Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Navarre in Relation to the Camino

This post is different from my normal writing in that it is an assignment for a graduate class and is mostly going to deal with images rather than words.

My task is to take you through a virtual tour of the Way of St. James, or the Camino, as it passes through Navarre.  The Way of St. James is a traditional pilgrimage that dates from Medieval times.  Pilgrims would travel to Santiago de Compostela (the Cathedral of St. James in Compostela, Spain), which is considered the traditional resting place of St. James.

Image of the Camino in Navarre from Navarre's official tourism website

The above image, taken from Navarre's Official Tourism Website, shows several different routes that connect to the Way of St. James.  This virtual tour will follow the way as it begins in Orreaga/Roncesvalles and travels some 130km to Viana.

The view of Orreaga/Roncesvalles from this website dedicated to the Camino

One finds Orreaga.Roncesvalles tucked in the foothills of the Pyrenees in Northern Spain.

Interior of Iglesia Colegial courtesy of this website.

The Navarre tourism board recommends visiting the Collegiate Church of the town, which is built in a beautifl Gothic style.  Certainly the light streaming through the stained glass windows would be inspirational to any pilgrim who offered prayers in this sacred space.

Following the Camino will lead you to the great city of Pamplona.

Aerial view from

Pamplona is a modern city, but it is not devoid of sings of its ancient heritage.

Pamplona city walls © Turespaña
Pamplona city walls from

A pilgrim could not help but be impressed by the city's fortifications.  But more impressive is the city's cathedral.

Pamplona Cathedral © Turespaña
Pamplona Cathedral exterior from

An image of a side chapel in Pamplona's cathedral from this website

Continuing along the way to the Southwest, a pilgrim would find the beautiful Romanesque bridge at Puente La Reina.
Fair weather over the bridge, from this website.

As the bridge is the blending point of two different routes on the Camino, it is possible that a pilgrim would hear the singing of other pilgrims along the way.  One singing group takes the notion of blending even further when they mix together Jewish, Christian, and Muslim medieval music.  Perhaps some lucky pilgrims once heard something similar to their performance many centuries ago.  Perhaps not.  But it is important to note that medieval Spain was home to many cultures that existed, relatively briefly, in harmony with one another.

As a pilgrim reaches the edge of Navarre the town of Viana becomes a place to say farewell to the region.  The Church of St. Maria in Viana is a beautiful Gothic church to which a Renaissance entrance was later added.  The church is yet another beautiful example of the Gothic style.

                          Portada de Sta. María        Retablo de Sta. María
St. Maria exterior and interior from the Navarre Tourism Official Website.

The 130 kilometers of the Way of St. James in Navarre are full of many beautiful sights, far beyond what is presented here.  No virtual pilgrimage can compare to the real thing, so, to conclude this post, I exhort my readers to learn more about the Camino, and perhaps consider making the pilgrimage and seeing these many beautiful sights in person.