Day 5 Puente la Reina to Estella

Day 5 Puente la Reina – Estella – 21.7km

Today the Camino follows closely to the N11 and climbs steeply to 450m after leaving Puente la Reina drops back to 400m then climbs again to 500m this time, and finally drops to about 430m entering Estella.  This day is much quieter than the last two now that we are away from Pamplona, most of today is along tracks through farmland and sometimes on the special pilgrims footpaths that is constructed from compacted earth.

After crossing the Pilgrims Bridge leaving Puente la Reina walk down to the next bridge to get the best view and photographs of the most famous bridge along the Camino.

Puente la Reina to Estella mapThere are small villages along the route for coffees and refreshments as required, however this is one of those day where you can easily cover more distance if you want to complete the Camino Frances in less than the 32 days laid out in this guide.

Maneru 4.8km, water, bar, cafe, shop

Albergue Lurgorri, private, 5 Calle Esperanza (bajo), €10, 12 beds, B&B, K, @, Bike, Tel: 686 521 174, Web: Open all year.

Maneru is a village with a population of less than 500, with a small local parish church dedicated to St Peter and the ruins of a Gothic church. Leaving Maneru you pass the cemetery and will see the hill village of Cirauqui in the distance.

Cirauqui 2.7km, water, cafe, shop

The Camino travels to the top of this hill village and then back down again.  Often as I walked I wondered why we did not travel on a direct path.  I found various reasons for this; churches are generally at the highest point in villages and towns and the Camino passes as many of them as possible, (and the original hostels were located within or beside churches), additionally some towns were friendly to pilgrims others were not.

Albergue Maralotx, private, 30 Calle San Román, €11, 32 beds, M€11, V, Bike, Tel: 678 635 208, Open mid March to mid October.

Cirauqui is Basque for viper nest in reference to the rocky hill on which it is built.  The village with a population of about 500 retains much of its enchanting medieval character.  The Church of San Roman, the reason we walk to the top of the village, was originally constructed in the 13th century and remodelled in 1692.  The church has an impressive Gothic multi-lobed main portal.

Leaving Cirauqui the route leads along a stretch of Roman road flanked by cypress trees and over a restored Roman bridge.  I find nothing ties me so closely to the history of the Camino when I imagine that Roman solders and traders walked this very same path.

Just before you reach Lorca you pass over the River Salado by way of a small double arched medieval bridge.  These are Aymeric Picauds words in his Pilgrims Guide regarding this river:

“Take care not to drink the water here, neither yourself nor your horse, for it is a deadly river! On the way to Santiago we came across two Navarrese sitting by the bank, sharping the knives they used to flay pilgrims’ horses which had drunk the water and died.  We asked them if the water was fit to drink and they lyingly replied that it was, whereupon we gave it to our horses to drink.  Two of them dropped dead at once and the Navarrese flayed them there and then”

Lorca 5.7km, water, bar, cafe

Albergue La Bodega del Camino, private, 8 Calle Placeta, €8, 36 beds, B€3,50, M€10, K, W€2, D€3, V, @, Bike, Tel: 948 541 162, 948 541 327, Web: Open April to October.

Albergue de Lorca (José Ramón Echeverría), private, 40 Calle Mayor, €7 (bunk), €10 (double), 14 beds, K, W€3, V, Bar/Restaurant, @, Bike, Tel: 948 541 190, Open April to October.

Lorca is a typical wayside village, not to be confused with the city of the same name in south east Spain. There is a small 12th century Church, San Salvador, which has had modifications.

Between Lorca and Villatuerta you pass the ruins of a pilgrims hostel that was built in 1066 – Hospital de Peregrinos de Arandigoyen.

Villatuerta 4.8km, water, cafe, bar

Albergue La Casa Magica, private, 5 Calle Rebote, €10, 40 beds, K, B, M, W€3, D€3, V, @, Bike, Tel: 948 536 095, Web: Open from Easter to November.

The church of Assumption, the local parish church, dates from the 14th century with a 13 century belfry. Inside the high alter and side chapels are excellent examples of Renaissance and baroque styles.

Estella 3.7km, all services

The main albergue in Estella is on the left just as you enter the old town.  It is welcoming and has good facilities, however it can become very hot and humid during the heat of the summer and I prefer an albergue in the smaller towns sometimes. Estella has a population of about 14,000, and many good restaurants and cafes within 10 minutes walk of the albergue.  The town’s main square is Plaza de los Fueros has many cafes and is a pleasant place to relax weary feet and watch the world walk by.

Hospital de Peregrinos de Estella, municipal, 50 Calle Rúa, €6, 96 beds, W€3, D€2, K, V, Cred, @, Bike, Tel: 948 550 200, Closed from the 19th of December till the 15th of January.

Albergue de ANFAS, association, 7 Calle Cordeleros (bajo), K, W€3, D€3, V, @, Bike, Tel: 639 011 688, 948 554 551, Web: Open May to September.

Albergue San Miguel Archangel, parochial, 18 Mercado Viejo, donation, 36 beds, K, @, W, V, Bike, Tel: 615 451 909, 948 550 431, Open from Easter to November.

Albergue Juvenil Oncineda, municipal, 11 Calle Monasterio de Irache, €10-14, 121 beds, B€5, M€10, W+D €6, V, @, K€1/30mins, Bike, Tel: 948 555 022, 948 55 39 54, Web: Open mid March to October.

Camping Lizzara, Paraje de Ordoiz, s/n, €5,62, Bar/Restaurant, Supermarket, Pool, V, @, Bike, Tel: 948 551 733, Web: Open all year.

Estella was a planned town built on the former village of Lizarra, (Basque for Ash due to the abundance of ash trees around the river Ega).  One of the reasons for Estella being so interesting is the Camino route was changed slightly in 1090 by King Sancho Ramirez who wanted to encourage settlement  in the new town.  I have seen a few changes in the Camino Frances over the last 10 years, more with my research for this book, and sometimes I can wish to walk the original route rather than accept the present.  This illustrates to me how the Camino has always been an evolving path.  Estella is another town that was granted a charter to encourage merchants from France to settle here.  The French district was initially on the left bank where they were granted special privileges, this lasted until Sancho the Wise allowed the local Navarrese population the same privileges and allowed them to live among the French settlers during the 12th century. Each district within the town had its own church and different groups which led to fighting and separate hostels for pilgrims until under Charles V they were all merged into one.

The early history of Estella in many ways reflects Europe as a whole.  The town was formed but then quickly divided itself into three distinct warring areas: San Pedro, San Juan, and San Miguel.  Within the districts the French and Jews lived apart from the native Navarrese. Each district built walls against their neighbours.  In the 12th century the Jewish population was about 10%, one of the five largest in the Navarra region.  By the tax census of 1366 the Jewish population had dropped to 3%, most of the population had been massacred in the 1328 Navarra civil war.  As in the rest of Europe relations between Christian and Jews oscillated wildly.  Throughout Spain in 1391 there were anti-Semitic riots which again largely destroyed much of the local population and then in 1498 Jews were expelled from Spain.  Many did not leave but converted to Christianity.  This has echoes in the 21st century when a Spanish village, Castrillo Matajudios, made the news as they wanted to rename their town.  The village is further along the Camino nearer Burgos, Castrillo Matajudios translates to “Camp Kill Jews”.  On top of local, regional and national wars Estella coped with the black plague decimating the population in 1348, 1362, 1380, 1400, and 1420.

For such a small compact town Estella has an overwhelming amount of sights to see that were built due to the Camino passing through the town.  There is a Tourist Office on Plaza San Martin, 200 metres from the main albergue, they can supply a map of the town.

Next to the tourist office is the 12th century Palace of the Kings it was built by Sancho el Sabio and is an excellent example of Romanesque civil architecture built in the style of the palaces in the French Benedictine area of Cluny.  Although it was built as a palace there is no records to suggest that any monarchs lived here.  Originally the building had one floor, later additional floors were added however they have been completed in a way that creates a harmonious facade. Look up at the capitals to see the beauty of the palace, (capitals are the tops of columns where they meet the load they carry, often they are ornamental and spread out from the column).  One capital has three of the deadly sins, it illustrates sloth using musicians as they distract one from piety or duty with their secular seductive power.  However the most important capital at the time was Roland fighting with the Muslim Ferragut.  The building is now a museum and art gallery.

Most of us know the 7 deadly sins, however this seems like a appropriate time to list the 7 virtues: faith, hope, charity, temperance, prudence, fortitude, and justice.

The Church of San Pedro de la Rua is a 12th century fortified Romanesque church, which was located in the original French area.  Within the church is a fragment of the True Cross and a bone of San Andres.  Legend says that a Greek pilgrims became ill and died in the Hospice of San Nicolas and when he was buried in the cloister the grave glowed.  When the grave was opened the clerics found the fragment of the True Cross, the bone of St Andrew, and the pilgrim’s crosier and gloves – this revealed that he was not a common pilgrim but the bishop of Patras.  Only two of the four side from the cloister remain, however they are works of art.  The Romanesque capitals are highly decorated and worth seeing, each capital depicts four scenes or episodes from a story.  Interestingly St Andrew is featured in eight scenes 100 years before the above bishop brought his shoulder bone to Estella.

The Church of Santo Sepulcro built for the French community by wealthy merchants before 1123.  The founding of the church is a common medieval anti-Semitic legend where a spiteful Jew threw a cross into the river and it stop here and could not be moved to any other place.  The cross has since agreed to be house in the Church of San Pedro de la Rua above.

The Church of San Miguel, half church half castle, controls the eastern approaches to Estella.  St Michael is the Archangel who leads the heavenly armies against the devils armies, therefore most churches dedicated to him are fortress churches protecting a town.

The lesson I take from today and especially Estella is that war is easy and keeping the peace is hard.  I therefore ask myself where am I helping?

Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred  = Credential, Bike = Bike Storage

Please let me know if there are any omissions or errors in the comments below, they will be integrated within the page, or email caminoadventures @



Puente la reina to Estella Elevation Map

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