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Carlism Route

Historical, Thematic


Carlism Route - Mapa Ruta Carlismo
icono pie de fotoMapa Ruta Carlismo
Carlism Route - Etxalar
icono pie de fotoEtxalar
Carlism Route - Zumalacárregui
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Carlism Route - Carga de Lácar
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Mapa Ruta Carlismo
An itinerary that sets out to recall the historical memory of Carlism, a movement with a strong presence in Navarre in the 19th century that left its mark on many towns and villages, seen in the Museo del Carlismo in Estella-Lizarra.

In 1830 Fernando VII enacted the Pragmatic Sanction, which repealed the Law of Succession to the effect that if they King had no male heir his eldest daughter would inherit the throne. This measure excluded Prince Carlos María Isidro from the succession. Even before the death of Fernando VII a party in favour of the prince was set up (Carlists, or Traditionalists) and another group in favour of Isabel, the first-born of the King (Isabelinos, or Liberals).

The Isabelinos wanted liberal reforms along the lines of the French and Industrial Revolutions. The Carlists defended the old regime, the privileges and the influence of the Catholic Church and the restoration of the fueros (Charter). A large part of the population of Navarre took up this cause under the slogan Dios, Patria y Rey (God, Country and King) and intense wars ensued.
  • First Carlist War (1833 - 1840): after the death of Fernando VII, Carlist uprisings began that were gradually put down by the Liberals' army. It was a guerrilla war that was restricted to controlling small strategic enclaves. The major events took place in the area around Estella-Lizarra, which General Zumalacárregui stood out as a military strategist. His death, and the exhaustion of the Carlist movement led General Maroto to negotiate with Espartero and sign the Treaty of Vergara (1839) that put an end to the war.
  • Second Carlist War (1846-1849): in Navarra the persistence of Carlism was evident, and the movement did not hesitate to rise up again in defence of the fueros when urged by Carlos VI. When this pretender to the throne died Carlism split because Juan III, (the other son of Carlos V) was a Liberal. A large number of Carlists joined the moderates and others formed a neo-Catholic group.
  • Third Carlist War (1872-1876): Carlism received a boost with the new Pretender Carlos VII, a active and determined man who was very much in tune with the new circumstances. There was no longer a desire to return to the old regime, although the defence of religion and vindication of the Charter were still the pillars of his programme. By the end of 1875 the situation of the Carlists in Navarre had become unsustainable; they were almost without resources and lost the fort of San Cristóbal near Pamplona. In 1876 Martínez Campos conquered the Carlist capital, Estella-Lizarra, although the Carlists fought bravely until the end. They finally retreated and crossed the border into France.
    The Carlism Route sets out to show the visitor the sites where the Liberals and Carlists fought and met in the 19th century, mainly located in the north and centre of Navarre, where conspiracies, negotiations, confrontations and military training took place.

  • Main scenarios of Carlism in Navarre:
  • Estella-Lizarra, the capital of Carlism for many years and an important military site. The Court was set up there in the First Carlist War, and during the Third War its possession was a priority for both sides. Its streets witnessed procession of the followers of Carlos and the Pretenders to the throne: Carlos V and Carlos VII.

    - Los Llanos, where the Carlist trained: it is also the place where General Tomás de Zumalacárregui was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Navarre in 1833.

    - Convent of Santa Clara: this is the place from where the Carlists bombarded the Liberals, who took shelter in the convent of San Francisco in August 1873.

    - Convent of San Francisco: the present-day City Hall was used a defensive fort of the city between 18th-24th August 1873.

    - El Puy: Maroto ordered the execution by firing squad - in El Puy - of the Carlist generals who were opposed to the treaty of Vergara (1839).
  • Monastery of Iratxe in Ayegui: the site of the main Carlist hospital, where both sides agreed to provide more humanitarian treatment in battle.
  • Montejurra: this steep mountains was the site of the mythical battle of Montejurra between the Liberal troops of General Moriones and the Carlists of Brigadier Ollo. Three days of fierce fighting in the rain ended with a Carlist victory. Every year in May this place is the site of a popular pilgrimage organised by the Carlists as a tribute to the mothers of Navarre.
  • Elizondo: its location near the French border made it an inevitable place where troops entered and left Navarre. It also served as a refuge for the Carlists when they were pursued by the Liberals. On 10th July 1834 Elizondo was the scene of a meeting between the Carlist Pretender to the throne, and General Zumalacárregui, who led the Carlists during most of the first war.
  • Lácar, where Alfonso XII was almost taken prisoner: on February 3rd 1875 the Liberal troops were advancing towards Estella-Lizarra. King Alfonso XII was in the rearguard, but a stop on the way at Lácar, before the final conquest, became an inferno as a result of a surprise attack by the Carlists, who almost captured the King as a prisoner.
  • Altsasu/Alsásua, the witness of innumerable battles: the Barranca and the Burunda are strategic areas, a corridor towards Pamplona and Estella-Lizarra. On 22nd April 1834 Altsasu/Alsasua was the scene of one of the first major battles between the Carlists -led by Zumalacárregui - and the Liberals of Quesada. The Liberals were defeated.
  • Puente la Reina, a stopover on the way to the conquest of Pamplona, so many battles were waged here. The town was under Liberal control when the Carlists started a siege in July 1835. Seeing themselves surrounded, the Liberals decided to get out of the town and managed to kill some of the Carlist artillerymen who were shelling them, leading to the retreat of the remaining troops.
  • Abárzuza, in 1834 this village was the scene of a battle between Liberals and Carlists. The chapel of Santa Bárbara witnessed the confrontation, which ended with a Liberal victory.
  • Bera, on 2nd May 1872 The Pretender Carlos VII led the first steps in the Third Carlist War. On that day he entered Bera/Vera de Bidasoa, from where he launched manifestos to the army and the nation. The Carlists present were euphoric, and were accompanied by the pealing of bells and a Te Deum in the church.
  • Zugarramurdi: on 16th July 1873 Carlos VII entered Spain for the second time through the village. It was the Day of the Virgen del Carmen and he attended Mass, spent a few hours in the village and made the ascent of Peña Plata.
  • Etxalar: on 19th February 1876 one of the last battles of the Third Carlist War took place in the palomeras (pigeon hunting posts) of Etxalar. After seven hours' fighting, the Carlists retreated and Liberals occupied Bera/Vera de Bidasoa.
  • Orokieta/Erbiti: on 4th May 1872 the Liberals attacked the Carlist troops in Oroquieta. Carlos VII was with them, and although he initially hid in the priest's house he eventually had to flee to avoid being captured. This was the first intervention of the Red Cross in Spain and by one of its founders, the doctor from Pamplona Nicasio Landa.
  • Etxauri: on 23rd July 1873 the Third Carlist War was under way. Carlos VII held a military council with his generals in Etxauri. An assault on the nearby village of Ibero was organised, and it became the first locality to be taken in this campaign.
  • Mendigorría: in July 1835 the Carlists, after failing in their attempt to take Puente la Reina, try to lay siege to Mendigorría. The Liberals defeat the Carlists after a fierce battle.
  • Arróniz: on 6th March 1834 the battle of Arróniz took place. Fierce fighting ended with severe casualties on both sides.


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