Picture courtesy of the Tourist Office of Puente la Reina - Gares
AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY: Chartered Community of Navarre
DISTANCE TO SANTIAGO: 684 km
Calle Puente de los Peregrinos, 1
31100 Puente La Reina / Gares
Tel.: [+34] 948 34 13 01
LINKS OF INTEREST
Civil protection: 092
Health Center: [+34] 948 34 80 03
DYA - Ambulances: 112 – [+34] 948 34 10 37
FESTIVALS & OTHER EVENTS
- Festival of Saint James: July 24th-30th.
- Pepper Market: between the months of September and December.
Puente la Reina is an important crossroads where the two branches of the French Way merge: the one coming from Roncesvalles and the one coming from Somport. This makes it one of the towns with the greatest “Compostelan” spirit in Navarre. The main street is dotted with interesting monuments erected over time as a reflection of the strength the locality has won thanks to the passage of thousands and thousands of pilgrims over a millennium. Manor houses, churches, convents, two medieval bridges and interesting gastronomic proposals are the great attractions that this historic enclave has to offer.
- Romanesque bridge: impressive engineering work over the river Arga to facilitate the passage of pilgrims after walking along the main street of the town. Queen Doña Mayor, after whom it was named, ordered it to be built in the 11th century, measuring 110 metres. LEGEND OF THE WAY: In the central part of the bridge there was a niche with a statue of the Virgen del Puy, known as “Txori” – nowadays kept in the church of Santiago. Legend has it that every day a little bird (“txori”, in Basque) visited the statue, cleaned it with its beak and prevented accidents from happening. Then, the day the statue was moved to its new location, a man fell from the bridge and died.
- Gothic bridge: the focus is often put only on the famous bridge that gives its name to the town, but Puente la Reina/Gares has another small great work of engineering near the town centre: the bridge over the Robo river, with pointed arches and a more robust structure, but still not lacking in beauty and charm.
- Church of Santiago: located in the heart of the town, it maintains the Romanesque façade of the previous temple, with its lobed arch and its sculptural wealth of archivolts and capitals. Once inside, looking up at the sky, one can see finely crafted starry vaults and a Gothic carving of the Apostle, traditionally known as “Santiago Beltza” (“Saint James the Black”, in Basque).
- Church of the Crucifijo: it is the church that welcomes pilgrims as they arrive in town. Of Templar origin, once inside one notices something odd: it is a Romanesque temple with an added Gothic nave, which results in a particular two-naved structure. The other curious feature is the carving of Christ Crucified. Dating from the 14th century, the wood is non-debarked and has a Y design.
- Medieval walls: the layout consisting of three parallel streets and several alleys connecting the streets (known as “belenas”) is purely medieval. This plan was created from scratch following the model of French bastides from southern France. Surrounding this urban layout, the belt of walls and towers enclosed and protected the local population. Only the walls that overlook the Paseo de los Fueros, the Torre del Relox and the tower at the beginning of the bridge remain today.
- Set of medieval and Baroque houses: Calle Mayor is dotted with manor houses and other noble buildings, whose façades with coats of arms and sculpted eaves stand out for their lively colour and exquisite workmanship.
Track Puente la Reina - Estella
|On foot||Medium Difficulty|
|PRM (pilgrim with reduced mobility)||Not suitable|
Road NA - 1110. Guardrails.
NEARBY POINTS OF INTEREST
- Santa María of Eunate (Muruzábal): singular Romanesque complex consisting of an octagonal-plan church and a cloister that does not stand on one side of the church but surrounds it instead. Further elements that draw our attention: the sculptures on the modillions and on the north front, and the large number of stonemason marks on the stone blocks.
- Hermitage of Nuestra Señora of Arnótegui: hermitage of great tradition in the valley of Valdizarbe with beautiful views of the surrounding area. In the 19th century, it was occupied and used as a fort by the liberals during the Carlist Wars. The name comes from the Basque words "arrano" (“eagle”) and "tegi" (“place”), that is, “place of eagles”.
LEGENDS OF THE WAY:
Church of San Miguel (Olcoz) and Church of Santa María of Eunate (Muruzábal): soon after the building work of Eunate began, the master stonemason commissioned to do the job had to leave the site before completing the main doorway. The friars then resorted to an old local stonemason, who – legend has it, was a true “jentilak” (a creature from Basque mythology with amazing faculties and superhuman strength), who finished the task quickly and perfectly – in three days. When the first stonemason returned, he complained about this intrusion. The abbot called upon him to erect another arcade under the same conditions and deadline.
The master stonemason realized this was impossible and wandered desperately looking for a solution, until he found a young witch who lived by the spring of the nearby river Nekeas. She offered him her help, saying: “You must wait for Bonfire Night. A serpent will come to bathe in the river. Before diving in, he will carefully leave on the shore a moonstone that he always keeps in his mouth. You have to take the stone and place it in a golden cup filled with river water. When the moon rises, the light reflected in the water in the chalice will work the wonder, helping you to reproduce the characters of the stone to imitate in your new work ".
The master builder did as he was told and with a minimum help from his tools built a new arcade similar to the existing one, but in reverse, as if it were a reflection. When the stonemason saw the replica as he passed by, he angrily ripped the door off and kicked it so hard that he sent it flying to Olcoz, where it has remained to this day.