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Estella, the royal Saint James’s way

Estella, the capital of the romanesque navarrese in Spain, was before a small village called Lizarra which was transformed into town at the end of the 11th century due to the creation of the “camino de santiago real” (royal St James’s way) also known as “francés” (french).

From this period, a lot of buildings were built like shops, hotels… including religious constructions. It was said that this religious boom was due by 2 miraculous discoveries:

  • the first one, in 1270, some strange lights appeared inside a pilgrim tomb in the Saint Peter of Rua cloister (San Pedro de la Rúa), once opened, it was found, inside a wooden box, a shoulder blade which was a relic of the apostle Saint Andrew.

  • the second one, in 1805, the king Sancho Ramírez found a picture of the Virgin in the Puy mountain
estella estella estella

So during the 11th and 12th centuries, the cloister was the main attraction of Estella, a town located in the Autonomous Region of Navarre and which is now an important stop for anyone doing the Saint James’s way.

To visit the town, we used the service of a guide which can be found at the tourism office next to the palace of the Navarre Kings, near to the san martin square, in front of the Saint Peter of Rua church. The square has a nicely fountain represented by 4 faces throwing water crowned by a lion sitting on the symbol of the town, a star of 8 arms (representing Estrella) surrounding by a chain (representing Navarre).

estella estella

The guided visit was perfect because the woman has a very great knowledge and since we were only 4 (us and another couple) in the morning, she took her time to show and tell us a lot things about the old district during 2h, until 14h. Once finished, we went to lunch and we took time to visit another section of the town because our next visit was the winery scheduled at 16h30. Again, we were lucky, the owner welcomed only us so we were with him until almost 21h !!! To tell you the truth, we got a special treatment.

estella wine

His winery is located near the Irache monastery, just outside of the town and it is called Pago de Larrainzar. We really enjoyed the visit, the first minutes were the typical things, presentation of the company with video inside a modern building then we went outside where he introduced us his experimentation area, a small field to test different ways to thrive the grape. But the most impressive is in his private domain divided by 2 sections:

  • a wide vineyard producing different grapes for his 2 wines
  • and a forest section hiding wonderful ruins built by his grandparents like a library, a swimming pool...

The next part drove us back to the building where he showed and explained us the different processes to product his wines. The picking of the grape is completely and only done by hands then women select only the good ones for the machine to produce the juice, once done, it is stored inside casks and months after, the wine is bottled and put it in the market.

wine wine

The final part was the degustation of his 2 wines, the entry and high levels with explanation of how to taste them. In fact, he has a 3rd product but only for personal orders (friends, families…) called “a mis amigos” (to my friends). You may wonder why it took us more or less 4h30, well, except the fact that he took his time to explain us everything, during the degustation, we started to talk about his life, our life and life in general, a friendly talking with wines and cheese.

Don’t think that he did that to everyone, only if there are few people, for instance, he told us that during the weekend, there are always a lot of people so no way to do this kind of special guide.

wine wine wine

Time to dinner and for that, we went to the restaurant of our hotel located at the village Galdeano, just 20 minutes from the town. In fact, it is the only restaurant and the meat, that I ordered, was very salty according to my taste, my girlfriend ordered fish and it was very good. May be it was only bad luck, the chief was in bad mood to cook meat !!!

Then we enjoyed a night walk in the garden of the hotel and its stylish living room before to rest in order to be ready for tomorrow, saturday, to end our journey that we started at Logroño and the discovery of Frank Gehry’s work.