Santa María Jus del Castillo is a symbol of the cultural past of Estella-Lizarra
; its location on the site of the old synagogue
and the remains of a house from the old Jewish quarter link this Christian church to the Jewish past of the town. In 1145 King García V donated it to Pamplona Cathedral so that it could be converted to Christianity. The church was used as such until the 17th century.
The church has a Romanesque apse
and a single nave in three different sections separated by Romanesque pilasters and covered by cross-ribbed vaults. On the outside, the strong buttresses indicate the different interior spaces. The western façade
from the 18th century, in the Mannerist style. The belfry is also from the same period.
Closed for decades, the church only opened its doors once a year to celebrate the festivity of Santa Lucía. Now restored, the visitor to Estella-Lizarra between Easter and October
can enjoy this artistic relic, which has been converted into an Interpretation Centre.
The Centre takes advantage of the different sections of the church to present three themes:
First section: "Kings and frontiers"
: some panels show the family tree of the monarchs of Navarre and the evolution of its borders.
Second section: "culture of the kingdom"
explains the languages of Navarre at the time. One of the most valuable elements in the exhibition is displayed here: a model of mediaeval Estella-Lizarra.
Third section: "Romanesque architecture and the Way of St. James"
: graphics and models help to interpret these two important features of the mediaeval era..
The church also has a reproduction of the image of Santa María Jus del Castillo. The original is kept in the church of San Miguel