The route from Pamplona is a mixture of countryside and busy roads, and one of the best views that you are ever likely to have of Pamplona. Leaving Pamplona the route is well marked out of the city and takes you across some local parks before heading into a small valley.
The first and easiest climb of today brings you to Cizur Menor a small village and suburb of Pamplona. As you enter the village there is a pharmacy and two cafes on the left hand side, these are the last cafes for quite some time and they are often full of pilgrims having breakfast or lunch.
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5.1km, cafe, water, pharmacy
The 12th Century Church of San Miguel has a fortified tower that was part of the Monastery de las Hospitalarios de San Juan de Jerusalem. The church was restored during the late 20th century after being used for farm storage for more than 100 years. It is in surprisingly good condition considering its recent past.
The order of the Hospitallers who founded the Monastery eventually became known as the Knights of St John of Malta. It seems they were much better at providing aid to pilgrims than fighting wars. In the 11th century they were recognized by Pope Pascal II for their twin mission – to aid pilgrims and fight against the infidels. Shortly thereafter they had to relocate to Acre as they lost ground to the Muslims where they were then known as Hospitallers of St John of Acre. After Acre fell in 1291 they moved to Cyprus and conquered Rhodes in 1309. The Turks re-took Rhodes in 1522 and they moved to Malta, where in the early 19th century Napoleon moved them on. After that, the Order relocated its administrative center to Rome. However, throughout the middle ages, the Order provided support service in Spain to pilgrims.
Shortly after leaving Cizur Menor, you will begin the hardest climb and then descent of the day, however, the views at the top are well worth the effort. You will see the alto in front of you with the windmills along the top – that is where you are going.
The village is half way up Alto de Perdon, there are no shops or cafes but there are two albergues. If you are planning on staying here it is a good idea to bring food from Cizur Menor, though the albergues do serve an evening meal.
Shortly before reaching the top of the hill there is a modern fountain which commemorates the legend Fuente Reniega, the Fountain of Denial. According to the legend an exhausted and thirsty pilgrim was tempted by the devil. The pilgrim of course resisted and was reward by the appearance of the Apostle dressed as a pilgrim who showed him the location of the spring.
The climb up the Alto del Perdon leaves the Atlantic Basin behind and the scenery changes after the decent to mostly crop fields. At the top there are various status of pilgrims from the past. Often there is also an Englishman who spends his summers helping pilgrims. He has been there twice as I pass. He sells cans of soft drinks and gives away tea; he also has some basic medical supplies to help pilgrims suffering from blisters.
The route from the top is dangerous underfoot. The decent is steep, uneven, and is composed of loose gravel and stones. Take it easy; walkers often hurt themselves on downhill’s like this than anywhere else.
The rest is the day is fairly easy and gently downhill through Uterga and Muruzabal, both small towns, though they both have bars.
3.8km, bar, water
Uterga is a medieval town with typical 3 story whitewashed houses with there distinctive red roofs. The Church of La Asuncion was built between the 16th and 18th century, it has Renaissance reliefs depicting a Pilgrim and the life of the Virgin.
2.7km, bar, water
In Muruzabal there is the church of San Esteban which was built between the 14th and 17th century. It contains the Retablo de los Santos Juanes, circa 15th century, this is a masterpiece of Hispano-Flemish art.
Optional Detour 2.8km Eunate Church and Hostel, (closed Mondays)
This detour will add about 2.8km km and take you to the small octagonal church which is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Navarra. The church is built on the plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. At the start of the village where the town hall is turn left and follow the road down behind the village bearing left as you go. As you pass the end of the village the church is visible in the distance. There is also a basic hostel that can accommodate 8 pilgrims.
Obanos is about 2km before Puente la Reina and during the busy times of July and Aug if you can get a bed here grab it. I have stayed in the Albergue here, it is on the main Square as you go into the town, it is well looked after.
2km, all services
Both the Camino Frances and the Camino Aragones pass through Obanos however they do not join until just before Puente la Reina.
The church of San Juan Bautista contains Guillermo’s skull encased in silver. Guillermo a duke in Aquitaine made a pilgrimage with his sister Felicia to Santiago. On the way home his sister expressed her desire to become a hermit in Amocain. Guillermo tried to force her to return to the French court and after her rejection he killed her. He then returned to Santiago to pray and on his second journey home he stopped and stayed in Obanos where it is said he wept for his sister until his death. When his tomb was opened a Santiago medal was found among his bones.
During even years there is a play performed in the main square beside the albergue. The play is called the Mystery of Obanos which is an enactment of the above tragedy and runs for the eight days before 25th July usually on a Saturday to Saturday.
At the beginning of Puente las Reina is a pilgrim statue that marks the convergence of the two Caminos – the Camino Frances and the Camino Aragones from Somport
It is 2.7km to Puente las Reina, where there are all services.
Congratulations on finishing day 4 of the Camino Frances. Spare a thought for Jacques de Troya a French pilgrim. Documents from 1350 indicate that he was hung in Puente la Reina for stealing money, books, and clothes from other pilgrims. Is there anyone nearby that looks like they need some help?