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Chapel of Santa María del Campo

Churches and chapels


Chapel of Santa María del Campo
Chapel of Santa María del Campo
Chapel of Santa María del Campo


This 12th-century chapel, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, is one of the the most beautiful examples of rural Romanesque architecture in Navarre. Although it was initially the parish church of the village, it is now the cemetery chapel. It is called a chapel is because it stands alone and has an enigmatic air about it.

Located in the 'almiradío de Navascues' to the north of the Leire mountain range along the river Salazar and next to the road outside Navascués, Santa María del Campo is a surprise and an excellent stopping point on the way to the Pyrenean valleys of Salazar and Roncal.

Its majestic presence, with a strong belfry in the middle of its roof, invites the visitor to stop at the large explanade next to the cemetery. As you get closer you will see one of the singular features of this jewel of a monument: its corbels with profane themes closely linked to those of the Monastery of Leire. Just looking at the chapel induces a kind of serene harmony in the observer.

It is located in the Navarrese Pyrenees at the entry to the Salazar and Roncal valleys, in the only almiradío that is conserved in Navarre. The mediaeval distribution of the land in Navarre contained this geographic figure; the areas were headed by a tenente (lieutenant) or 'almirante' (admiral) appointed by the king of Navarre. The chapel of Santa María del Campo is one of the main relics of this historic territory.

Influenced by the Jaca school of architecture, it is a building with ashlar stones that has harmonious proportions and a stone slab roof. It has a single nave with three sections and a semicircular header. One unusual element, due to its special location in the middle of the nave, is the belfry. Square and slim, it opens up to the outside through large pointed geminate windows.

Another striking feature of Santa María del Campo is its collection of corbels sculputed with popular themes. Generally well conserved, they show beasts, birds, characters that look down on the observer or are in movement - like the man with the urinal or the acrobat doing a somersault. Some of them are clearly related to theRomanesque Puerta Speciosa of the Monastery of Leire. Both constructions have a naked women combing her hair (personifying lust), lions with "design" long legs and claws or mouths and birds of plumage that peck at their feet, representing souls that wish to escape.

Access to the interior of the chapel is through a pointed arch with two archivolts in the form of a chessboard and a christogram of the Jaca school. The first thing that draws your attention on entering the church is the height of the vaults and the narrowness of the nave. The Romanesque sobriety of the interior is interrupted by pointed arches, schematically sculpted capitals and a 16th-century baptismal font.


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Practical information

  • Locality NAVASCUÉS
  • Zone The Pyrenees
  • Interesting links
  • Style Romanesque
  • Protected work or place Bien de Interés Cultural