BURIED BEAUTY OF NAVARRE
Navarre is a land of contained beauty. Its towering forests invite you to stroll and its Romanesque churches to, but they do not overwhelm the visitor. Its wonders are enjoyed with time and its sly beauty has to be discovered calmly.
Four of these provincial wonders are protected from visitor's eyes, hiding buried, sunk under churches. These are the Romanesque crypts of Navarre, four of the eight in the whole peninsula. For a year the Baja Montaña association has organised a tour of these four milestones of Roman Navarre. "People already knew them, but missed a continuity, a structured route", they say from the association while recognizing that the number of visitors has risen.
Leire monastery, the church of St. Martin de Tours, the church of San Salvador de Gallipienzo and the Church of San Martin de Orísoain. They all hide a hole under their altars that could serve as a mausoleum or refuge. "They were created at a time when the kingdom of Navarre bordered with the Muslims" explains the Baja Montaña association guide, "so they were also fortresses."
The crypt of the monastery of Leire is the oldest of all. It was built around 900 but its conservation seems to suggest that it is much more modern. The darkness and the silence into which it has been submerged for more than a millennium is palpable and transports the visitor to the Middle Ages. Its small columns speak of old tales of knights and ancient kings. But they do so without pushing, inviting visitors to discover the wonders of this peaceful land for themselves.
Photos: (1,2) Roberto Chavarri, (3) Monasterio de Leire
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