The walls of Artajona, a small town in the Central Zone halfway between Puente la Reina and Tafalla, conceal a wealth of history that will take you back to the Middle Ages, times of territorial conquest and marriages of convenience when the town became the wedding present of King García Ramírez to his wife, Lady Urraca.
The impressive walled complex of "El Cerco"
, which you can enter free of charge, goes a long way to explain the struggles this town had to confront. It is made up of narrow streets along which façades bearing coats of arms, mansion houses and palaces proliferate.
Strolling along its streets full of medieval charm, tradition and history, you will feel that the present is the past, and vice versa. Walk along calle Eugenio Mendióroz, with its stone paving and steep hill; calle Mayor, adorned with monumental houses and palaces with elegant façades ennobled with coats of arms; or calle San Pedro, a narrow, winding street.
Admire the numerous buildings with the pointed or half-point arched doorways typical of the 16th century; the magnificent shields and the palaces and passageways of the 18th century.
In the lower part of the village stands the church of St. Peter
, a Gothic building dating from the 13th century with a beautiful doorway and slender medieval tower. To have a look inside, where some important altarpieces, Baroque carvings and various pieces of silverwork have been preserved, you need to ask for the key in the Parish House in the Plaza de los Fueros, 20 metres from the parish church.
On the outskirts of Artajona, on the road leading out to Pamplona, is the Baroque basilica of Our Lady of Jerusalem
, built between 1709 and 1714. The friars who live in the adjacent building will give you the key to get in, where you can admire a Romanesque carving of the Virgin, worked in enamelled copper and very highly venerated in the town.
Also on the outskirts, but going towards Tafalla, is the chapel of St. Bartholomew (19th century) which holds a monumental carving of the saint.
Another of the attractions of this locality is its bells. Of the four that still remain, two are Roman in style, the oldest dating back to 1735, and the largest weighs 1,801 kilos. Artajona can also boast of being the only place in the world where the bells cross in reverse
The village, which holds the festival of its patron saint between 8th and 15th September, also celebrates San Saturnino's Day on 29th November with an unusual "fork and sickle race"
. In addition, at the end of August every year the town celebrates an "Encounter with the History of Artajona"
, which includes a craft fair, bell-ringing, a market, a falconry display and guided tours of "El Cerco".
If you like hand-made crafts you can buy stone sculptures, material for playing pelota, turrón (similar to nougat) and "El Cerco" cakes and traditional sausages made by the Ochoa Echeverría brothers.
In the surrounding area you can also visit the dolmens of Portillo de Enériz and La Mina
, which are reached by a path leading from the back of the cemetery.