In a land of transition between the first peaks of the Pyrenees and the plains along the river Ebro, Sangüesa stands on the banks of the river Aragón on slightly raised ground in the eastern part of the Central Zone of Navarre, 44 kilometres from Pamplona.
The primitive city stood on a rocky outcrop, the present Rocaforte, which served as a frontier post against Muslim invasions. However, it was the Pilgrim's Way to Compostela
that led to the birth of Sangüesa la Nueva on the plain below in the 12th century.
The town became an important stopover on the Pilgrim's Way on the route from the Somport pass in the Pyrenees. Sangüesa's prosperity and activity attracted merchants, pilgrims and artists to the town in the Middle Ages, and proof of this splendour is its rich artistic and historical heritage
Enter Sangüesa by crossing the metal bridge over the river Aragón. Immediately after, on the left, you will come across the greatest treasure of the town
, one of the best exponents of Romanesque architecture in the world: the church of Santa María la Real
. Its facade, which depicts the Day of Judgement, also has scenes from the Old and New Testaments, monstrous animals, legends and figures from different levels of medieval society. The church, declared a National Monument in 1889, was built between the 12th and 15th centuries.
A stroll through the old quarter reveals the monumental nature of the town
through such beautiful examples (all in the calle Mayor) as the family noble houses of Añués (15th century), Iñiguez-Abarca (18th), the Town Hall (1570) -which has a beautiful gallery of porches- and the houses of the París Iñiguez Abarca and Sebastian families.
Calle Alfonso el Batallador, which starts in calle Mayor, takes you to the Palacio Vallesantoro
, currently the town's Casa de Culture (cultural centre), crowned by one of the most spectacular wooden eaves in Navarre; and then on to the church of San Salvador (14th C.), the house of the Iñiguez-Medrano family with its Baroque entrance; and to the convent of the Carmelites (15th C.) with its 13th-century cloister.
There are also other artistic treasures to be seen, such as the church of Santiago
(Romanesque and Gothic), the convent of San Francis of Assisi
(XIII) or the Fortified palace of the Prince of Viana
, which evokes the era in which Sangüesa was the seat of the Court of the Monarchs of Navarre. If you have time, the Romanesque church of San Adrián de Vadoluengo is also worth a visit, 1.5 kilometres away on the road to Sos del Rey Católico.
The town also has pleasant spots to walk around, such as "Entrambasaguas" (literally, "between two waters"), where the rivers Irati and Aragón converge.
Sangüesa is also a land of traditions
. The patron saint's day festivities take place from September 11th to 17th, with a livestock fair and bull runs through the streets. On January 6th the Auto Sacramental (allegorical religious play) of the Misterio de los Reyes
(Mystery of the Three Wise Men) re-enacts the arrival of the Magi to worship the Child. Dozens of local people take part in the play, one of the five events of its kind that are conserved in Spain
Every summer (in August) Sangüesa is home to concerts and activities of the Cultur
The town is also a good example of traditional Navarrese cuisine, particularly for its pochas
(succulent white beans) and confectionery such as the huesos de Santo ("saint's bones") or virutas de San José ("St. Joseph's chips").
The area is also ideal for sports in contact with Nature such as parapenting, hang gliding, horse riding and canoeing.