Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Najera 2

After a longish siesta in my hotel Duques de Najarra, I was pretty hungry, but I knew it was no use looking for dinner before 7.30 pm. The hotel recommended a place just round the corner, El Buen Yantar, which turned out to be the No 1 restaurant on Tripadvisor. It was a homely place, not grand at all, with a friendly young waiter. I ordered Stuffed Red Peppers, a speciality described in a newspaper article on the wall. The chocolate dessert was luscious, a bit like tiramisu. Also dining there was a Belgian woman who is a volunteer hospitaller at the Municipal Albergue. She is one of 3 and they all get time off on a rota and a meal paid for. There is no cooking done in their Albergue because there are 80 beds!

Today is a "day of rest" for me because I'm not going anywhere! I've been so lucky with the weather on this trip: it's warm and sunny as I sit having a coffee in the main square. I've just visited the main monument in Najera: the Monastery of Santa Maria La Real. This was founded in 1044 by King Garcia, who was out hunting one day and observed a dove fly into a cave in the sandstone cliffs. He followed it in and saw the Virgin Mary with a vase of fresh lilies. This cave is still to be seen inside the church.

The  Monastery is known for its beautiful cloister, with intricate carved filigree stonework in the arches. In the adjoining church are the tombs of the royal family of Navarre, the main one being Queen Bianca, who died in childbirth at the age of 18 in 1156. The scenes carved around the sarcophagus include the queen on her deathbed, with an angel above, and the grieving king supported by his courtiers.

Another treasure of this church is the high choir, with carved wooden choir stalls from the 16th century. It is closed to the public unless on a group tour.

Next on the agenda was a visit to the local museum.  The building was formerly the pharmacy for the monastery and later became a prison.  There are two wooden doors on which prisoners carved their names. The artefacts on display are similar to those in Logrono and there is a good explanation of the distribution of Terra Sigillata ware throughout Spain and further afield.  Some has even been found in London.

Choc cake 

Red sandstone cliffs with caves at the back of the town

These pilgrims are father and son from Italy, travelling in a cart made from a cut down Fiat 500. They do about 10 kms a day and camp out with their donkey!

Santa Maria Real cloister 

Puerta de Los Reyes

Statue of virgin in the original cave

Royal tombs

Queen Bianca's sarcophagus 

The high choir 

Man charring red peppers

The church taken from outside the museum

Prison door

Lunch spot

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