Things to Do in Fitero

The Cistercian Order of the Peninsula

The history of this town is deeply linked to that of its monastery. It was the first community founded by the Cistercian Order in the Iberian Peninsula, and it created a strong foundation for the population of Fitero.

Planning your Trip to Fitero

With an urban area that has little preserved, the greatest attraction in Fitero is its important monastery. Its spa is also very popular with visitors. For excursions, it is possible to head north to see the park of the Bárdenas Reales, a good area for tourist activities. You can also make a trip to visit the Riojan town of Alfaro  and the interesting city of Tudela. To learn more about where to stay and what to eat while you are here, we have specific pages for where to sleep and what to eat in Fitero.

Do you want to learn more about this place?

The archaeological remains found in the area give us an idea of the shepherds ‘ villages in the Bronze Age, Celtic rooms, and a small Roman villa called Tudején, built under the shelter of thermal springs.

In 1140, the Castilian king Alfonso VII initiated the founding of the locality of Niencebas (near Alfaro) of the first Cistercian community of the Iberian Peninsula. They were clerics from the French monastery Scala Dei, in Saint Gaudens. Among them was the monk Raimundo, originally from Toledo, who would be elected abbot of the community. In 1152, the Abbot decided to move his monastery to Tudején. Six years later, the Order of Calatrava was founded.

In 1157, the Treaty of Tudején was created between Alfonso VII of Castile and Ramón Berenguer IV, Prince of Aragon and Count of Barcelona. The territorial limits of the Castilian and Aragonese crowns were set on the site, which became known as  Castellón de Fitero because of its frontier character. The monastery belonged to the Crown of Castile until 1373. The history of Fitero began in 1482, when the monastery tried to repopulate the uninhabited population of Tudején, which would cease to exist from there on. The monastery maintained a religious disposition that didn’t disappear until after the disentailment during the nineteenth century, despite the constant attempts of its neighbors to emancipate from the authority of the abbey.

foto antigua Calle Mayor de Fitero
Calle Mayor de Fitero a principios del siglo XX

In 1600, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, a writer and religious figure who became bishop in Mexico and viceroy of New Spain, was born in Fitero. Another important person linked to the history of Fitero is Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. The romantic writer spent long seasons in the locality, enjoying the therapeutic qualities of the thermal baths in Fitero. The geography of Fitero also inspired several of his stories, especially the Cave of the Mora that was turned into a play by the Citeranos in the year 2005.

Although the town lacks the wealth of other localities, there is a lot to see in Fitero. Inside are two buildings of great patrimonial interest. The first is the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Fitero. What can be seen today is the product of successive extensions and remodeling since its consecration in the second half of the 12th century. The main attraction is the Church of Santa Maria. From its floor, you can see the beautiful ambulatory with its five chapels. Inside, there is a magnificent altarpiece from the end of the 16th century, which is the work of the Flemish painter Roland de Mois. There are also several sepulchres, one of which was built by the Order of Archbishop Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada (patron of the temple during the 13th century) with the intention (that was never actually carried of) to serving as a burial. The church also has a remarkable Renaissance cloister from the 16th century. The Chapter Room is also worth seeing, with a stunning quadrangular floor space dominated by nine sections of ribbed vaults and columns.

Interior Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Fitero

The thermal Baths of Fitero, are constantly frequented, as it is one of the largest spas in Navarra. The history of its hot springs date back to 2nd century B.C. In 1157, the springs were ‘donated’ to the monastery by the Castilian king Sancho III. Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, a great writer who was chronically ill, bathed in the waters to help his health, and he used these baths to create stories, which would later be published as “The Cave of the Mora and The Miserere.”  The present spa is the result of two thermal ensembles of the locality being joined together in 1909.

Important Information

Coordinates

42° 3′ 29″ N, 1° 51′ 26″ W

Distances

99 km from Pamplona, 87 km from Logroño, 313 km from Madrid

Parking

In the Paseo de San Raimundo

Altitude

421 m

Inhabitants

2,123 (2013)

San Raimundo Abad (March 15th), Virgen de la Barda (the Sunday following September 8th)

Celebration of the Empanada (the eve of Ascension Day), Rallye Villa of Fitero (September)

Handcrafted Wall of Jesus, Riberas del Alhama Winery,  Wineries of Rafael Reverte (Ribera Baja)

Other nearby destinations

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