San Juan de Ortega

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What to see in San Juan de Ortega

San Juan de Ortega ©Panoramio Mariano Minaudo

San Juan de Ortega ©Panoramio Mariano Minaudo

San Juan de Ortega, rich in cultural heritage, is an almost obligatory stop for all pilgrims. Here visitors can learn about the life of this saint and supporter of Jacobean Route.

Juan of Velazquez, the religious who was later known as San Juan de Ortega, was born in the Burgos village of Quintanaortuño in 1080. Know as the Disciple of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, as he dedicated his life to facilitate the journey of travellers to Compostela with the construction of bridges and roads. His most famous piece of work is situated here, in this small enclave and isolated in the Montes de Oca.

It was here that he founded a hospital and where he built the chapel of San Nicholas of Bari - Apparently the Burgos born Saint was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and, after a storm his boat was damaged and at the point of sinking. At that moment was assigned to San Nicholas of Bari - "protector and defender of people and villages" - and he promised that if they saved him that he would build a chapel.

San Juan de Ortega died on June the 2nd in 1163; on this date there is now a pilgrimage in his honour. The constructions initiated by the saint led to the building, in the mid- twelfth century, of a monastery. The monastic church was constructed during the XII and XIII centuries according to the plans designed by the saint himself. Inside it is notable for its florid Gothic canopy with images of the saint's life, a beautiful Romanesque tomb and, above all, for its Romanesque capitals of great expressiveness.

The Capital of the Annunciation, also known as the Christmas Capital, depicts the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel kneeling before Mary to announce that she will be the mother of Jesus. There is a curious phenomenon surrounding the capital in that, in order to appreciate its imagery depends on the weather conditions. Coinciding with the equinoxes of spring and autumn, a ray of light shines in a surprising manner and shows firstly the announcement of the Angel to Mary and ends with the birth.

This phenomenon occurs on the 21st of March at 18.00 hours, and on the 22nd of September at 19.00. The Pilgrim Mass and blessing takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 18.00. The pilgrims should not miss out on the Chapel of San Nicholas of Bari, also known as the Holy Chapel. It was here where they kept various relics collected from the holy places he visited. Among them is that of San Nicholas of Bari, his protector. It was also in this small church where they initially buried San Juan de Ortega. In the centre there is also an interesting inn, with a XVI century courtyard, and Herrera style cloister.

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19/10/2021

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