The medieval town of Olite in the Kingdom of Navarre

by Lorraine Williamson
Olite Palace

NAVARRE – As part of our Around Spain in 90 days series, we are still in the Kingdom of Navarre, but today, we take a wander around the walled medieval town of Olite.

There are many buildings of historical interest in the town such as the Royal Palace of Olite, 12th century San Pedro church, and 13th century Santa Maria church.

Olite Castle

town wallThe palace, often referred to as Olite Castle, was home for Charles III, the Noble, King of Navarre. In the 14th century, he commissioned a new palace to be built next to the original 11th-century palace. Charles III was born in France and was well known for his luxurious lifestyle. This can be seen inside the palace. He also kept exotic animals at the palace including lions and giraffes.

Of the two churches mentioned above, San Pedro is the oldest dating to the 12th century. It is in the town´s opposite corner from the Olite Castle. Whereas the 13th century Santa Maria church is right next to the palace.

The Church of San Pedro

The Church of San Pedro is a Romanesque building renovated in the Baroque style. Furthermore, it is distinguished by a Gothic tower topped by a slender, pointed arrow.

The Church of Santa Maria

Santa Maria ChurchThe Santa Maria Church has a richly decorated door and the main altarpiece painted by Pedro de Aponte. And as the legend goes, the Convent of San Francisco de Olite was founded by San Francisco de Asís in the 13th century during his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

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Medieval Festival

In the second week in August each year, there is a medieval festival each year in town. People come from all over, to see the many artisans, puppeteers, archers, jugglers, and other performers. There is even a tournament where two knights replicate a medieval fight. You can also enjoy some typical food from the Middle Ages.

Wine capital of Navarre

Without a doubt, Olite is the wine capital of Navarre. Its tradition of cultivating wine dates to the Roman era, and it knew many successive golden ages during the residence of Charles III and during the Phylloxera plague that devastated the French vineyards.

On a visit to this area, you can visit vineyards, the wine museum, or enjoy one of the many wine tours. Or perhaps you simply want to relax in a bar and savour the taste.

Bardenas Reales Desert

In our previous article, we mentioned the Bardenas Reales desert. This is only a 20-minute drive from Olite. However, there is much to see and do within this beautiful medieval town.

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