Eight kilometres from the monumental town of Sangüesa
and overlooking the frontier with Aragon, the austere Castle of Javier
rises up on a rocky outcrop and offers spectacular views. The Castle's origins date back to the 10th century and it is momentous not only for its interest as a defensive outpost and home of various important families, but above all because it was the birthplace of the patron saint of Navarre, St. Francis Xavier
, in 1506. At present, as well as a tour that takes in all the rooms in the Castle, you have the opportunity to see the numerous valuable works of art and historical documents that it jealously guards.
Turned into a museum in 1986, it houses an outstanding collection of Spanish painting from between the 15th and 20th centuries
, including artists such as Murillo, Claudio Coello, Carreño, Maella, V. Bécquer, Lucas, R. Madrazo and Salaverría, and a collection of Japanese kakemonos from the 19th century featuring scenes from the life of St. Francis Xavier when he was a missionary in Japan. Other noteworthy exhibits include a polychrome alabaster altarpiece of the Adoration of the Magi from the sixteenth century; a Flemish wax effigy of St. Francis Xavier in his death throes from the 18th century, and a carving of the saint dated at 1622. In the chapel of the Torre del Santo Cristo, surrounded by unusual Gothic murals representing the Dance of Death
, there is a Christ figure from the 14th century which, according to legend, bled when St. Francis Xavier was breathing his last in China.