is the cathedral of St. Mary. Declared a
in 1884, it was built in the twelfth century over the town's main mosque. Before discovering the artistic treasures concealed inside the church, it is worth stopping to take a look at its three doorways, the most spectacular one being on the main façade, known as the
. Having been totally restored over the last few years, visitors are able to enter the light-filled central nave in Gothic style and its magnificent chapels and altarpieces.
The Ribera region of Navarre offers visitors a wide variety of artistic heritage whose best example is the cathedral at Tudela, declared a National Monument in 1884. Construction work on the cathedral, which was the old collegiate church of the municipality, started around 1180, following the precepts of Cistercian architecture and taking advantage of the remains of an old mosque.
The church, standing at the heart of the old quarter, has three entrances. The south entrance, or door of the Virgin, is the oldest and dates from the Romanesque period, and the capitals on its columns represent Christ's miracles. From a later date, although still Romanesque, is the north door, known as St. Mary's, and the third and undoubtedly most spectacular entrance is the door of the Final Judgement. A blend of Romanesque and Gothic, it is stunningly decorated with scenes from Genesis and the Old Testament and a representation of the Day of Judgement. To the left is Paradise and the rewards for the just; and to the right is Hell and sins, notably Lust, Avarice, Greed and Blasphemy.
The cathedral also houses an interesting and very large which was built at the end of the twelfth century by at least three sculptors. While circling the delightful inner garden, note the capitals on the columns, embellished with passages from the New Testament.
The interior of the cathedral also houses some great works of art. With a Romanesque ground plan, it is divided into three naves and has an enormous Gothic cross which gives way to a T-shaped apse. Opposite the high altar, in the centre of the cathedral, are the choir stalls, carved by the Frenchman Esteban de Obray and comprising 86 seats, whose central chair hides an unusual engraving. It seems that the artist had some problems getting paid for his work, so he carved out two crows picking at the eyes of a human head in a clear allusion to the proverb: "Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos" (Raise crows, and they'll gouge out your eyes).
Before leaving this artistic gem, it is worth approaching the central apse to study the high altarpiece that presides over it, which is in Spanish-Flemish Gothic style (15th century). To its side, in one of the lateral vaults, is an outstanding Romanesque sculpture of the White Virgin. It is also worth visiting the Baroque chapel of Santa. Ana where there is a Gothic carving of the city's patron saint, the Holy Ghost (18th century) and the chapel of San Martin with its beautiful Plateresque grille.
A good way of rounding off this cultural itinerary would be to wander through the narrow streets and typical passageways of the Jewish and Moorish quarters that used to exist in Tudela, and enjoy their architectural treasures. Alternatively, you could decide on a visit to one of the city's restaurants to savour the reputed vegetables from the market gardens of the Ribera.