Sangüesa

“The City That Never Failed”

This city is one of the main heritage sites in Navarre. Its motto and current coat of arms were won by its inhabitants in 1312 after defeating the Aragonese in a decisive battle. It is also a place of passage on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. Discover with us the history and the best things to see in Sangüesa.

Planning Your Visit to Sangüesa

The tour of the places to see in Sangüesa can be done in one morning. One of its most outstanding points are the roofs of the palaces on Calle Mayor and Alfonso el Batallador. They are impressive baroque coffered ceilings. The extraordinary Church of Santa María la Real is also a must. In addition, the pilgrims and Jacobean references truffle the place.

There are numerous options to expand the getaway. For example, hiking enthusiasts have at their disposal the park of the Foz de Lumbier and Arbayún. If you prefer bird watching nearby, there is the Pitillas lagoon. Regarding the religious heritage, there are two important places of pilgrimage: the castle of Javier and the Monastery of Leyre. In Aragon awaits the medieval Sos del Rey Católico. The gastronomic and hotel offer is gathered in the pages about sleeping and eating in Sangüesa.

Want to Get to Know This Place?

The original town, commonly known as “Sangüesa la Vieja” (“Old Sangüesa”), was located in present-day Rocaforte. There is evidence that it has been populated since the time of the Romans. One of the first kings of Pamplona, Sancho Garcés I, was born in Sangüesa in the year 825. In the 10th century, the city played a crucial role as a defensive front against the Moors as they advanced towards the Kingdom of Pamplona.

In 1090, King Sancho Ramírez granted Sangüesa the Fuero of Jaca in order to stimulate the repopulation of the city. As a result, it became an important stop along the Camino de Santiago. Due to the prosperity generated by this development and the physical impossibility of expanding the city, in 1222 Alfonso I the Warrior ordered that the city be moved to its present-day location. Later, when Theobald II divided Navarre into merindades, Sangüesa was made the capital of one of these new administrative divisions.

Ever since then, the history of Sangüesa has remained connected to its role in the Camino de Santiago as well as its location on the border between the kingdoms of Navarre and Aragon. In 1503, King Henry II, the last king of Navarre before its annexation by the Crown of Castile, was born in Sangüesa; under his reign it obtained the title of city.

fotografia antigua Portal de Carajeas en Sangüesa
Portal de Carajeas

The 18th century ushered in dark times for Sangüesa. During the War of the Spanish Succession, the city was occupied and plundered by the troops of Archduke Charles of Austria. In 1787, the city was hit by its most devastating flood ever after the Yesa Bridge broke and the Aragon River rose dramatically. Over 500 people died as a result of the flood.

Sangüesa was once again ravaged during the Peninsular War, in which it was the stage of several battles involving the troops of Espoz y Mina. Today Sangüesa is a tourist destination whose main attractions are its wealth of monuments and its status as a stop on the Camino de Santiago.

Sangüesa is one of the main historical cities in Navarre. The city is found on the left bank of the Aragon River and is full of mansions, feudal manor houses, churches, and convents that make it an appealing tourist destination.

The city’s crown jewel is the Church of Santa María la Real, a Romanesque building with Gothic additions dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. Its façade is one of the most significant examples of the Navarrese Romanesque style. The church’s magnificent décor includes religious artwork and several reliefs of people and animals. In 1131, Alfonso I the Warrior donated the church to the Order of Saint John. It has been declared a National Monument.

El Salvador Church was built in the 13th century. Its façade depicts Judgment Day and its portico was built in the 16th century to protect the façade. Built in the Romanesque style, with later Gothic additions, the Church of Santiago is embedded in a section of the old defensive wall that surrounded the city. It has the appearance of a fortress, and its large tower with battlements stands out. Inside the church houses a 14th-century stone sculpture of Saint James the Pilgrim.

Santa Maria la Real sanguesa
Santa Maria la Real. Image provided by the "Reyno de Navarra" Tourism Archive

On the outskirts of Sangüesa, Saint Francis of Assisi Convent is a must-see. Its construction is attributed to the saint on his return from Santiago de Compostela in 1213. The convent has a noteworthy cloister and Gothic church.

When it comes to civil architecture, the Town Hall was built in 1570, making it one of the oldest city halls in all of Navarre. The ground floor has a colonnade with diminished arches. Another one of the city’s most important buildings is the Ongay-Vallesantoro Mansion, a 17th-century Baroque building whose ground floor is made of stone, the rest of the building being made of brick. It is notable for its main façade, featuring a family crest and indiano elements attributed to a former viceroy of New Spain. Its wooden roof has several corbels in the shape of animals.

Another important building is the Palace of the Prince of Viana, built in the 13th century as a royal residence. The palace is framed by two towers and throughout history it has hosted several meetings of the royal court. The Íñiguez Abarca Mansion, in the Renaissance style, has a notable gallery of arches on the top floor and a wooden roof. Finally, the Sebastianes Mansion is another of Sangüesa’s most significant monuments. It once belonged to a wealthy family of merchants and royal moneylenders. In 1503, it was the birthplace of Henry II of Albret, Prince of Viana and the last king of Navarre.

Over the Aragon River you can see the famous Iron Bridge (Puente de Hierro), which in 1820 replaced an old medieval bridge dating from the 11th century.

Essentials

Romanico en Navarra portico Santa María la Real en Sangüesa
Arcade of Santa María la Real Church
Iglesia de Santiago en Sangüesa
Church of Santiago

Practical Information

Coordinates

42° 34′ 40″ N, 1° 16′ 57″ W

Distances

Pamplona 46 km, Logroño 128 km, Madrid 414 km

Parking

On Paseo Cantolagua, Calle La Celada, and Calle Magdalena, as well as next to the Church of Santa María la Real

Altitude

404 m

Population

5080  (2013)

San Sebastián (January 20), San Patronales (September 11-17)

Carnival, Feast of Corpus Christi

Elena Carlos: handmade bags, clothing, and accessories. Miel Baigorri: homemade honey. Nicolas Navallas: brass and lead


About the author

Other news of interest
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Nacedero del Urederra is one of the most fascinating spots in the Urbasa mountain Más información
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Navarre is a community filled with heritage treasures. Architecture, sculpture and painting have developed through Más información
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="The Palace Court of Charles III the Noble" font_container="tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23000000" google_fonts="font_family:PT%20Sans%20Narrow%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal"][vc_column_text]Olite holds one of the Más información
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="On the Banks of the Border River" font_container="tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23000000" google_fonts="font_family:PT%20Sans%20Narrow%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal"][vc_column_text]On the banks of the Bidasoa Más información
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="The Capital City of La Ribera" font_container="tag:h2|text_align:left|color:%23000000" google_fonts="font_family:PT%20Sans%20Narrow%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:700%20bold%20regular%3A700%3Anormal"][vc_column_text]The second biggest city in Navarre with Más información