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In the foothills of the east-Navarran Pyrenees and in the middle of a changing landscape, stone and greenery come together to offer you these 5 gems. The emblematic Javier Castle, the birth-place of our patron saint in 1502, the beautiful Monastery of Leyre, and the spectacular Romanesque façade of Santa María La Real de Sangüesa. You can also enjoy the panoramic views of the Arbaiun Gorge from the viewpoint at the Iso mountain pass, or watch the griffon vultures soar over the Lumbier Gorge whilst you walk along its beautiful trail.
Estimated duration of the route: 1 day, not including the alternatives marked with an asterisk (*)
San Francisco Javier is the world saint of Tourism and the Patron Saint of Missions along with Santa Teresa of Jesus.
This is a natural reserve located at the entrance to the Pyrenees via the Salazar Valley.
An extensive gorge with imposing vertical sides, it runs along almost 6 km and is the nesting ground for a large colony of griffon vultures.
If you want to capture a good photo shot, walk out onto the Iso Viewpoint cantilever balcony - the views are impressive. (read more)
Another natural reserve, cut by the River Irati, and featuring a beautiful 1,300 metre walk along its trail, following a Greenway that runs alongside the river.
Vultures also nest on the walls of the cliffs, and can frequently be seen soaring over the gorge. (read more)
To get to know these two beautiful gorges, come to the Lumbier Gorge Interpretation Centre.
Near the border with Aragon, Sangüesa is a town along the Santiago Way. The moment you cross the medieval bridge you find the most valuable treasure: the façade of the Santa María la Real Church, the pinnacle of the Romanesque period and a national monument. A genuine stone altarpiece. There are also outstanding buildings such as the church of Santiago, palaces like the medieval Prince of Viana Palace and that of Vallesantoro with its splendid Baroque eaves, as well as the convents of Carmen and of San Francisco. (read more)
if you are interested in the Medieval world and have time, there are two great options.
Lose yourself down the maze of narrow cobbled streets in Aibar and take in the stately homes, arches, porches and buildings from different periods. Before you know it you will come across the Romanesque church of Saint Pedro, which looks down over the town from a hill. (read more) In Gallipienzo Antiguo, a 10th century medieval watchtower, you can enjoy a spectacular view over the River Aragon, the Pyrenees, the Low Mountains, Sangüesa and the surroundings of Ujué. Don’t leave without visiting the crypt at the Saint Salvador church, one of the seven Romanesque churches on the Spanish mainland.
If you like Roman remains, go to the Roman villa at Liédena, constructed between the 2nd and 4th century or to Santa Criz, near the town of Eslava, where you can find the remains of a Roman city that lived out its full splendour in the 1st and 2nd centuries.Tarde
Built in the 10th century on live rock, it is the birth-place of the Patron Saint of Navarre, San Francisco Javier, one of the most important Christian missionaries in history. Cross its drawbridge and discover its towers, dungeons, loopholes and arrow-slits. Another interesting visit is to the Chapel of Santo Cristo, and its Gothic paintings depicting the death dance, unique in Spain. Each year thousands of Navarran locals congregate at the castle to celebrate the popular pilgrimage known as “La Javierada”. (read more)
Perched on the mountain range of Leire with beautiful views over the Yesa reservoir, sits this monastery, which is the mausoleum of the first Kings of Navarre, and within which lie magnificent treasures such as the 11th century crypt, the Gothic vault and the “Porta Speciosa”, a perfect 12th century Romanesque portico. You can still hear the Gregorian melodies, interpreted daily by the Benedictine monks at the abbey. (read more)
Sangüesa is also a fine example of traditional Navarran cuisine, though it is particularly famous for its pochas beans, its traditionally made cold cuts, and for some of its speciality desserts such as glorias de yema. This land is also where D.O. Navarra wines are produced, from the area called Low Mountain, as well as liquors such as the one produced in the Leyre Monastery.
Activities that can be enjoyed on this route range from hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, river rafting and canoeing down the River Irati, to paragliding and hang-gliding from the peak of mount Arangoiti, or tourist flights in ultralight planes from the flight centre in Lumbier.