Thursday, May 08, 2008

Albiztur and Ordizia

Time to read about what Nabarra offers in the way of tourist destinations. This information comes to us thanks to EITb:


The inland road

Way of St. James in the Basque Country: Albiztur and Ordizia


The slopes of Murumendi, one of the most emblematic mythological mountains in Gipuzkoa, were a haven to Mari, capable of creating devastating storms as she crossed the sky in the shape of a ball of fire.

Pilgrims preferring the floor of the valley to the slopes of the hills, would cross through Alegia –with its own hospital, Ikaztegieta, Legorreta and Itsasondo, all of which could have originated around the Road to Santiago. But it would seem that most pilgrims chose to follow the summits and Tolosa.

Heading inland from the left banks of the River Oria, on a mountain track parallel to the present N-1, they were well cared for in the churches and hermitages dotted throughout a part of the country inhabited since the remotest of times, judging by the archaeological remains found in an area now rarely visited. The Santa Marina neighbourhood of Albiztur, for example, had a hospital for pilgrims founded in 1587 by Gracia de Goikoetxea next to the church of Santa Marina de Argisain, with a Romanesque facade helping us to imagine the first edifice that must have stood on the same site.

Not far from here is Aldaba, a neighbourhood of Tolosa also entered by the area around Alegia, famous for its church of San Miguel Arcángel. The present building, which stands over the former, was built in 1962, and is the work of Pérez de San Román. It is a small rectangular construction in stone and concrete, with an apse comprising a huge window giving a complete view of Aralar. This very special temple is well worth a visit.

This mountain trail takes us to the slopes of Murumendi, one of the most emblematic mythological mountains in Gipuzkoa, and the geographical centre of the Territory, the summits of which were a haven to various spirits and the undeniable lady of the area, Mari, capable of creating devastating storms as she crossed the sky in the shape of a ball of fire.

Travellers choosing to make their way down to Ordizia would come to a 13th century fortified village built according to a layout conceived by Alfonso X, with its four entrance doors and own hospital. Ordizia is also the birthplace of the famous navigator and cosmographer, Fray Andrés de Urdaneta (1568-1608), who discovered the fastest route between Asia and America. Remains of the walls were found at the base of the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción which, although dating from the 16th century, stands over an earlier 13th century construction. Also interesting is the 17th century Barrena House, presently used as the local Cultural Centre, and the 19th century Greeco-Romanesque Town Hall, before which is the square where the famous Wednesday market takes place.

Those preferring to continue on their way without descending into the towns would come to the traditional Templar enclaves of Arriarán and Salvatore. A place of passage for all kinds of caravans, this area began falling into decline when the routes crossing it lost importance in favour of others. Arriarán has recently come back into the news on the inauguration of a dam converted into a sculpture by Nestor Baserretxea, although the church of San Pedro is well worth a visit for its 17th century high altar and the stone arcade supporting the choir.

This area was nevertheless far more important in days gone by. The Arriarán and Yarza lineages were the most noteworthy in Beasain which, due to the fact that it wasn’t granted the title of town until the 18th century, was united to Ordizia for defensive reasons during centuries.

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