Monastery Santa Maria la Real
According to the legend, in 1044 the king Garcia was chasing a hawk while hunting when, all of sudden, he found a cave with an astonishing image of the Virgin. The king understood the discovery as a good omen is his fight against Islam so the following year, he initiated the building of the church.
The monastery was founded in 1052 and had wide territories and wealth. It also underwent difficult times, such as the 13th and 14th centuries, and splendorous ones as well, like the 15th century, when the new church got built and the monastery became independent from the Cluny Order.
The 19th century was a hard period, too. The Peninsular War resulted in attacks and plundering, and the clergymen were expelled from the monastery, therefore it became abandoned, thanks to the Disentailment of Mendizabal (1835).
In 1889, it was declared National Artistic Historic Monument by the government and, from 1895 onwards, a community of Franciscan monks started living in the convent and restoring it.
The monastery suffered from complete restoration works between 15th century and late 17th century, following the gothic and Renaissance styles, that is why there are scarce remains of the Romanesque church.
On the inside, at the entrance of the cave where the Virgin appeared in the King Garcia’s presence, the Royal Pantheon of the Monarchs from Navarre was located, hosting the dynasties of Sancho Garces II Abarca and Garcia Ramirez el Restaurador (‘the Restorer’).
The choir stall, created in 1493 by Master Nicolas and Master Andres, is one of the most monumental pieces of the Crown of Castle. Likewise, the baroque Main Altarpiece, by Francisco de la Cueva and Mateo de Rubalcaba in 1692, is overwhelming due to its richness and opulence, including a Romanesque image of Saint Mary in the middle.
The lower Cloister is, together with the church, the oldest area in the convent and the Royal Staircase, framed by the Charles I Gate, leads to the Cloister of Knights, which can be highlighted due to the beauty and harmony typical of the plateresque style.
The Castle hill, close to the urban area of Nájera, bear witness of an important part of the history of the town in a time marked by the difficult coexistence between the Roman Empire and, in its decay the invasions by Barbarian tribes.
This time of insecurity forced the population to seek refuge in the Castle, an old Celtiberian and Roman fortress as well as in these caves.
There are two types of caves, those called El Castillo (‘the Caslte’) and Las Siete Cuevas (‘The Seven Caves’). Both were hand-dug and form a group of rooms layered in five storey or floors, with a similar building plan based on angles and straight lines, vertical walls and flat ceilings.
In the last century the caves have served to accommodate Italian troops during the Civil War, as corrals, dovecots, housing…
Due to their state of preservation, they are not open to the public nowadays.
The first information about the bridge is found in the document acknowledging privileges to the city by the King Alfonso VI in 1076. Little is known about the Romanesque bridge, which is traditionally linked to Saint Juan de Ortega (1080-1163) and, however, the bridge mentioned by this Castilian king was built pr;or to his birth.
Its history is influenced by the constant floods of the Najerilla river which forced continuous restoration works. The flood in 1653 could be highlighted among all of them due to the serious damage caused, which was not solved until the end of the century.
By the middle of the 19th century, restoration works became necessary since it was included in the route of the road Logronio-Burgos. Therefore, in 1864, the dilapidated parts were demolished and, together with these, the Bridge Chapel was built in the 18th century over the second pier.
Restoration works finished and the seven piers were made anew since, according to engineers, the stone used in the old ones was clayey and contained too much plaster, consequently, in contact with water it had turned into sand. The chapel was also reconstructed. The current bridge is the result of the expansion of the road which took place in 1952 to improve traffic and the stylistic remodeling at the beginning of the 21st century.