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The Church of San Miguel

Pilgrim's Way to Santiago
Churches and chapels


The Church of San Miguel - The Church of San Miguel
icono pie de fotoThe Church of San Miguel


The Church of San Miguel
In the neighbourhood of San Miguel in Estella-Lizarra, on the left-hand bank of the river Ega, where Franks and Navarrese used to coexist in the Middle Ages, stands the church of San Miguel. It is a building as simple as it is beautiful; its interior houses some valuable artistic treasures. The construction of San Miguel, which stands on the top of a rocky escarpment known as "La Mota", began at the end of the 12th century, but work continued over the years, which allows us to identify the different styles of the building.

Its northern doorway, one of the most representative examples of late Romanesque, and the Gothic altarpiece of Santa Elena inside the church, are worthy of special attention.

With its solid appearance, having been restored between 1987 and 1992, the church of San Miguel is an excellent introduction to the neighbourhood of the same name, where Franks and non-Franks once coexisted, dedicated to the local trade that still continues today and can be seen every Thursday in the square of the same name.

The external appearance of the building is impressive, affording contrasting volumes such as the Baroque tower at the top of the building and the stone mass of the medieval tower at the foot of the nave.

But the real artistic treasure is the North façade, representative of late Hispanic Romanesque, which is reached by ascending a long staircase. In the tympanum you can make out image of Christ in Majesty, surrounded by the symbols of the four evangelists and the Virgin Mary and St. John as intercessors at the moment of Justice.

In the corbels you can see a lion swallowing a person, and another one opposite vomiting the person out. In the archivolts, from the inside to the outside, i.e. from God towards the world, are find angels, ancient musicians of the Apocalypse, prophets, saints and various representations of evil. In the relief on the left-hand side you can make out the battle of St. Michael and the dragon, and on the right-hand side a beautiful carving of the three Marys before Christ's empty tomb. Various inscriptions in Latin explain the meaning of these scenes to the faithful.

You can't enter the church from the southern entrance, dating from the 13th century, whose archivolts are supported on capitals decorated with plants and some small heads.

The chevet, comprising three Romanesque apses from the 12th century, features three pointed arches in the central apse, narrative capitals and slender columns.

Some of the artistic treasures that can be found inside the church include the altarpiece of Santa Elena (1406), an important Aragonese Gothic work which shows the saint discovering the cross on which Jesus died, or the high altarpiece from the 18th century, with a Flemish-Gothic image of St. Michael. In addition, you can see the Virgin of Bethlehem, from the 14th century, the tomb of the Eguía family and the altarpiece of San Crispín and San Crispiniano.

Outside the church, on the site of the old cemetery, stands the chapel of St. George, just a few metres from the main church and connected to it by a pointed archway. A Gothic work from the 14th century, it has a trapezoidal layout and the appearance of a military tower. It contains a wooden image of St. George on horseback fighting a winged dragon in Flemish-Gothic style.


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