from time immemorial, today they maintain their first essence, the peace and tranquillity provided by the environment that surrounds them, turning them in turn into almost obligatory stops for those who visit Navarre doing tourism. The Route of the Monasteries and Sanctuaries of Navarre transports us along spectacular landscapes while leading us through the different monumental groups that make it up, allowing us to delve into the history and traditions that surround each one of them, while at the same time discovering beautiful corners or enjoying the works of art they treasure.
We began in the limits of Navarre with France, in the middle of the Baztán Way as it passed through the town of Urdax, probably the initial motivation that forged the creation of this monastery, heir to an old pilgrims' hospital located in this same place back in the 11th century. The monastery came to have an important library, lost in one of the different fires that devastated it, forcing the monks who inhabited it to leave it almost in disuse until it was definitively abandoned in 1839. The cloister and the church, which date back to the period between the 16th and 17th centuries, are still preserved today. For a moment we can afford to put ourselves in the shoes of the pilgrims who are still surprised by the striking pink color of the monastery that brings the characteristic stones of the valley with which it was built.
Following the course of the Way of Baztan through the road N-121-B, we set course towards the nearby Irurita where we will say goodbye to it to cross the fertile mountains of this area of the Navarrese Pyrenees passing through Egui and then in Zubiri go up the valley of Erro by the French Way to Roncesvalles. Gateway to this famous Jacobean Route, this place treasures history, tradition, fervor and culture. We are before a true wonder of the Navarrese Gothic that keeps, jealous, jewels like the sepulchre of King Sancho VII the Strong. The Chapel of the Holy Christ also known as the Silo of Charlemagne, the church of Santiago and the imposing landscape surrounding the collegiate church, make thousands of pilgrims choose Orreaga-Roncesvalles as the starting point of their way to Santiago, as well as making it a mandatory stop for a large number of tourists who visit every year.
We take again the route and we do it returning on our steps for shortly after passing by Burguete to say goodbye to the Valley of Erro and to cross again the mountains that keep jealous the exuberant Forest of Irati in direction to Ezcaróz, in full Valley of Salazar, from where we will go towards Ochagavía. After crossing this well-cared for village, we leave the road that brought us here to climb the mountain in search of the Muskilda Sanctuary. This solitary hermitage, which dates back to the 12th century, is surrounded by deep-rooted traditions and mysterious legends which, together with its privileged location, from which the high Pyrenean peaks can already be seen, make Muskilda an almost magical place. Patron saint of the Salazar Valley, the peace and tranquillity breathed in this place gives way to traditional and picturesque dances and pilgrimages that every year venerate the image of the Virgin, a carving of Gothic origin that surprises by the laughing and cheerful aspect of the patron saint.
We say goodbye to this beautiful spot to return to Ezcaróz and let ourselves be carried away by the Salazar Valley in its calm run until we reach Lumbier where we will leave to the A-21, motorway that joins Pamplona with Jaca, which we will follow until the locality of Yesa where we will take a detour to ascend to our next stop. The Sierra de Leyre gives its name to this important monastery whose mixture of different architectural styles attest to the long history that accompanies it. The Speciosa door, the pantheon of the first Kings of Navarre or its crypt dating back to the 11th century are some of the treasures that surprise visitors. Such a place could not escarpment of legends and traditions that, together with the rich natural heritage that surrounds it, contribute to increasing the importance of including it as an obligatory stop for those who visit Navarre. Proof of this are the pilgrims who come to it every year, parking for an instant the Aragonese branch of the French Way they are travelling, also known as the Aragonese Way, to come here.
We leave the north of Navarre to set course for its fertile riverside, first heading towards Sangüesa and then towards Aibar, from where we take the NA-534 road that will take us to Cáseda, San Isidro del Pinar and finally to Carcastillo. It is on the road that connects Carcastillo with Caparroso where this singular monastery awaits us, whose church is an example of Cistercian art. The first information about this enclave dates back to the 12th century and its origin, as could not be otherwise, is not exempt from its corresponding legend. The church of Santa María, the cloister, the chapterhouse, the old sacristy, among other jewels, make up a monumental ensemble of great beauty and humility that does not leave the visitor impassive. It is also surprising the strong contrast of the environment that surrounds it, which passes from the productive fields of the Navarrese shore to the sinuous and arid lands of the Natural Park of the Bardenas Reales.
We continue the road to Caparroso where we follow the course of the N-121 towards Castejón and from there continue the march to Cintruénigo and then to Fitero. The nearby Monastery of Tulebras, close to Tudela also tempts us with its charms so that we dedicate part of our time to it. Today National Monument, was built back in the twelfth century and now we find a real architectural jewel, the first with the order of the Cister in Spain. It houses true historical treasures, such as goldsmith's pieces, its cloister that combines the Renaissance style with the Herrerian style, an ivory casket from the 10th century or the majestic main altarpiece. Another characteristic that surprises and in which in the previous stops of our route we were not accustomed, is that this monastery is completely integrated in the urban helmet of Fitero, an unusual fact for the monasteries of this order.
We leave Fitero and set out to go up the Ebro Valley along the Ribera Navarra. To do so, we head towards Rincón de Soto, leaving Navarrese territory for a moment. Once there we will set course towards Peralta for nothing else to cross the Ebro and to return to enter Navarre to divert us towards Azagra. The NA-134 will be in charge of taking us through San Adrián, Andosilla, Carcar, Lodosa and Mendavia to say goodbye to the prosperous Ebro Valley and get closer and closer to the mountains that house our next stop. Lazagurria, Torres del Río and Espronceda precede Torralba del Río from where we will undertake the final ascent that will take us to this peaceful sanctuary located in the foothills of the Sierra de Codés. Under the attentive gaze of the picudo mount Yoar back in the 16th century, the current sanctuary was erected over the old chapel, whose tower and portico stand out from the rest and rival the magnificent views enjoyed from this place.
Once you have decided to continue walking, you can return by the same road that brought us here to Torres del Río and follow the Camino dual carriageway to Estella/Lizarra. Another option is to continue along the narrow road that will take us past Otiñano, Piedramillera and Murieta, among other localities. From the latter, follow the NA-7310 road that leads to Estella before turning off in the direction of Irache to approach its well-known monastery located near the old national road that linked Logroño and Estella. Pilgrims' hospital, university, war hospital or religious school, are some of the uses that this building has had over the years. It is an obligatory stop on the French Way of Saint James. Its origin dates back to the 11th century, and the Romanesque temple is the building that stands out from the rest of the architectural ensemble. The monastery was inhabited by friars until 1985, when its last inhabitants left.
We take the route back into Estella-Lizarra, which well deserves an additional stop, saying goodbye to this town while following the NA-120 towards San Sebastian. It is in Abárzuza where we will leave this road for the moment to approach our next stop. Nestled between the mountains that delimit the Yerri Valley, this majestic monastery built between the 12th and 14th centuries awaits us. The environment that surrounds it invites us to walk through its beautiful cloister with calm enjoying the tranquillity that this place transmits at the same time that we discover the different styles that merge in the architecture of the cloister. The impressive chimney of its kitchen, the abbey house, the chapter house or the church of Santa Maria, are some of the attractions that come to add to those mentioned above, without forgetting of course, the magnificent landscape that surrounds this interesting Cistercian monastery.
We return to Abárzuza to take the road we left parked before and go back along it towards the port of Lizarraga which we will cross to descend to Arbizu where we will take the A-10 towards San Sebastián and Pamplona, leaving it a few kilometres after passing through Arruazu. It is in Uharte Arakil from where the narrow road that ascends to the colossal site starts where this temple with more than 1000 years of antiquity awaits us if we take as reference the first existing data where the sanctuary is mentioned, since the present temple dates from the XII century. Loaded with legend and mysticism, the sober temple now forms an inseparable part of the Sierra de Aralar where it sits. From here you can enjoy magnificent panoramic views that further enhance the sensations that this place conveys to those who visit it. This important and well-known sanctuary is the final touch to this route of the Monasteries and Sanctuaries of Navarre with which we will surely have known part of the history of this land and discovered some of the treasures it hides.
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.
¿Did you know that...
Due to its historical and architectural relevance, the Monastery of Leyre is one of the most important monastic complexes in Spain, becoming of great importance in the history of the kingdom of Pamplona-Nájera, as well as in the history of Navarre and the Reconquest.
Don't miss out...
The Wine Fountain that you will find in the vicinity of the Monastery of Irache, descending a few meters to Estella by the same route, but in the opposite direction, which follows the Camino de Santiago as it passes through this area.
Distance of the route
501 Km This figure may vary depending on the route we follow.
Duration of the tour
10h 00min It is the approximate time that it will take us to carry out the visits, without counting the displacements between each place.
Time of year
All year round. Although in spring and autumn the landscapes that we cross contribute a great beauty to the route.
Historical, cultural and landscape. This route gives us to know part of the history of each place, next to the landscapes that surround them.
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Route information updated on 17-10-2018. 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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