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The Church of Holy Sepulchre

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The Church of Holy Sepulchre
Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro
Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro

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The Church of Holy Sepulchre
The city of Estella-Lizarra, an important place on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago in the Central Zone of Navarre, is home to a large number of religious buildings, which emerged from the cultural and economic 'boom' of the 12th century. One of them, the church of the Santo Sepulcro (Holy Sepulchre), was left unfinished. Now it is the visitor's imagination that plunges into the Middle Ages to reconstruct the building, whose surprising façade is one of the finest examples of Gothic sculpture in Navarre. Dedicated sculptors worked on it delicately to create the apostles and relate scenes from the life of Jesus in an original way.

The church of the Holy Sepulchre stands near the river at one end of calle Curtidores in Estella-Lizarra, previously called the Rúa de los Peregrinos (Pilgrims Street). The church has been closed since 1881, and although it is not possible to go inside the beauty of its façade attracts a large number of visitors.

Building work on the church started in the 12th century. It was interrupted in the 14th century, so the ambitious initial project of a three-nave church similar to San Pedro de la Rúa, San Juan or San Miguel (all constructed towards the end of the Romanesque period in Estella-Lizarra) was left unfinished.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre contains a combination of architectural elements from different epochs. The apse of the nave of the Gospel is Romanesque, from the end of the 12th century. The construction of the headers and of part of the Epistle began in the 14th century, in the form of pentagon-shaped apses. The unfinished part of the work is particularly seen in the ground floor and the nave of the Epistle.

The only nave that was completed was that of the Gospel. It has a Gothic façade from the end of the 13th century, although with features more common to the half of the 14th.The front is the most attractive part of the church and is one of the best examples of Gothic sculpture in Navarre.

A look over the front of the church

The 14th-century front opens out onto the Rúa de los Peregrinos (Pilgrims Street). The upper part of the façade is characterised by a gallery of twelve three-lobed small arches, where the figures of the apostles can be recognised in the niches.

The tympanum, divided into three sections, tells stories from the life of Jesus. At the top is a figure of Christ on the Cross, surrounded by soldiers, Mary and St John. At either end there are two thieves.

The central section shows three scenes, from left to right. The first relates the visit of the Three Marys to the tomb of Jesus, over which an angel appears, with three soldiers sleeping at its feet. The central part illustrates the descent of Jesus into Hell, represented through the mouth of a dragon, out of which four souls emerge guarded by two demons. The third scene depicts the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene.

The lower part shows the Last Supper and is characterised by the rigorous symmetry of the figures and a curious change of perspective of the table, through which the viewer can see the plates.

On the dintel there are two busts, identified as Jews. Finally, the door has a pointed arch and flares out into twelve archivolts with highly decorated capitals that are supported on small columns. It is flanked by two sculptures: Santiago (St James), dressed as a pilgrim, and San Martín de Tours, dressed as a bishop and blessing the faithful.

From the church of the Holy Sepulchre you can visit other places of interest in Estella-Lizarra such as the convent of Santo Domingo, the church of Santa María Jus del Castillo, the Puente de la Cárcel (Prison Bridge), the church of San Pedro de la Rúa and the Romanesque Palace of the Kings of Navarre.
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Location

Opening hours

Todo el año: cerrada desde 1881. Sólo es posible ver el exterior de la iglesia.

Guided visit

Service provider: concertar con  Navark o Nahiaz.

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