Estella to Los Arcos, Spain – 21.5 km

Moderate hills, comfortable dirt paths; this day’s trek took us through woods, vineyards, areas without shade and hot sun, but throughout the morning and in the distance, our view for quite some time was the white cliffs of the Sierra de Lóquiz.

The Sierra de Lóquiz is a mountain located west of Navarra, in the Estella district. It runs from east to west, and separates the Amescoa valley, to the north, from the Berrueza valley, to the south with an area of ​​140 km. 

Further research revealed that Lóquiz is one of the least known mountain ranges; its charms are typical of the Natural Parks: rocky crests of high altitude, ravines, impressive forests and a varied fauna, that make it pure wild nature.

Will have to table that adventure for another day!

Estella, Part 2 – street scenes at La Plaza de San Martín

Some background – Estella-Lizarra lies on both banks of the Ega River and is known as the “capital of Navarre’s Romanesque art”, thanks to the rich architectural heritage of its historical center. It was a key stop on the pilgrims’ way to Santiago.

The city was founded in 1090 and takes great pride in its Romanesque features: convents, bridges, palaces and stately homes, creating a visually stunning and charming architectural experience. Had we planned the trip in mid-July, we might have witnessed its “Medieval Week”, one of the most spectacular popular festivals in Spain that takes visitors back in time to the Middle Ages.  So much to see with little time. Yet, there are always fascinating sights and finds:

–take a close look at the extremely ornate, thick, wooden door with its medieval rustic hardware! It’s someone’s home!!

–a beret displaying the iconic El Camino scallop shell hanging next to the front door of another’s home

–El Camino bicyclists on the main drag mowing down and chasing residents and trekkers to the side of the road**

–more ornate balconies and laundry lines  –the 16th century La Mona fountain in San Martín Square…

** I am only slightly kidding re: the bicyclists; they were a bit better in the cities, however most were lunatics on the narrow and often steep trail – somewhat like snowboarders on a ski slope!!

 

Estella, Part 1 – Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro

Estella comes from the word Lizarra, which means “star” in the Basque language. It’s not a very big town, but boasts an impressive number of historically significant buildings, so many that, according to locals, to visit them all would require a least a full weekend. Unfortunately, we couldn’t devote the time. However, located right on El Camino de Santiago, stands La Iglesia Parroquial del Santo Sepulcro (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre), one of the best gothic portals of the Navarre region.

Made in the 2nd half of the 13th century, its authors were French artists, hence an excellent example of the expansion of French influences along the Jacobean route.  

Sadly ravaged by time, the patron saint of the pilgrims, Santiago, is represented in one of the two sculptures that are out in front of the facade, both appearing to greet all pilgrims!! (It is unknown whether the other sculpture could be either San Julián or San Saturnino).

The church of the Holy Sepulcher is unfinished, but its northern facade is one of the jewels of the medieval sculpture of Navarre – it is a detailed observation of the twelve sculptures (6 shown here); further research indicated not all were apostles. Hmmm…

   
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