, a town of 7,500 inhabitants, lies in south-western Navarre in the region known as La Ribera. Among the fertile croplands of the Alhama valley stands a town with a tremendous winemaking tradition which also has an important artistic legacy; indeed, Corella is the reference point for Baroque
architecture in Navarre.
For centuries, the Alhama valley was fought over between Navarre and Castile due to its strategic frontier position, and the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella was arranged in Corella.In 1630, Felipe IV granted it the status of City, and in 1711 it was home to the Spanish Court for four months.Baroque in Corella
In every corner you will come across mansion houses, palaces -many of which feature wooden balconies- and convents which will spirit you back in time to an era of social and financial splendour. The civil architecture of Corella has its own unique features. It is characterised by brick
buildings with main entrances and coats of arms in stone. You will also find forged ironwork on the balconies. The brick, as well as serving as a building material, allowed very effective decorative results to be achieved with stark contrasts between light and shade.
A good option for touring the monumental district and not missing any of the artistic treasures is to follow the route that starts at the Plaza de los Fueros and ends at the Encarnación Museum/Arrese Foundation
. Listed below are some of the monuments you should make a point of seeing:
In the Plaza de los Fueros you will find the house of the Virto de Vera family (18th century) and the church of Rosario
(15th and 16th centuries), an impressive brick construction with a delightful high altar and works by Vicente Berdusán. It is well worth visiting the Plaza de España and stopping at the house of the Marquises of Bajamar
, a stately home in a very good state of conservation.
The route continues to the most outstanding religious Baroque building in the town, the parish church of San Miguel
. This is the oldest church in Corella
, but after the 15th century it underwent substantial remodelling and there are no traces left of the early building. You should make a point of seeing its high altar dating from the eighteenth century. In a modest house right opposite the church of San Miguel, a commemorative plaque indicates the place where writer and journalist Mariano José de Larra (1809-1837) used to live when his father was the doctor in Corella.
On Calle San Miguel there are two excellent examples of Baroque civil architecture of La Ribera: the Arrese palace
, a building with amazing Rococo decoration in pastel colours, which is not open to the public, and the casa de las Cadenas
(House of Chains), a building that is noteworthy for the two thick iron chains that hang from its main doors.
In 1711 this house accommodated Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy, the wife of Felipe V, who travelled to Corella to cure her tuberculosis. According to her doctors, the dry climate of the region and a diet based on garlic would improve the Queen's health. For four months, the Spanish Court installed itself in the house of Agustín de Sesma, which from that time onwards has adorned its doors with chains as a sign of gratitude from the monarchs.
Finally we come to the Encarnación Museum/Arrese Foundation. Part of its appeal lies in the fact that it is housed in a Benedictine convent dating from the seventeenth century. Inside the museum there is an interesting collection of pieces, notable amongst which are an altarpiece by Claudio Coello and works by Vicente Berdusán and the local painter Antonio González Ruiz.
Make sure you visit the 17th-centrury sanctuary of Our Lady of Villar
, a chapel that venerates the patron saint of the town, whose image recalls the style of Gothic carvings between the 12th and 14th centuries.Gastronomy and Festivals
Take a break to put a touch of flavour into your cultural journey. Asparagus, chard and garlic
are some of the specialities from the market gardens of Corella, which should ideally be washed down with the excellent regional wines, endorsed by the 'Navarra' Designation of Origin. If you like desserts, you simply must try the 'bolluelos'
, a deep fried almond puff pastry.
A good time to visit Corella is during Holy Week
, as the Good Friday procession is regarded as the most baroque and colourful of the entire Ebro valley. It has been declared of National Tourist Interest
and one of the 50 most traditional and representative processional parades in Spain. If you are more interested in bullfighting, make sure you keep some time free to take part in the festivities in honour of the patron saint, St. Michael, from 23rd to 30th September.