Itinerary Pamplona - Puente la Reina
The fourth stage of the French Way is characterised by our climb to the top of Alto del Perdón which, after the O Cebreiro ascent, is perhaps the second hardest of the entire French Way. Get ready for a day with a long, but bearable climb and a steep descent.
Pamplona (Km. 0). Beginning of stage
Practical tips for this section: Our exit from Pamplona may seem confusing, so pay attention to the signs and follow our itinerary so you don’t get lost. If you ask the locals for the route, they may give you contradictory directions, since there are two ways to leave the city: the official way, and the historical way. Buen Camino!
Heading downhill by the famous “Dead Man’s Curve” of the San Fermín festival, which runs from Curia street to Mercaderes street, we reach the Consistorial square, where the City Council is located. We continue along San Saturnino street and then cross the main street (Calle Mayor).
After crossing the crosswalk, we reach Av. del Ejército avenue and enter the beautiful Vuelta del Castillo park. Following the markings for the Camino, we leave the green area to get onto Fuente del Hierro street, which crosses Sancho el Fuerte avenue and heads down to the University of Navarra.
From here, we cross the Acella bridge that goes over the Sadar River (km 3). After two kilometres on a walkway, we reach Cizur Menor.
Cizur Menor (Km. 5)
Practical tips for this section: This is the beginning of a long climb, so take your time. And don’t forget to learn about the legend of the Reniega fountain, which we’ll pass in the last part of our ascent. Buen Camino!
At the entrance to Cizur Menor, on the left, we find the church of San Miguel, and on the right, a little further away and up some stairs, the hermitage of San Emeterio y San Celedonio. We leave the village passing by single-family homes to enter an environment characterised by grain fields.
We begin our uphill climb and slowly gain altitude. On the right of the trail, we find an old abandoned manor (km 9). Here we’ll find a small pool of water, the palace and the church. We continue climbing for a couple of kilometres until reaching Zariquiegui (km 11).
At the entrance to this small town, we are welcomed by the huge geometric temple of San Andrés. Surrounded by a few well-decorated houses, we start off on the last part of the ascent. We get off the path onto a trail that runs between hawthorn and boxwood shrubs, which will lead us to the fountain of Gambellacos, popularly known as the Reniega.
Alto del Perdón (Km. 13,4)
Practical tips for this section: Once you’ve reached the top of Alto del Perdón (Mount of Forgiveness), you can find a vendor here between April 1st and October 31st, where you can buy drinks and some food before heading down. The descent from the peak is complicated due to the steepness of the hill and the many loose stones. Pay attention to where you’re stepping. Buen Camino!
After the Reniega fountain, we just have one final push before reaching the top of the Sierra del Perdón mountain. From here, the French Way offers us beautiful panoramic views of the mountains, with wind turbines on several of its peaks, grain fields and many sunflowers. Here we will also find the Monument to the Pilgrim, the work of Vicente Galbete, which is made out of sheet metal and shows the Camino de Santiago’s evolution throughout history.
Once we’ve gotten our breath back after the long climb, we start another long descent on an uncomfortable stone path surrounded by kermes oaks. The next urban area we’ll encounter will be Uterga (km 16.8), where we can visit the church of La Asunción. Following the path for close to three kilometres, we finally reach Muruzábal.
Muruzábal (Km. 19,5)
Practical tips for this section: You’re almost at the end of the stage, take the opportunity to visit the charming town of Obanos. Buen Camino!
In this small town, we continue along Esteba Pérez de Tafalla street, where we find the parish of San Esteban and the Baroque palace of Muruzábal, which has been converted into a winery.
By taking a small detour from the Jacobean path, we can also visit the hermitage of Eunate. To do so, turn left on Mayor street or Jardín street. When you get to the palace, continue straight on a well-marked path. From there you can continue your journey by following the Aragonese Way to Obanos.
If you don’t take the detour to visit the hermitage of Eunate, after a slight hill, we arrive at Obanos. In this town’s main square, next to the church of San Juan Bautista, we cross paths with pilgrims who are coming from Roncesvalles and Somport. We pass through the pointed arch of the Obanos gateway and head down to the road. We cross it carefully and continue to the valley of the Robo River to reach the entrance to Puente la Reina.
Puente la Reina (Km. 24). Final de etapa
Practical tips for this section: In this charming town, you will find all kinds of services. And don’t forget to learn about the origin of Puente la Reina. See you tomorrow!
The entrance to Puente la Reina is living proof of this town’s strong relationship with Camino de Santiago. Just before the entrance to the town, at the crossroads between the old road to Pamplona and the road to Campanas, we find the Pilgrim Statue.
Then we will cross the bridge that will take us to Puente la Reina, which was built with the main objective of allowing pilgrims to cross the Arga River. A strange construction with two towers will welcome us to the town.
Once in Puente la Reina, we can relax, explore its medieval passages and enjoy the church of Santiago, the church of the Crucifix, and the church of San Pedro. Not to mention the visit to the main square and the Casa de los Cubiertos (currently home to the Town Hall), as well as the convent of Los Trinitarios and the convent of the Comendadoras de Sancti Spiritus. We have completed today’s stage and it is now time to regain our strength for tomorrow.
What to do stage Pamplona - Puente la Reina
In this fourth stage of the French Way, we will encounter numerous churches and hermitages. Below, you can find detailed information about each one, as well as other points of interest on the route.
Cizur Menor is a town belonging to the municipality of Céndea de Cizur, which is located on the outskirts of Pamplona. Approximately 2,200 people live here.
Given its proximity to the city of Pamplona, it is mainly a residential area for those who want to escape the fast pace of the city. In this town, we can find the church of San Miguel and the hermitage of San Emeterio y San Celedonio. It is famous for its grill houses.
Church of San Miguel
The church of San Miguel is located in Cizur Menor, on the outskirts of Pamplona. It is a Romanesque temple built in the 12th century that was formerly part of a Sanjuanista monastery, which was ceded to the knights of the Order of Malta in 1998, although at present it is a pilgrim shelter.
The church was restored in 1989. It consists of a single nave, a semi-circular apse, covered by a vault with four spheres. The three windows that face the exterior are bell-shaped and are formed by semi-circular arches.
The nave is divided into four sections over which a barrel vault rises, supported by transverse ribs. There are two entranceways, a door to the south formed by three rounded archivolts and decorated with plant motifs; and another door to the north, attached to a tower/fortification with embrasures and battlements.
Church of San Emeterio y San Celedonio
The hermitage of San Emeterio y San Celedonio was built in the 12th century in a Romanesque style, however it has undergone several subsequent restorations. The building has a brick portico with semi-circular arches.
It features a bell tower that was incorporated in the 16th century. This element is made of stone, housing the bells up top, whose structure is crowned with a cross.
Mass timetable: Every day. From Monday to Friday (7:30 pm), Sundays and holidays (11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm).
Zariquiegui is a small town with just under four square kilometres, belonging to the municipality of La Céndea de Cizur, with less than 200 inhabitants.
Its name comes from the Basque word “zarrika” meaning “willow”, and the ending “egi”, which means “place” or “hill”, which translates as “the place or hill of willows”.
In this small town, you can visit the church of San Andrés.
Church of San Andrés
The church of San Andrés is located in Zariquiegui, right on the French Way. The temple, in a Romanesque style, was originally built during the 12th century.
Of its original construction, only the south façade remains, although it has undergone numerous restorations. Here we can point out the buttresses and the archivolts on the façade that rest on simple columns.
Mass is held on Sundays at 11:30 am.
The Gambellacos fountain is located between Zariquiegui and Uterga, right before reaching the top of Alto de Perdón. It is better known as the “La Reniega” fountain, given the magical religious history that surrounds it.
Legend has it that in this very same place, the Devil, disguised as a handsome young man, encountered a thirsty pilgrim who was climbing to the top of Alto del Perdón in the middle of summer. The Devil offered the tired man fresh water in return for renouncing his faith in God, but the pilgrim rejected his offer.
Upon his refusal, the Devil tempted him once again, on this occasion asking him to renounce the Virgin Mary. An offer that the pilgrim rejected once again. The stubborn Devil didn’t give up and returned to make another offer to the thirsty pilgrim, this time asking him to renounce the apostle James. To which the pilgrim again said no.
The now very weak pilgrim, exhausted from the arduous climb and the high temperatures, prayed for help. At that moment, the Devil disappeared in a cloud of sulphur and, in his place, the Apostle St. James appeared dressed in pilgrim clothes. The Saint guided the pilgrim to a hidden fountain with crystal-clear water and offered him water out of his own scallop shell.
In addition to this story, they say that other miraculous events have occurred in this place thanks to the Virgin of Mercy, who has helped peasants in the area and has healed pilgrims who were severely ill.
The municipality of Uterga has a little over 150 inhabitants and covers an area of nine square kilometres. In this small town you can visit the church of La Asunción.
Some of the illustrious people to come from this town include the abbot Juan de Beriain (1566-1633) who wrote the “The Christian Doctrine” in 1626 and other religious texts.
Church of la Asunción
The church of La Asunción is located in Uterga, right at the foot of the Camino de Santiago. This temple, which is currently surrounded by olive trees, was built in the 16th century on a stone structure.
Other elements were added later on, such as a square tower that ends with a bell tower that has two semi-circular arches where the bells are found, which was added in the 17th century. The portico on the entrance, in which images from Jesus’ childhood are shown, is from the 19th century.
The temple consists of a single nave over which a ribbed vault is raised. Inside, we can find two side chapels, a neoclassical altarpiece and a carving of Christ, dating back to the 16th century.
Monument to the Pilgrim - Alto del Perdón
This set of figures made of sheet metal is located at the top of Alto del Perdón, 770 metres above sea level, and was commissioned by the company EHN and the Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago in 1996. The work was designed by Vicente Galbete.
The sculpture depicts a group of pilgrims from different eras marching towards Santiago de Compostela, accompanied by mules. The sculpture is placed in a strategic spot from where you can look out over the first wind field in the Community of Navarre. It includes the engraved text: Donde se cruza el camino del viento con las estrellas, which translates into English as where the path of the wind crosses that of the stars.
The municipality of Muruzábal has an area of 6 square kilometres and has close to 250 inhabitants. In this small town you can visit the churches of San Esteban and Santa María de Eunate, as well as the Muruzábal Palace, which has been turned into wineries.
Parish Church of San Esteban
The church of San Esteban is located next to the Camino de Santiago route that passes through Muruzábal. It represents a transitional time, with a mix between the Gothic and Baroque styles, and was built during the 17th century.
The façade of the parish is composed of three arcades, with a doorway decorated with floral capitals. On the outside, there is a square tower that ends in a cross.
Inside is the altarpiece of Santos Juanes, which dates back to the late 15th or early 16th century, and various statues from the 14th and 16th century.
Church of Santa María de Eunate
The church of Santa María de Eunate is located in the town of Muruzábal. Its construction dates back to 1170 and was built in a Romanesque style. It is listed as a Spanish National Monument given its historical and artistic importance. In its origins, the church was a cemetery for pilgrims, as indicated by the graves that have been found with the typical Camino de Santiago shell.
The building is surrounded by galleries formed by 33 arches that end in ornate capitals. It has a nave over which a semi-circular apse rises. The entire building was made out of stone and covered with a ribbed octagonal vault.
The Muruzábal Palace was built at the beginning of the 18th century in a Baroque style. It was originally the residence of the Pérez de Rada family. Currently, the building houses the Palacio de Muruzábal wineries.
These wineries bottle their own wine following a long-standing oenological tradition that has remained intact throughout history. The winery’s facilities revolve around a square patio, in which you can find a stone well.
The winery also houses an exhibition of traditional instruments that were used for wine production, such as the cobblestone entrance, the old tanks that were used to prepare the must, or the ancient hand press.
The town of Obanos is a beautiful urban centre, characterised by its beautiful streets and houses. The village has varied architecture with an especially prominent Gothic style. The constructions are mainly made in stonework and brick, of which we can highlight the houses of Don Fidel, Zabelegui, Tximonco and Muzquiz.
The town of Obanos is relevant to the Camino de Santiago because it is the meeting point for pilgrims coming from Roncesvalles (who are following the French Way) and those coming from Somport. In the centre of the Fueros de Obanos square, next to the church of San Juan Bautista, both routes come together.
However, some pilgrims decide to turn when they reach the road and thus dodge the town, heading directly to Puente la Reina. As a result, even though the official signage sends pilgrims through Obanos, some people debate whether both routes meet up in this charming town or in Puente la Reina.
The municipality has an area of 20 square kilometres and a population of just over 900 inhabitants.
Church of San Juan Bautista
The church of San Juan Bautista is located in Obanos and was built in 1912, on a previous Gothic building. Of the original temple, only the façade from the 14th century and the tower remain. It was restored in 2007.
Inside you can find a baptismal font, inherited from the previous construction, and a 17th century altarpiece. You can also see a carving of the Virgen of Arnotegui, in the sacristy room.
Puente la Reina
The town of Puente la Reina receives its name due to the characteristic Romanesque bridge at its entrance. It was the Navarran Queen in the 11th century who ordered the bridge to be built so that pilgrims could cross the Arga River. The bridge is what gives the town its name, and not the other way around.
The structure of the bridge consists of seven arches, one of which is underground. On the north side of the bridge, one of the most beautiful areas in the region is tucked away.
After crossing the bridge, the town has another emblematic building: two towers that were once part of the old wall that protected the municipality in the Middle Ages. At present, the towers mark the entrance to the municipality of Puente la Reina.
Another interesting element in this small town are the belenas, narrow underground passageways connecting the long and narrow streets of Puente la Reina or the interior courtyards. Some are for public use and others are private. All have a lot of charm and a strong medieval air, but the most emblematic passageway is just a few metres after the main square, on the right.
The municipality has an area of 40 square kilometres and just under 3,000 residents.
Church of the Crucifix
The church of the Crucifix, known originally as Santa María de los Huertos, is located in Puente la Reina. Its construction dates back to the late 12th century and its structure is connected to the convent of San Juan by a porch.
It consists of two naves. One main nave in a Romanesque style and a second in a Gothic style that was added in the 14th century. The façade is decorated with different motifs.
Inside, you can find a carving of the crucified Jesus Christ.
Hours: Open every day. From Monday to Friday (from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm), Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm). Mass is held on Sundays and holidays (11:00 am).
Church of Santiago
The church of Santiago is located on the main street (Calle Mayor) in Puente la Reina and is considered to be the town’s parish church. It was built in the late 12th century but its current appearance is the result of a renovation in the 16th century.
From its structure, we can point out its huge tower, which is impossible to miss as you walk along the main street, as it seems to practically touch the sky.
Inside you can find the carving of Santiago Belza, in a Gothic style, and various elements from the 18th century such as the altarpieces, canvases and other ornamental details.
Hours: Open every day. From Monday to Saturday (from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm) and Sundays (from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm).
Convent of Los Trinitarios
The convent of Los Trinitarios is located in Puente la Reina, in front of the church of Santiago. The building dates back to the 13th century, but was enlarged during the 16th century and restored in the 18th.
On its façade, you can see various decorative details from the original building. At present, the building is private property, so you cannot visit its interior.
Plaza Mayor and Casa de los Cubiertos
The Plaza Mayor (main square) in Puente la Reina is called Plaza Julián Mena. This space dates back to the 17th century and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all of the Navarre region.
The Casa de los Cubiertos is located in this square. A building that has a gallery composed of several porticoed arches, which is currently home to the Town Hall.
Church of San Pedro
The church of San Pedro is located in Puente la Reina, on the other side of the bridge and the parish church. The temple was built in the 16th century but has undergone numerous restorations.
Highlights include the tower with its peculiar pink colour, where the bell is located.
Hours: Open every day. From Monday to Sunday (from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm).
Convent of the Comendadoras del Sancti Spiritus
The convent of the Comendadoras del Sancti Spiritus is located in Puente la Reina and dates back to the 13th century. The temple was arranged to be built by the religious order that occupied it.
Inside, we can point out the main altarpiece, created in a Baroque style and the work of Francisco Nicolás Pejón. There are also several columns with the images of saints, such as Saint John the Baptist and Saint Jerome.