Cultural tourism in Navarre

Cultural tourism in Navarre

Historical splendour which has survived to this day

Cultural tourism in Navarre appeals to you. And there’s no shortage of reasons.

Because this land is a crossroads, with a rich and varied past which comes to us through the heritage of prehistoric peoples, Romans and Muslims.

Together with the splendour of Christianity, they have all left their mark on Navarre’s villages and towns, turning them into destinations of enviable artistic wealth. Prehistoric archaeological sites, Roman settlements, Romanesque and Gothic churches built along the Way of St James, monasteries where even today Gregorian chants can be heard.

The Community of Navarre was a kingdom until the 16th century; hence the royal crown on its coat of arms. It’s also the only autonomous community in the country with the adjective Foral in its official name, which affords it a unique form of autonomy upheld for hundreds of years.

And we can’t fail to mention the traditional local festivals held throughout the community — the San Fermín festival, carnivals, patronal and folk festivals — are a clear reflection of the idiosyncrasy and essence of Navarre.

Another exponent of Navarrese culture is the Basque language, the only non-Indo-European language spoken in western Europe. It’s a co-official language, along with Spanish, in the north of Navarre.

After such an introduction, what do you say we start with all the things you shouldn’t miss?

Navarre’s cultural musts

If you won’t be staying long, don’t fail to visit our top four, attractions that live up to their fame. Then, if you’re staying a bit longer, you can venture beyond these to the other notable towns, villages and monuments we recommend; you can be sure it’s well worth it.

  • Navarre’s cultural musts Monumento al Peregrino en el Alto del Perdón

    The Way of St James

    Thanks to more than 10 centuries of peregrination, villages, beautiful Gothic churches and Romanesque bridges have flourished. An immense cultural legacy to which we owe so much.

  • Navarre’s cultural musts Vista de Pamplona con el río Arga

    Pamplona

    The capital. With a delightful historical quarter, century-old walls, parks with histories and lots of trade and cultural life. Haven’t visited it yet?

  • Navarre’s cultural musts Colegiata de Orreaga/Roncesvalles

    Orreaga/ Roncesvalles

    An impressive ensemble, the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles, founded at the end of the 12th century, is the gateway to the Way of St James in Spain.

  • Navarre’s cultural musts Palacio Real de Olite

    Olite Castle

    A Site of Cultural Interest since 1925, the castle is one of the most visited places in Navarre. Don’t miss its whimsical crenelated towers and Gothic windows.

Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

Our impressive cultural heritage wouldn’t be what it is today if it hadn’t had as a backdrop some of the historical towns and villages we bring you here.

Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters
  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Tudela

    In the south of Navarre, between the staggering aridity of Bardenas Reales and the intense green of the vegetable gardens of the Ribera stands Tudela, the second largest and most important city in the community.

    Founded in 802, Tudela is one of the most important cities of Islamic origin in Spain and, indeed, Europe. Muslims, Jews and Mozarabs lived there side by side, leaving the city with the cultural mix reflected in its monumental buildings and which doesn’t go unnoticed as you stroll through its winding streets and alleyways, past its city walls and watchtowers.

    Because Tudela is a city for walking, and you shouldn’t miss its magnificent cathedral and palaces, the joy of sitting in Plaza de los Fueros and, of course, the pleasure of tasting its exquisite vegetables. Don’t let the chance pass you by; it's well, well worth it!

    Download a street map of Tudela
  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Ujué

    Sat atop a solitary hill on a plateau, this medieval village is a maze of steep, narrow streets which culminate in the Sanctuary fortress of Santa María de Ujué.

    Crenelated towers and a wall walk from which you can see the Pyrenees on one side and the plains of the Ribera on the other. Don’t miss Ujué’s tasty garrapiñadas (sugared almonds) and traditional migas de pastor (shepherds’ breadcrumbs); just the thing to round off a perfect day.

    Download a street map of Ujué
  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Estella-Lizarra

    Estella-Lizarra isn’t known as the Toledo of the north for nothing. Its streets are just packed with bridges, palaces and churches, vestiges of the historical splendour of this market town which grew up beside the Way of St James.

    Its Romanesque gems are a must for visitors: the Palace of the Monarchs of Navarre, the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa, with its delightful cloister, the doorway of the Church of San Miguel and the Puente de la Cárcel (Gaol bridge). Enjoy the great atmosphere in Estella-Lizarra, and if you get the chance, visit the traditional Thursday market and feel the flavour of the Way of St James flow through your veins.

    Download a street map of Estella-Lizarra
  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Puente La Reina

    Puente La Reina is an atypical linear town and crossroads that serves as a meeting point for pilgrims travelling the two branches of the French Route of the Way of St James. This is where they join up to make their way to Santiago de Compostela.

    The town’s main attraction is its slender Romanesque bridge, so perfectly in tune with the churches of El Crucifijo and Santiago, the Plaza de Mena and its aristocratic houses.

  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Sangüesa

    The mountains of the Pyrenees and the plains of the Ribera meet in the Central Zone, a transitional area through which the Way of St James runs and home to towns and small villages well worth visiting, such as the town of Sangüesa in the east of Navarre.

    Sangüesa’s architectural landmarks include the Romanesque Church of Santa María, declared a Site of Cultural Interest, with its doorway, which is worth a good explanation from a guide on its own. Then there’s the Palace of Vallesantoro, with its spectacular wooden eaves, the Church of Santiago, the Convent of San Francisco de Asís and the mediaeval Palace of the Prince of Viana.

    Within less than 15 kilometres of Sangüesa, you have the chance to make the most of your trip to take in two more artistic gems, the Castle of Javier and the Monastery of Leyre, and two natural ones, too, the gorges of Lumbier and Arbaiun.

    Download a street map of Sangüesa
  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Elizondo

    In the heart of the Baztan Valley, the town's small palaces and aristocratic homes are a reflection of the prosperity brought by those returning from the Americas.

    Don’t miss the town hall, the Baroque-style Church of Santiago and Txokoto bridge over the Bidasoa River.

    And a couple of recommendations: don’t leave without taking some of the town’s famous almond chocolate home with you, and if you’re a fan of The Baztan Trilogy, don’t miss the themed tour.

    What to see and do in the Baztan Valley
  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Ochagavía

    This picturesque village with cobbled streets and sturdy houses topped with gable and hip roofs sits in an outstanding natural setting in the mountains of Navarre. It’s one of the villages in the Pyrenees that you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit.

    The Anduña River splits the village in two, and you can cross its mediaeval bridge to get from one side to the other. You’re almost bound to do it more than once just to take one of those holiday photos you’ll never forget.

    And Ochagavía is also one of the places from which you can enter one of Europe’s largest and best preserved beech-fir forests: Irati.

  • Navarre’s most beautiful historical quarters

    Zugarramurdi

    This magical village of white farmhouses set in an evergreen landscape is in the north of the Baztan Valley, near the French border.

    Don’t fail to visit its well-known cave and Witch Museum to find out all about the mysteries that have surrounded the village for centuries.

Navarre’s art and monuments

It’s impossible to explain Navarre’s cultural heritage without its majestic architecture, towards which the kings, queens and rulers from every point in history have contributed to offer us a Navarre chock-a-block with fine exponents of military, religious and civil architecture:

Navarre’s art and monuments
  • Navarre’s art and monuments

    Castle of Javier

    The Castle of Javier receives thousands of visitors every year, not only for its artistic value but also because it was the birthplace, in 1506, of Saint Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Navarre and the Missions. That’s also why there’s a popular pilgrimage to the castle every year, known as Javierada, in which thousands of Navarros walk tens of kilometres to honour the saint.

    This medieval fortress, whose origins date back to the end of the 10th century, has got everything: towers, dungeons, machicolations, embrasures and even a drawbridge. And inside you can enjoy dioramas describing key scenes from the life of the saint, a museum telling the history of the castle and the village, and an interesting picture gallery.

     

    More information about the Castle of Javier
  • Navarre’s art and monuments

    Cathedral of Santa María, Pamplona

    The sobriety of the cathedral's Neoclassical façade contrasts with its Gothic interior, the central nave of which houses the beautiful alabaster tomb of Charles III of Navarre and his wife, Eleanor of Castile.

    But the cathedral's real gem is its cloister, which is accessed through two beautiful doors. It’s widely considered one of the most exquisite exponents of Gothic architecture in the world, making it a must for visitors. 

    The best thing to do is to get a guided tour and, if you can, go up the bell tower; the views over the rooftops of the old town are well worth the climb.

     

    More information about Pamplona
  • Navarre’s art and monuments

    Tudela Cathedral

    A Site of Cultural Interest, this Gothic cathedral has three impressive doorways, the best known of which is called the Portada del Juicio (Doorway of the Last Judgement).

    Its Romanesque cloister is one of its hidden treasures, and you should grab the chance to explore it.

     

    Learn more about Tudela
  • Navarre’s art and monuments

    Cerco de Artajona

    If you like city walls, don't miss this place.

    These walls are in Navarre’s Central Zone and have no fewer than nine defensive towers.

    They’ll take your breath away.

     

     

    I want to see more castles in Navarre
  • Navarre’s art and monuments

    Sanctuary of San Miguel de Aralar

    You'll have to drive, cycle or walk up to the overlook where the sanctuary stands, at more than 1,200 metres above sea level.

    Once there, you’ll find yourself standing before over a thousand years of history in the form of a somewhat austere building, but one in which the Romanesque Altarpiece of Aralar makes coming all this way well worth going to the trouble.

     

    More information about the Sanctuary of Aralar
  • Navarre’s art and monuments

    Pamplona city walls

    The city walls of Pamplona have enveloped the old town since the 16th century and are practically intact.

    Don't miss them, because they are also a Site of Cultural Interest which can be enjoyed taking a pleasant walk — of up to 5 kilometres — with wonderful views.

Monasteries of Navarre

  • Monje en la cripta del Monasterio de San Salvador de Leyre Monastery of Leyre

    Monastery of Leyre

    Mysticism and nature accompany this medieval monastery, a true icon of Navarre.

    Currently inhabited by Benedictine monks, its walls contain the tombs of monarchs, a Romanesque crypt, a Gothic vault and the famous Porta Speciosa doorway.

  • Monasterio de Iranzu Monastery of Irantzu

    Monastery of Irantzu

    This magnificent 12th/14th-century Cistercian abbey can be found in the Yerri Valley.

    The Theatine fathers who live there will be delighted to share a word as you admire the monastery's austere but elegant Gothic cloister.

  • Monasterio de Fitero Monastery of Fitero

    Monastery of Fitero

    Fitero was the first Cistercian monastery established on the Iberian peninsula and has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest.

    Its abbey church is one of the order’s most important seats in Europe. Be sure not to miss the rest of the monastery, its renaissance cloister and walls dating from 1185.

  • Vista aérea del monasterio de Iratxe Monasterio de Iratxe

    Monasterio de Iratxe

    Hospital de peregrinos, universidad, hospital de guerra y colegio de religiosos.

    Estas han sido las funciones que ha ido albergando este bello conjunto monumental ubicado junto a Estella-Lizarra, en pleno Camino de Santiago. No te pierdas su iglesia románica (XII), su claustro plateresco y la torre de estilo herreriano.

  • Monjes cantando en la iglesia del Monasterio de la Oliva Monasterio de la Oliva

    Monasterio de la Oliva

    Un oasis de paz construido en los siglos XII y XIII, en el que destacan el claustro, la sala capitular y la iglesia, uno de los ejemplos más genuinos del arte cisterciense de España.

    Conoce su arte pero también las liturgias cantadas en lengua vernácula por los monjes que lo habitan, y cómo no, los vinos que ellos mismos elaboran.  

Enjoy live culture

In Navarre, we celebrate the musical avant-garde, live music, drama and the performing arts at major venues and in charming little theatres, in historical buildings and in the heart of nature. 

Natural and cultural spaces which have made Navarre a prime location for commercials, series and films. Want to relive the emotion and intrigue of Game of Thrones, the Baztan Trilogy or 3 Caminos? 

Experience culture and cinema in Navarre and visit natural movie sets such as the Bardenas Reales desert, the Baztan Valley and the Way of St James.

Live culture and cinema in Navarre
Enjoy live culture
Historical roads

Historical roads

  • Historical roads

    The Way of St James and its cultural heritage

    The most famous of all roads, the road to Santiago de Compostela, has been swelling every part of Navarre through which it passes with history for hundreds of years.

    Little can be added to what’s already been said about this road. It’s one of the best-known routes in the world, attracting thousands year in, year out, and has for a long time now been a member of the select group of World Heritage sites.

    Those travelling the Way have a very clear objective: to reach Santiago. But as every ending must have a beginning, we invite you to start via Orreaga/Roncesvalles and let yourself be captivated by the culture and history you can find on any of the four branches of the Way.

    Have your phone at the ready, because there’s a lot to photograph on this real must as far as cultural tourism in Navarre is concerned.

     

     

    Take me to the Way of St James
  • Historical roads

    The Ignatian Way, a route that goes against the flow

    To follow in the footsteps of San Ignacio de Loyola on his most famous journey, you have to follow the Way of St James in the opposite direction from that marked by the yellow arrows.

    Because the ultimate destination of this pilgrimage is another holy city, Jerusalem, to which a young Ignatius decided to walk in 1522, crossing paths on his way with numerous pilgrims who wanted to put him on the ‘right track’, the road to Santiago.

    His feat has now been recreated by the Ignatian Way, which follows the path taken by the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, over 650 km in 27 stages from Loyola — Azpeitia, Gipuzkoa — to Manresa in Barcelona.

    On the way, you’ll come across gems like Tudela and the Cortes Castle, to name but a few.

    For sure, a little-known but bright star of cultural tourism in Navarre.

Navarre’s festivals and traditions

In Navarre, culture has no end. It doesn’t matter when you come to visit or if you come with your family, with friends or on your own.

There are all kinds of food, wine and cultural events every year. Shows, exhibitions, concerts...

Festivals and celebrations in towns and villages to honour their patron saints or extol Navarrese idiosyncrasies.

Ver agenda de Navarra
  • San Fermin festival

    A universal fiesta held to honour the saint, but not the only festival in the Kingdom.

  • Holy Week

    With several celebrations declared to be of National Tourist Interest.

  • Folk festivals

    Which highlight everything that makes us who we are: the Tribute of the Three Cows, Shepherds’ Day, Orhipean (festival of Pyrenean traditions)…

  • Gastronomic festivals

    There are hundreds! Virtually every product has its own festival: pepper day, rosé wine day, asparagus day, cheese day.

  • Ancestral carnivals

    In honour of Prince Carnival and Lady Lent.

  • Events and shows

    The billboards of Navarre’s theatres and concert halls are second to none.

Local museums

Maybe when you visit Navarre, you’ll want to discover all the secrets of the history and legends that lie behind the Kingdom. So can you think of a better place to find out all about them than museums?

Local museums
  • Local museums

    Museum of Navarre, Pamplona.

    The former Hospital of Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia houses the Museum of Navarre. Inside you’ll find a huge number of exhibits taking you through each stage of the Community’s history.

    The museum’s most prized possessions include the first-century Roman mosaic of the Triumph of Bacchus, the Romanesque capitals from the old Pamplona cathedral, the Mozarabic Leyre casket and Goya’s portrait of the Marquis of San Adrián.

    There’s also a surprise in store: an old church that now houses some of the most representative works of the Baroque and Renaissance in Navarre.

    More information about the Museum of Navarre
  • Local museums

    University of Navarre Museum, Pamplona.

    The museum exhibits contemporary art by first-rate artists, such as Chillida, Picasso and Tàpies.

    It is also a full-blown culture centre where all kinds of exhibitions, dance performances, film cycles and educational activities are held.

    The building is on the Pamplona campus and was designed by the Navarrese architect Rafael Moneo.

    More information about the University of Navarre Museum
  • Local museums

    Oteiza Museum, Alzuza

    This museum is devoted entirely to Jorge Oteiza, one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century.

    The collection consists of 1,650 sculptures and 2,000 pieces from his experimental laboratory, as well as heaps of drawings and collages.

    This is one of the largest monographic collections of contemporary art you can find and is an absolute luxury for cultural tourists in Navarre.

    The building housing the museum, a large cube in reddish concrete, is the work of one of the artist’s closest friends and collaborators, the Navarrese architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza.

    More information about the Oteiza Museum
  • Local museums

    Carlism Museum, Estella-Lizarra

    The aim of this museum is very clear: to preserve and promote the history of Carlism in Navarre and Spain, all from the perspective of the 19th and 20th centuries.

    The museum is in the Governor’s Palace, which has housed much of the historical collection that the Carlist Party entrusted to the Government of Navarre since 2000.

    The collection occupies two floors: the first contains exhibits showing different angles on Carlism from its origins to 1977.

    The second floor is home to the temporary exhibition, which changes every year.

    More information about the Carlism Museum

Navarre’s archaeological museums

Three opportunities to discover the Kingdom’s past through what remains of it today:

  • Museo Villa de las Musas, Arellano Villa de Arellano Museum

    Villa de Arellano Museum

    The museum exhibits the remains of the ancient villa of Aurelianum (1st-5th centuries), from which the municipality takes its name.

  • Museo Arqueológico de Andelos Archaeological Museum of Andelos

    Archaeological Museum of Andelos

    A wonderful way to visit the ancient Roman Empire.

  • Museo de las Eretas, Berbinzana Museum of Las Eretas

    Museum of Las Eretas

    Las Eretas was a fortified settlement built between the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. Discovered in 1991, it’s now a Site of Cultural Interest.

Other museums in Navarre
Other museums in Navarre

Other museums in Navarre

Don’t miss a thing, because there’s much more culture in Navarre:

  • Tudela Museum, located in the cathedral.
  • The Truffle Museum in Metauten.
  • The Witch Museum in Zugarramurdi.
  • Orreaga/Roncesvalles Museum.
  • The Birthplace of Santiago Ramón y Cajal in Petilla de Aragon.
  • The Julián Gayarre House-Museum in Roncal.
  • The Navarre Wine and Vine Museum in Olite.
  • The Fortifications Centre in Pamplona.
  • Ultreia, Way of St James Interpretation Centre in Pamplona.
  • The Beekeeping Museum in Eltso.
  • The Muñoz Sola Museum in Tudela.
  • The Gustavo de Maeztu Museum in Estella-Lizarra.

Rural Sports in Navarre

Herri Kirolak — rural sports — have their origin in the work traditionally performed on farms and on the mountainsides.

The centuries-old tradition of holding these sports events now attracts crowds all over the Kingdom, gathering to enjoy the championships and competitions that take place all year round.

Many local festivals also include exhibitions of rural sports, so take a look at the programme and don’t miss them.

  • Aizkolaris

    Wood chopping

  • Escultura en el Museo Peru-Harri, Leitza

    Stone lifting

  • Sokatira

    Sokatira (tug of war)

Peru-Harri Museum

Or to put it another way, the Stone Museum. This is a great way to find out all about Basque rural sports, all from one of the greatest “stone lifters” ever: Iñaki Perurena.

It’s in Leitza, and listen out! Because Iñaki will treat you to some ear-piercing irrintzis (something like the Basque yodel) during the tour.

More information about Peru-Harri
Peru-Harri Museum

In a nutshell, cultural tourism in Navarre is what you get when an exceptional historical legacy meets local pride in showing visitors all the best this land has to offer.

And the great thing is that there's still much more for you to see and do:

More ideas for your visit to Navarre

  • Pincho de verduras Good food

    Good food

    Treat your palate to authentic Navarrese cuisine. All washed down, of course, with local wine.

  • Tres personas flotan en las aguas del Balneario de Elgorriaga Wellness and wellbeing

    Wellness and wellbeing

    A walk, breathing in the fresh air, a spa session or a good massage are some of the best ways to recharge your batteries in Navarre.

  • Escalera del Palacio del Marqués de Huarte, Tudela City break

    City break

    A weekend goes a long way when you're in Navarre. Culture and pintxos join forces to bring you the best of urban leisure.