Already linked to the variants that start from Somport and Roncesvalles/Saint Jean Pied de Port, the French Way to Santiago meets one of its most famous landmarks. It is the Irache wine fountain. Close to the monastery and the winery of the same name, it has been offering pilgrims drinks since 1991. It has two taps, one from which water comes out and another that pours red wine. They are currently in operation from eight in the morning to eight in the evening.
It is located a little more than 3 kilometres from Estella, the usual Jacobean stop, in the municipality of Ayegui. Therefore, it is usually passed by in the morning, on the way to Los Arcos or Torres del Río. It was created as an advertising campaign for Bodegas Irache and was inspired by a passage from the Codex Calixtinus and the legend of San Veremundo. On the one hand, Aymeric Picaud pointed out that these lands gave good “bread and wine”. On the other hand, it is said that the local saint made a fountain of wine to supply the pilgrims.
In its early years, the Irache wine fountain was open 24 hours a day. However, as was to be expected, there were those who took advantage of this. To avoid this, the new timetable was imposed and a sign was put up saying: “To drink without abusing it, we invite you to do so. Every day it is filled with one hundred litres of young, light, perfect wine to keep walking without it going too far. In addition, a webcam allows you to check the place continuously. In this way, if one warns, one can pose for family and friends from anywhere in the world.
The wineries that set up this landmark of the French Way are located next to the famous Iratxe Monastery. We have heard about it since the 8th century. However, it was the aforementioned San Veremundo de Irache who made it a great Jacobean stop. In addition to bringing forth a fountain of wine, other miracles related to the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela are attributed to him. Apparently, the good monk gave food to the pilgrims behind the backs of the rest of the congregation that lived in the monastery. When they caught him in the act, the food was transformed into flowers and wood. Thanks to this he always got away with it.
The beautiful building next to which the Irache wine fountain is located combines various architectural styles. Since 1616 it has served as the Pontifical University. It gained fame and prospered, which did not prevent it from closing at the beginning of the 19th century after a rapid decline. Various ups and downs ended up with the Monastery of Iratxe being abandoned at the end of the last century. It is currently undergoing a complicated process to transform it into a Parador Nacional.
It dominates Montejurra in nature. One of the variants of the road on its way to Los Arcos runs along its slope. Passing through Luquin, it is somewhat harder than the traditional alternative, although it saves half a kilometre. However, it does allow you to see the northern side of this well-known Navarrese mountain. A good incentive to say goodbye to Navarre: whatever path you choose, don’t forget to toast for the apostle at the Irache wine fountain!
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