The Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz is on the World Heritage route of Santiago de Compostela in Spain at the foot of the Pyrenees.
The parish church is known as the Church of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia), but collectively the buildings are listed as The Abbey of Eskirotz and Ilarratz (La Abadia de Eskirotz y Ilarratz). The Way of St. James or Camino de Santiago passes directly alongside the church.
The building is one of some 1800 listed in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also registered as a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest.
In 2012 we began negotiations with the Archdiocese of Pamplona to purchase the buildings and land with a view of saving and later restoring the badly neglected buildings. In late 2014, our dream of owning the church became a reality.
Our vision is to crowd-source the skills, the means and the resources needed to restore this neglected 12th century* church. The church is rumoured to be a Templar church and symbols contained in and around the building seem to confirm this. Our research is ongoing but given that few records exist piecing the building's story together is a challenge.
Our vision for the church is that it will become a museum to itself.
The building has lived through so much - the invasion of the Moors, The Spanish Inquisition, Napoleon's crossing of the Pyrenees, two world wars, and the Spanish Civil War to name but a few…
If you have any spare time, a particular skill set, knowledge specialisation, or any financial / material resources with which to help, we would love to hear from you. So many historical buildings on the Camino have been allowed to go to ruin - our hope is that by saving this one we'll be able to create a ‘home from home’ for fellow pilgrims travelling on the Camino de Santiago.
* It's interesting to note that there is debate as to the building's age. Some architectural historians date the building's pediments as 12th century yet in some documentation the church's age is listed as 16th century. We are still trying to establish the ancestry of the building's but from what we've been told by various specialists, it appears the old 12th century fort was converted to the present day church in the mid 13th century. We'll update this information once we've learnt more.
DIRECTIONS TO THE ABBEY:
We're situated between Zubiri and Larrasoaña. After you leave Zubiri you'll pass through the Magna Mining complex and up to the hamlet of Ilarratz - The Abbey is a hundred or so meters further down the road from Ilarratz on the right hand side of the road.
About St. Lucy:
Lucia of Syracuse (283–304), also known as Saint Lucy, or Saint Lucia (Italian Santa Lucia), was a young Christian martyr who died during the Diocletian Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of eight women, who along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Her feast day, known as Saint Lucy's Day, is celebrated in the West on 13 December. St. Lucia of Syracuse was honored in the Middle Ages and remained a well-known saint in early modern England.
The church was involved in two world wars? This is news to all Spaniards!
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.