Castle-palace of Olite
Dolmen of El Portillo de Eneriz. Artajona
- Type of route:
The memory of stone
This route covers some of the corners of the old Kingdom of Navarre. Fortresses, castles and palaces bear witness of its historic importance, while the agricultural products (vegetables from the rich fertile plain; wines of Valdorba, Olite and Artajone) offer the visitor the chance to taste its splendid gastronomy.
It is a great plan for a weekend, which starts in the town of Tafalla. In the old quarter we'll find civil architecture, with buildings such as the palaces of the Marquis of Feria (Neoclassical, 18th century) and Los Mencos, counts of Guenduláin (17th-18th centuries), as well as the Church of Santa María (16th-18th centuries).
We'll take the road that, after 10 kilometres, gets to the medieval town of San Martín de Unx, to visit its Church of San Martín de Tours, which is Romanesque but was renovated later on. 8 kilometres away we'll find Ujué, a medieval town dominated by the Romanesque Basilica of Santa María la Real.
We'll leave the Sierra de Ujué mountains to get to the banks of the Aragón River, after travelling about 25 kilometres along the road towards Carcastillo. 2 kilometres away we can find the Cistercian Monastery of La Oliva, a Romanesque walled site (late 12th century) with rooms, cloister and courtyards of different styles: Cistercian proto-Gothic, Gothic and Baroque (18th century).
12 kilometres away we'll find the walled site of Rada, a medieval village abandoned in the 15th century. There we'll be able to visit the remains (12th-13th centuries) of the castle, a tower, the wall and the Church of San Nicolás, next to current archaeological excavations.
Continuing on the same road, after 4 kilometres, in Caparroso, we turn towards Tafalla. After 10 kilometres, a turn-off will take us to the Laguna de Pitillas Nature Reserve, the largest wetland area in Navarre. The ornithological observatory is the ideal setting for bird watching.
To continue on our route we'll return to the Pitillas turn-off and after 5 kilometres we'll get to the village of Olite, dominated by the Royal Palace, the old residence of the monarchs of Navarre.
The "old palace", currently a Parador Hotel, is what's left of the old proto-Gothic 13th century palace. The Church of Santa María la Real (old chapel) was also built then. The Gothic "new palace" (14th-15th centuries) is one of the most important examples of medieval Gothic civil architecture in Spain. In Olite the Church of San Pedro (13th-14th centuries) is also worth visiting. This town is mainly interesting in July and August, when the Classical Theatre Festival and the Olite Medieval Festival take place.
At the Olite Vine and Wine Exhibition Centre in Navarre we'll be able to discover the wine-producing region we are visiting on our trip, which belongs to the original Navarre Designation of Origin wines. If we go in September, we'll be able to enjoy the Wine Harvest Festival.
We recommend extending this route with two other places in which we can also visit wine cellars. One of them is towards Artajona (11 kilometres from Tafalla), to visit the "Cerco de Artajona", a medieval walled site (11th-14th centuries) and the Gothic Church of San Saturnino (13th century). Only 4 kilometres away we can find the archaeological site of the Portillo de Enériz Dolmens and the Farangortea Mine, dating from the Copper Age (3rd millennium BC).
Another interesting trip is to the region of Valdorba, land of excellent wines, and Romanesque churches and chapels, all of them within 5-20 kilometres of Tafalla. The churches of San Juan Bautista (Eristain), San Martín de Tours (Orísoain) and La Asunción (Olleta), and the chapels of San Pedro ad Vincula (Echano) and El Cristo (Catalain) are all worth visiting.