The monumental area of Orreaga-Roncesvalles, situated in the far western side of the Pyrenees stands at the foot of the southern peak of Ibañeta, near to the vast plain of Auritz-Burguete.
An old hospital for pilgrims and an enclave of profound epic resonance, Roncesvalles has become one of the main starting points for pilgrims and, given its history and symbolism, it is one of the greatest Jacobean landmarks.
An area of natural passage, situated in the beautiful forest of Navarra nestled in the Pyrenees, here visitors will encounter history and legend. History places the painful defeat of the French army in this enclave. It is here that Charlemagne mourned the death of his supposed nephew Roland, the best knight in France. This tragic outcome led to a story being told and sung a thousand times, that of the famous Chanson de Roland (The song of Roland).
This fact and the Jacobean projection of the French way, which Roncesvalles had as practically being the gateway to Spain, converted this enclave into a shelter for walkers and pilgrims, abundant in legends and culture. The majestic church of Santa María de Orreaga/Roncesvalles is, furthermore, one of the most famous on the Compostela pilgrimage, renowned for hosting a daily Mass and blessing for pilgrims, held in several languages.
Roncesvalles is well known among pilgrims for the "Blessing of the pilgrim". It takes place, throughout the year at the end of the last Mass of the day. The Mass times in the Collegiate Church are, from Monday to Friday at 20.00 pm and on Saturdays and the days before bank holidays, at 18.00 hours (July to October, at 19.00 hours). On Sundays and bank holidays they celebrate Mass at 12.00 and 18.00 hours (from July to October at 19.00).
Other curiosities of the enclave take place on September the 8th, when they celebrate the Day of the Virgin of Roncesvalles, patron of the town. Also, on Sundays and bank holidays in May and June the nearby villages and parishes of the valley travel to this border to pay a tribute to the "Queen of the Pyrenees". That of valley de Acre is notable as it dates back to the XVI century and that of the Aezkoa Valley stands out for being the most flamboyant and colourful. The traditional costumes of the valley mingle with the dark robes of the penitent and barefoot cross bearers in black tunics and veils. All quietly march to the altar of the Virgin, in the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria.
If you are traveling on the Camino de Santiago or are planning to do so soon, you should know that the distance separating Roncesvalles from Santiago de Compostela is 755 kilometers.
© Copyright LA VOZ DE GALICIA S.A. Polígono de Sabón, Arteixo, A CORUÑA (ESPAÑA) Inscrita en el Registro Mercantil de A Coruña en el Tomo 2438 del Archivo, Sección General, a los folios 91 y siguientes, hoja C-2141. CIF: A-15000649