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Church-Fortress of Santa María de Ujué

Churches and chapels

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Iglesia Santa María de Ujué
Portada de la iglesia
Paso de Ronda
Vídeo Iglesia Fortaleza de Ujué
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Iglesia Santa María de Ujué
At the highest point in the mediaevel town of Ujué, the fortified church of Santa María de Ujué stands high, elegant and imposing. Its name refers to a legend involving a dove (Uxua in Basque). The story tells of a shepherd who, while looking after his flock, saw a dove entering and exiting a hole in a rock. He approached the hole and found an image of the Virgin Mary there, so the townspeople built a church there to give her shelter.

The church is of Romanesque origin, swallowed up by different constructions that surround and sometimes hide it. Its most peculiar feature is its appearance of a military fortress, thanks to its crenelated towers ('Cuatro Vientos' and 'los Picos'), battlement walk and robust buttresses.

It is now an important Marian sanctuary, a National Monument where major reforms have been carried out. It is one of the jewels of the town thanks to its beautiful galleries, its great Gothic nave with a Romanesque header and two façades. The north side, simpler, is decorated with very descriptive scenes, and the south face - the main one- is a Gothic masterpiece that is certainly worth stopping to see.


Nowadays, Ujué is a small mediaeval town with narrow, stony streets where houses with mediaeval monumental doors and façades with coats of arms and Gothic noble houses abound. In the past, however, Ujué was the main bastion of the Kingdom of Pamplona against the Muslims who occupied the Ebro valley. This church, with its imposing appearance as a fortress, is the result of those wars and alliances.

The present building is the result of several stages of construction. It was erected on the orders of and through the contributions of a number of monarchs. It started as a Romanesque church with a triple header (11th and 12th centuries). In the 14th century, Carlos II, who professed great devotion to the Virgin Mary of Ujué, decided to reform the church.

The three Romanesque naves were demolished, and only the header and the first section remained. A single Gothic nave was then built.
This king was also responsible for the luxurious vaulted embattlements with its belvedere, the royal residence and the hospital. He also wanted to give the town a university ('Estudio General').

Carlos II loved the Virgin Mary of Ujué so much that, when he died, his body was embalmed and buried in Pamplona cathedral, but his heart was removed and it now rests in a chest next to the effigy of his adored Virgin Mary.

It is a 12th-century carving in aliso wood, covered in silver. It is exquisitely beautiful and considered one of the oldest Romanesque images in Navarre. The most striking characteristic of the 1-metre high statue is the clean face with precise features. Her large almond-shaped eyes and her small, fine-lipped mouth give her a gentle, dreamy expression.

Another of the jewels of the church of Santa María is the South Façade, from the 14th century. It is one of the greatest Gothic works in Navarre. It has a pointed and flared layout, with 10 archivolts that rise up to form an arc. On the capitals, the outstanding feature is the decoration related to the grape harvest (women collecting grapes, a bird picking at a vine...). There are two scenes on the tympanum: the Last Supper and Epiphany. It is said that the person kneeling before the Virgin Mary could be Carlos II, who wished to be immortalised as the benefactor for the works. It creates a great sensation thanks to the size of its figures and the delightful composition.

Become a sentry for a moment and walk along the battlement walk, from where you can see the town of Olite, with which Ujué had a close relationship in the 14th and 15th centuries.

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Location

Opening hours

Primavera: todos los días, de 10:00 a 19:00. *Horario aproximado.

Verano: todos los días, de 10:00 a 19:00. *Horario aproximado.

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Remarks: la voluntad.

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