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The Walls of Artajona

Town walls


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Perfectly adapted to the profile of the small hill on which it stands, the Cerco (old walls) of Artajona offer the visitor the opportunity to enjoy the most important medieval fortification in the Central Zone of Navarre.

A stroll inside reveals an 11th-century walled town that originally had fourteen crenelated towers, although only nine of these remain, joined by the battlemented parapet. You reach the enclosure through one of the two old gates that are still conserved (San Miguel and Remahua), which take you back in time to the Middle Ages.

It is easy to imagine the place inhabited by monarchs, noblemen on horseback, minstrels, bishops and farm workers in heavy clothes. Relive the past and try and imagine what life was like in this place, crowned by the fortress-church of San Saturnino, a sold and imposing building from the 13th century that has been declared a Historical-Artistic Monument.

The highest part of Artajona offers a view of an impressive walled enclosure scattered with crenelated towers that blends in with the landscape of fields that surround the town. The origin of this fantastic fortress, known as "El Cerco", goes back to 1085, when building work started under the orders of the clerics of Saint Cernin of Toulouse. This work was completed in 1109. Throughout the centuries monarchs, lords and clerics coveted the town and this led to a number of struggles that brought about the reconstruction of the fortress on many occasions, particularly during the reign of Carlos II "el Malo" (14th century).

After climbing up the steep slopes that lead up to the walls the visitor can enter the enclosure through two ancient gates, San Miguel and Remahua. The robust masonry walls were watched over by fourteen lookout towers, of which nine have been conserved. They are cubic in shape and have merlons, and are joined together by the 12th-century wall and a battlemented parapet.

The enclosure protects the fortress-church of San Saturnino (Saint Cernin), which, apart from acting as a bell tower, was an important lookout post. Built in the 13th century on the ruins of an old Romanesque church, it was part of the defensive system of the town. This is clear from its robust walls and buttresses, the battlemented parapet over the dome of the nave that served as a dungeon, the well, the use of the vestry as a prison and the 14th-century prismatic tower that was used as a sentry post in the 15th century.

Particularly notable is its monumental Gothic facade from the end of the 13th century. Twelve richly decorated archivolts surround the tympanum, where the figures of the martyrdom of San Saturnino and of Queen Juana de Navarra and her husband Felipe "el Hermoso" are carved.

Another curious element is the medieval cistern. Recently found on the north side of the church, it has a surface area of seven by four meters and is three meters deep. It is cut off at the top, but there are still corbels on the sides, on which the ribs of the vaulted ceiling must have once rested.

If you visit the church you will be able to see a Gothic altarpiece made between 1505 and 1515 that has a carving of San Saturnino sitting down, a Gothic carving of the Virgin Mary and Child, and a Hispano-Flemish Gothic carving that is rounded off by paintings and a lot of gold. The apse also contains interesting Gothic murals.

After visiting the fortified enclosure, pass by the imposing caserío (farmhouse) of Artajona on the side of the hill and enjoy an impressive view over the whole medieval town.

Did you know that...?

Se puede acceder mediante visita guiada a la cubierta de la Iglesia de San Saturnino y ver su ingenioso tejado invertido y paso de guardia.


Opening hours

Otoño: acceso libre al cerco. Consultar en el Punto de Información Turística, cómo acceder a la Iglesia de San Saturnino y a su singular tejado.

Horario del Punto de Información Turística:

  • Hasta el 15 de octubre: de martes a domingo, de 10:00 a 14:00 y de 16:00 a 19:00.
  • A partir del 16 de octubre: sábados y domingos, de 10:00 a 14:00 y de 15:00 a 18:00.
  • Puente de El Pilar (del 12 al 14 de octubre): todos los días, de 10:00 a 14:00 y de 16:00 a 19:00.
  • Puente de noviembre (del 1 al 4 de noviembre): todos los días, de 10:00 a 14:00 y de 15:00 a 18:00.
  • Puente de diciembre (del 1 al 9 de diciembre): días 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 y 9, 10:00 a 14:00 y de 15:00 a 18:00. Resto de días, consultar.

Invierno: acceso libre al cerco. Consultar en el Punto de Información Turística cómo acceder a la Iglesia de San Saturnino y a su singular tejado.
Horario del Punto de Información Turística:

  • Horario habitual: sábados y domingos, de 10:00 a 14:00 y de 15:00 a 18:00.
  • Navidad (del 23 de diciembre al 7 de enero): horario sin cambios.

Guided visit

Description: existen diferentes tipos de visitas, tanto al Cerco como a la Iglesia de San Saturnino y a su singular cubierta y paso de guardia. Posibilidad de realizarlas en inglés y francés. Las visitas salen desde el Punto de Información Turística.

Price of the visit: consultar.

Service provider: Punto de Información Turística, 644027515

Opening hours - Todo el año:

  • Visitas a la Iglesia-Fortaleza: de manera continua dentro del horario del Punto de Información. Fuera de horario, llamando por teléfono al 644027515 (comprobar disponibilidad).
  • Todos los sábados y domingos Visita Guiada Especial:  recorremos las murallas y todos sus puntos de interés, entramos a la iglesia-fortaleza y descubrimos sus secretos y recorremos su peculiar tejado Lomo de Dragón, donde descubriremos el singular sistema medieval de recolección de aguas a través de un tejado invertido, que se adelantó siglos a su época. Una o dos visitas especiales por día (consultar horarios).
  • Audioguías para los momentos en que no hay visita guiada.


El Punto de Información Turística se encuentra dentro del cerco, frente a la puerta principal de la Iglesia Fortaleza de San Saturnino.

Opening hours, dates and guide prices. We recommend you confirm with the entity in question.

Practical information