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Church of St. James

Pilgrim's Way to Santiago Accessible
Churches and chapels


Church of St. James - Church of St. James
icono pie de fotoChurch of St. James
Church of St. James - Visita guiada Iglesia de Santiago el Mayor
icono pie de fotoVisita guiada Iglesia de Santiago el Mayor


Church of St. James
From the distance, the immense bell-tower of the Church of Santiago el Mayor rises up. As slender as a lighthouse, it guides pilgrims to Puente la Reina, one of the most interesting spots on the Navarrese section of the Pilgrims' Way to Santiago.

Standing on the main street, the church offers visitors a monumental doorway with a Moorish influence. Its sculptures, worn away by time, invite you to reconstruct in your imagination the biblical tales that were masterfully carved by those medieval artisans.

Inside the church, two Gothic sculptures, the apostle St. James across from St. Bartholomew, scrutinize the curious visitors who admire the high altarpiece with expressions of timeless serenity.

The church of Santiago el Mayor, built in the 12th century and reconstructed in the 16th, rises straight up like a bold and monumental stone arrow, soaring over all the buildings in Puente la Reina, a pilgrims' town par excellence that stands in the Central Zone of Navarre. The church stands in the centre of the narrow Rúa Mayor, along which the Pilgrim's Way runs.

Of the early church of Romanesque origin, some of the outer walls still stand and two of its doorways, one at the end of the church and the other on the Epistle side. The first door, hidden away in a side street, dates from the end of the 12th century. It has a flared semicircular arch, archivolts and columns with capitals adorned with plant motifs.

The second door is much more spectacular. Built at the start of the 13th century, it is noteworthy for its five archivolts decorated with sculptures that have been deeply eroded by time, and its inner lobed arch with a Moorish influence.

If you look hard, you will be able to differentiate the older part of the building by the colour of the stone, as the grey Romanesque elements of the first church can be perfectly distinguished from the Renaissance ashlars, which are in better condition.

Around the middle of the 16th century the church underwent an integral renovation, and on top of the old church another one was built with a layout in a Latin cross shape, a nave in two sections, cruciform transept, polygonal chevet and four small chapels opening onto the nave. It was roofed by a starred, groined vault.

The church has an octagonal bell-tower, normally inhabited by storks, and an atrium with a railing of pillars topped with vases. Both elements were built between the 16th and 18th centuries in line with a design by Ventura Rodríguez, one of the finest architects of his time.

The interior of the church is very spacious and houses various paintings, sculptures and altarpieces. Notable amongst these is the high altarpiece dedicated to St. James which dates from the 18th century. Built into the walls of the church, one facing the other, are two important Gothic sculptures from the 16th century: the first of these, in almost life-sized coloured stone, is of St. Bartholomew, and the other is an extraordinary image in wood, also coloured, of St James the Apostle, known as Santiago "beltza" (black in Basque) due to his dark face. This figure, which represents the pilgrim apostle, is notable for its size and the way its eyes and beard have been worked.



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Practical information

  • Locality PUENTE LA REINA
  • Zone The Central Zone
  • Address Calle Mayor
  • Interesting links
  • Tel. 948340132
  • Style Romanesque