Now we head into the Middle Zone of Navarre, in a hilly landscape that is a patchwork of vineyards and dry farming, where the Pyrenean mountains give way to the flatlands of la Ribera. Crossed from east to west by the Santiago Way, it is a Romanesque land, with castles y forts y de medieval villages. The magnificent Gothic castle of Olite, the enchanting medieval village of Ujué, the walled hill of Artajona, the monastery of La Oliva and the Valdorba Valley top the list of must-see places on this fascinating circuit. Let's get going.
Estimated duration of the route: 1 day, not including the alternatives marked with an asterisk (*)
The Royal Palace of Olite, built in the 15th century, was once home to a small zoo of exotic animals including lions, buffalo, ostriches, swans, a camel and a giraffe, very much in fashion among the European monarchy at the time.
This small village located 30 km from Pamplona invites visitors to close their eyes and travel back in time to when it was inhabited by kings, noblemen, bishops and popes. A 11th century walled enclosure emerges from the highest part, “The Walls”, with crenelated towers that are connected with a walkway. Inside you will find the 13th centurysanctuary-fort of San Saturnino. Here you will also find one of the most important examples of megalithic culture in Navarre, the “Portillo de Enériz”and “Mina de Farangotea” dolmens. (read more)
On the way to Valdorba we encounter Tafalla with its hub of local services, and notable art history such as the Romanic altarpiece of the Church of Santa María, the Plaza Mayor and other centenary palaces such as those of the Marquis of Feria and the Mencos family. (+Info)
If you like archaeological remains, just 9 km away in the town of Berbinzana , you can find the Museum and Archaeological Remains of “Las Eretas”, a 7 BC settlement.
This peaceful, silent and rural valley is dotted with windmills and fine examples of rural Romanesque works such as the crypt of the Orísoain church, the chapels of San Pedro ad Víncula and Santo Cristo de Cataláin in Garínoain, and the Iracheta granary. We can also follow various mycology routes, then taste gastronomic treasures such as truffles, or hearty game-meat dishes. (read more)
At the start of the 15th century, King Charles III the Noble thought up the idea of constructing the elegant and harmonious silhouette of the castle-palace that he loved, declared a national monument in 1925 and considered to be one of the most interesting Gothic civil ensembles in Europe. It takes up a third of the town centre.
A stroll down its narrow streets reveals noble large stone houses with coats of arms, grandiose wooden eaves, medieval galleries and splendid churches such as those of Santa María and San Pedro. Olite is also the wine capital - don’t leave without visiting one of its wine cellars to try the wines. Pay a visit to the Museum of Vineyards and Wine in Navarre, which brings us closer to the fascinating world of oenology. (read more)
Este pueblo, tan conocido por sus afamadas migas de pastor como por la belleza de su conjunto medieval, constituye un espectacular mirador sobre la cordillera pirenaica y la planicie de
A escasos kilómetros se encuentra la localidad de San Martín de Unx, cuna de buen vino, en la que paseando por sus callejas medievales hacia lo alto de la colina llegarás a la iglesia de San Martín de Tours, que alberga una llamativa cripta románica. (+info)
This is located in the municipality of Carcastillo. Its huge Romanesque church is one of the most authentic examples of Cistern art in Spain; the capitular hall, the Gothic cloister and the 14th century façade are particularly outstanding. As well as its artistic wealth, the monastery offers visitors the chance to listen to the liturgies chanted daily by the monks in vernacular tongue. (read more)
Don’t leave without trying the game-meat dishes, accompanied by any of the fabulous wines from the region, as well as the exquisite dishes made with truffle. The migas de pastor and caramelised almonds are the signature products of Ujué. For visitors with a sweet tooth, savour one of the well-known “El Caserío” of Tafalla coffee with milk caramels or the tortas de txantxigorri of Olite, and the famous turrón royo nougat of Artajona.
Hire a guided tour to find out more about the artistic patrimony of this route, you can visit wine cellars, try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, or go on nature walks or bike rides. Several of them will take you to the bird-watching observatory at the Laguna de Pitillas (+info).