Amidst the fog-shrouded mountains of the Pyrenees, stone brings history and legends to life in the form of the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles. It is a landmark on the Camino de Santiago (Pilgrim’s Way), a hostel-cum-hospital, and, for the vast majority of pilgrims, a starting point on the route. This small corner of northern Navarre where the legendary Battle of Roncesvalles unfolded (evoked in the mediaeval poem ‘La Chanson de Roland’) is not easily forgotten. Its overwhelming beauty tempts the visitor to stop and surrender to its charm.
The Pyrenean enclave of Orreaga/Roncesvalles, in the north-east of Navarre near the French border, represents a milestone on the Pilgrim’s Way and is home to one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture on the Iberian Peninsula: the Colegiata de Santa María (St. Mary’s Collegiate Church). The descent from the Ibañeta mountain pass, on the road from Luzaide/Valcarlos, brings us to this old hostel/hospital, built at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century to take care of pilgrims following the Pilgrim’s Way after crossing the Pyrenees.
Information from the oficial website of the Navarre Tourist Board. Photograph: © mackedwars / www.panoramio.com
More: Church of St. Mary of Eunate, Puente la Reina, Estella-Lizarra, Monastery of Leire, Monastery of Iranzu, Castle of Javier, Sangüesa, Royal Palace of Olite, Monastery of La Oliva, Ujué, Roncal, Isaba, Ochagavía Belagua Valley, The Irati Forest , The cave of Zugarramurdi, Elizondo, Señorío de Bértiz Natural Park, The Arbayún Gorge, Tudela, Bardenas Reales Natural Park