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History of the Route to Santiago in Navarre

Navarre has been a fundamental region over the history of the Route to Santiago, one of the most important religious-cultural phenomena in the Middle ages. In Navarre several itineraries joined together, and starts the French Route by Roncesvalles. Other itineraries include the Somport, Barranca, Baztán, from Monleón to Roncal and Lumbier, the Ribera, Val de Aibar and the Valdorba routes. On Navarrese lands converged the French and the Aragonese Routes (along with the fourth french route, that crossed Somport). 

It was Sancho III the Major, King of Navarre, who fixed the definite course of the Route. The monarch also introduced the Cluniac influence and the Romanesque art, which was extensively cultivated along the Route until the 16 C.

Navarre was as important for the Route as the Route was for this region. All over the Navarrese kingdom are vestiges of this historical milestone, especially the magnificent monuments: the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles; the church of Eunate; the Cathedral of Pamplona; the church of Torres del Río; the Monastery of Leyre; the Castle of Javier...

Pilgrims have also left their marks along the Route, especially in Roncesvalles, where were built many monuments, including the famous Collegiate-Hospital in the French style -to cure the pilgrims´wounds- and the chapel-graveyard for pilgrims of the Sancti Spiritus, from the 12 C. Pilgrims were also crucial to the development of Puente la Reina. Once joined together the two branches of the Route, the number of walkers that passed by Navarra increased, which favoured the establisment of the town.

From the 16 C, the Route to Santiago fell gradually into oblivion, and in the 20 C, the pilgrimage had been virtually abandoned. But Navarre came again in the history of the Route. Around 1960 the Route was recommenced thanks to the first Associations of Friends of the Route of Santiago, first in Paris, and then, in 1962, in Estella, before they extended over Europe. Its work was recognised when the Council of Europe declared it "European Cultural Itinerary". Since then, the Route has been rescued from oblivion.