Things to see and do - Roncesvalles
The Way of St James :
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The Way of St James
The Way of St JamesBy car, 844 km, 6 days
Today, as always, whether it's by car or on foot, for religious reasons or simply for pleasure, the Way of St James offers a journey steeped in European history and culture and the opportunity to enjoy an unforgettable experience.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
The complex of monumental buildings in Roncesvalles (founded in the 12C) includes an important hostel where pilgrims where accommodated and comforted, a square-layout funerary chapel that is now Silo de Carlomagno and a collegiate with many relics. The vast buildings have grey walls and blue-tinted zinc roofs.
A few capitals from the portals and cloister remain from the early Romanesque church and are in the Museum of Navarre. Inside the cathedral, in front of the gate that closes the sanctuary, stands the alabaster tomb ordered in 1416 by King Charles III the Noble, founder of the cathedral, for himself and his wife. The 14C and 15C cloister houses tombs and sculptures.
On the spurs of the cliff, the Church stands opposite the Palace of the Kings of Navarre. The building preserves some remarkable parts from the 12C and 13C including the doorway at the top of monumental staircase and the Romanesque cloister.
It was built in the 12C and finished in the 13C by the addition of the octagonal tower, a spire and the splendid south doorway. The latter has such an abundance of sculptures that it is astonishing for the sheer variety of subjects and the richness of their expression.
The third largest in Spain after Seville and Toledo, Burgos cathedral has combined the Flamboyant Gothic style from France and Germany with the exuberance of Spanish decoration. Inside, the numerous works of art on display combine to form a priceless museum of European Gothic sculpture. The most beautiful works include the transept crossing, soaring 54m above the ground, choir stalls, chancel, Constable's Chapel with its magnificent grille, and the side chapels.
Only this church in the centre of the square remains from the famous Benedictine monastery of St Martin. Built in 1066 with large yet finely detailed stone blocks, this church marks an important stage in Romanesque architecture in Castile. Following experiments in Palencia, Jaca and the Basilica of San Isidoro in León, it achieved perfection in its architectural arrangement.
Twenty-five kings and queens of León and many children are buried in this pantheon, which is one of the earliest examples of Romanesque art. This is illustrated by the sturdy columns crowned by capitals decorated with plant motifs reminiscent of Asturian art or beautifully historiated in tribute to Visigothic traditions. The wonderfully preserved 12C frescoes feature an outstanding collection of New Testament themes, as well as scenes from rural life. The treasury on the first floor is a must.
This Modernist interpretation (1889) of a medieval palace is by Gaudi and constructed from local materials: granite from Monte Arenas, brick from Jimenez de Jamuz and slate from Galicia. In the chapel, the building's finest setting, are sculptures, frescoes, stained glass and azulejos by French and Spanish artists who were Gaudi's contemporaries. The palace also has the Museum of the Way (dedicated to the Compostela pilgrim route).
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela dates almost entirely from the period of the 11C to the early 13C, although the so-called Façade do Obradoiro is a richly sculpted Baroque masterpiece. In the narthex is the Pórtico da la Gloria, with its exceptionally beautiful statues. Inside, the huge Romanesque cathedral is still intact and displays the typical features of pilgrimage churches: Latin cross floor plan, vast proportions, triforium, and an ambulatory for pilgrims to move around. The main nave and huge transept, itself also with aisles, are admirable in their blend of simplicity and incomparable majesty.