Palace of the Kings of Navarre

Estella, Spain

The Palacio de los Reyes de Navarra is a historical building in Estella; it is the Romanesque former royal palace of the Kings and Queens of Navarre from the late 12th century to the mid-15th. In the twentieth century the building, which had fallen into disrepair, was restored and in 1991 converted into the Museo Gustavo de Maeztu, housing the work of the painter Gustavo de Maeztu y Whitney and open to the public. The building is important in the history of architecture in Navarre, since it is the only civil building extant from the Romanesque period.

The most significant element is the main facade, located opposite the stairway of San Pedro de la Rúa. It consists of two floors built in ashlar masonry, which are divided in height by a simple molded cornice. The lower body is a gallery of four arches framed by columns attached to the wall, decorated with capitals of vegetable and figurative type.

On the left side there are figures of stylized forms that narrate an episode of the Legend of Roland, specifically the scene of Roldan's fight against the giant Ferragut, trying to exemplify the struggle of good against evil. It is signed by Martinus of Logroño. On the right side, the decoration is formed by thin leaves of penca, Cistercian rooted.

The second floor has four large windows, each divided into its internal space by four slightly pointed arches that rest on fine encapsulated columns adorned with plant, animal and figurative decoration. Above them, a cornice with sculpted corbels. Here the original forms alternate with recent reconstructions, given that over time the structure was modified to adapt to the needs and diverse functions that it has had as a palace and as a prison for the judicial district.

It is closed on its sides by two semi-columns, with a decorative scheme on its different capitals. On the left is a capital with plant decoration, while on the right side you can see a set where scenes have been conceived related to the sin of pride, the punishment of hell and lust.

The third floor, work of the 18th century, is built in brick.



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Spain

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User Reviews

Jelen Back (5 years ago)
Precioso!!! I am in love with the place!
Ernie Geefay (5 years ago)
In Estella-Lizarra, in the square of San Martín, where the memory of this medieval city formerly populated by Franks and Jews still shines in all its splendour, stands the Palace of the Kings of Navarre, also known as the Palace of the Dukes of Granada de Ega. It is the only civil Romanesque building in Navarre and was declared a National Monument in 1931 and was built during the last third of the 12th century. Facing towards the church of San Pedro de la Rúa, it affords a magnificent façade with two narrative capitals, one of which represents the battle between Roland and the giant Farragut. At present, it houses the Gustavo de Maeztu Museum. In the square of San Martín in Estella-Lizarra, occupying the corner with Calle de San Nicolás, on the Pilgrims' Way, stands the Palace of the Kings of Navarre, one of the architectural treasures of the town of Estella-Lizarra and the only example of civil Romanesque in Navarre. The most important element of this rectangular-shaped building is its beautifully harmonious façade, structured in three sections and two towers. The lower section contains a gallery of four robust semicircular arches, while the second section is notable for its four large windows, each of which is divided by four smaller arches supported on slender columns with capitals. The upper section, which was enlarged in the 17th century, is a mansard of ashlars with three arrow slits, protected at the corners by two towers. The façade is framed at each end by two columns superimposed with four beautiful capitals, two featuring plants and two narrative ones. The lower capital of the left-hand column is the most famous of the two narrative capitals, in which you can clearly distinguish the battle between Roland and Farragut, the former being Charlemagne's foremost knight and the latter a giant Moor. The capital shows the moment when the Christian hero defeated the Muslim by attacking him at his only weak spot, his navel. In the column on the right, the upper capital contains two scenes with no connection between them. The left-hand side represents the fable of the donkey strumming a harp, listened to by a lion sat on his haunches, while on the right there are two misers from whose talons dangle money bags, walking towards their punishment and held in fetters. At their side, the condemned men are burned in a cauldron watched over by four devils. The second section of the façade is topped by a velarium with a grille of rhomboids of canes, stalks and other plant themes, as well as scrolls, lobes, diamond points and a fish. Following restoration work in 1975, the Palace became the venue for the Gustavo de Maeztu Museum (1887-1947) As well as paintings, watercolours, prints and sketches bequeathed to Estella-Lizarra by the painter from Vitoria, it also hosts temporary exhibitions and numerous courses and conferences. Take advantage of your visit to the Palace to tour this town of medieval origin, following in the steps of the pilgrims and enjoying the artistic treasures of churches such as San Miguel and San Pedro de la Rúa.
Liam Heffernan (5 years ago)
Excellent place gr8 drinks and food
Oleg Naumov (7 years ago)
Historical and cultural monument of medieval Navarre. Unfortunately museum was closed and I failed to get in.
Steven Forest (7 years ago)
Stunning architecture, well preserved. A historic gem that should be seen.
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