The town of Ochagavía is located 764 metres above sea level at the northernmost point of the Pyrenean valley of Salazar
, in north-east Navarre. Surrounded by high peaks and beech and Scots pine forests, it is one of the most picturesque places in the Navarrese Pyrenees thanks to the architecture of its caseríos (large houses) and its location at the confluence of the Zatoia and Anduña rivers, which join here to form the river Salazar.A few historical details
The first references to the town of Ochagavía appear in the 11th century. It was always the largest town in the Salazar valley, which meant that it was entitled to be called 'capital'. This status, however, now corresponds to nearby Ezcároz.
At the end of the 18th century the French laid waste to the area in one of their incursions into the Iberian Peninsula, although the reconstruction that took place in the 19th century gave the town its present layout. Pyrenean architecture
The charm of Ochagavía is largely due to the image offered by the town, with its mediaeval bridge, narrow cobbled streets and the well-kept houses along the river Anduña.
Its houses are made of stone, with steep gable or hipped roofs with elaborately worked lintels and balconies. Among them we would highlight the mediaeval noble houses of the Urrutia, Iriarte and Donamaría families and some houses with coats of arms from the 17th and 18th centuries.
As for religious architecture, the church of San Juan Evangelista
(St John the Baptist) is a structure with medieval remains and others from the 15th and 16th centuries. On the outside, the church conserves the lath (wooden) roof that was typical of the buildings in the Salazar valley until the early 20th century. Inside, it has a number of Renaissance and Baroque altarpieces.
Another interesting construction is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Muskilda
, a Romanesque chapel from the 12th century that is located at the top of a hill four kilometres from Ochagavía.Traditions
The Navarrese Pyrenees has one particular treasure that generations of the valley have been able to conserve: the dances of Ochagavía
, whose origins date back to the mists of time. An excellent time to visit Ochagavía is on September 8th
. On that date a romería (popular pilgrimage) to the chapel of Muskilda takes place.
A group of eight dancers, dressed in typical costume and accompanied by 'el Bobo' (literal translation: the idiot), a harlequin dressed in green and red, dance two paloteados (dances with sticks) and a jota before carrying the Virgin Mary in procession. It is a great spectacle that attracts large numbers of visitors.Sport in the area around Ochagavía
If you are looking to enjoy sport around Ochagavía, you have come to the right place. In winter, the Nordic skiing slopes
of Abodi-Salazar allow you penetrate into the heart of the Irati forest. The access to the area is located at the old customs post of Pikatua on the road to Larrau, 13.5 kilometres from Ochagavía. You can choose between four routes of different levels of difficulty with a total length of around 30 kilometres (depending on the state of the snow). The Pico de Ori
(2,021 m.) is the most emblematic mountains of the Salazar valley. It is an easy mountain to climb. Its peak, which can be reached in just one hour from the car park located at the pass of Larrau, has exceptional views over the Selva de Irati forest
and nearby peaks.
There are also several trekking routes
: 'old route to Irati and Muskilda', 'gully of Otsate', 'Ochagavía-Udi-Jaurrieta-Ezcároz' or 'Ochagavía-Isaba'. If you prefer the tracks in the Irati forest, get on a mountain bike and follow your own route.
Ochagavía has a Tourist Office with extensive information on the routes around the area. It shares a building with a Nature Interpretation Centre
, which has information on life and Nature in the Salazar valley, and particularly on the great Selva de Irati
. A 23-kilometre-long road leaves the town and crosses the Sierra de Abodi to a paradise of beech and spruce trees.Gastronomy
Do not miss the opportunity to taste the excellent cuisine of the town and the valley. Try migas, an old shepherd's dish based on dry bread fried in pork and spicy sausage fat. Then, ternera (veal) and cordero lechal (suckling lamb), or trucha a la Navarra, trout fried with ham.
Other options are the exquisite wild mushrooms
such as the perretxikos in spring and hongos in autumn, or game dishes such as deer, boar or pigeon. End the meal with a cuajada (junket) or Roncal designation of origin cheese
and a digestive pacharán, the typical liqueur of Navarre made from sloe berries and anisette.