The Monastery of Santa Maria la Real is located in the city of Nájera (Logroño), between the cities of Logroño and Santo Domingo de la Calzada with its famous legend, in the French Camino de Santiago from Logroño, which is why it had great cultural and economic significance promoted by kings and nobles from La Rioja and Navarre. Today it is one of the emblematic places of La Rioja, being declared in 1889, Historic Artistic Monument National.

Being King of Nájera-Pamplona Don Garcia Sánchez III, legend has it that in the year 1044, while he was hunting, he entered a cave where his falcon had entered, finding in it, a small chapel with the image of a Virgin, a vase with lilies, a lamp and a bell, for this reason the Virgin initially received the name of Santa María de la Cueva.

As a result of this fact and interpreting it as a divine apparition, he ordered the construction, from this cave, of a monastery that was inaugurated in the year 1052. Throughout the reign of Don Garcia Sánchez, numerous victories were attributed, over the Muslims, due to the intercession of this Virgin.

In the beginning, this monastery of Santa Maria la Real was run by the monks of the Order of Cluny, to be later governed by other orders such as the Benedictine and Franciscan. Benedictine Order whose bulwark is the Samos Monastery, which behind the Cathedral of Santiago is one of the most important places in the entire Camino de Santiago organized.

The oldest remains of the Church of the Monastery of Santa María la Real are Romanesque with Mozarabic influence.

 

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The current temple was built in the 1422th century (year 1453 – 10), in Gothic style and consists of three naves separated by XNUMX columns and a transept. Externally, we find an imposing Church-Fortress, in which its cylindrical towers and high walls stand out.

Inside, at the foot of the Choir, we can see the Cave, the origin of the monastery, where the image of the Virgin of Our Lady of the Rose (1845th century) is found; This image was transferred to the cave from the Alcazar Real de Nájera chapel in XNUMX. 

Next to the Cave, we find the Royal pantheon, where there are 12 tombs of kings of Castile and Navarre, corresponding to two dynasties (“the Abarca” or “Jimena” who reigned from from 918 to 1076, and that of Garcia Ramirez who reigned from 1135 to 1234). The graves that we can see there are not original, since they are Renaissance burial coffers from the XNUMXth century, with austere ornamentation.

On the right side of the central nave is the so-called Pantheon of the Infantes, where the most important piece of the funerary elements of the Monastery of Santa María la Real is found, the grave of Doña Blanca Garcés de Navarra, a Romanesque gem from the XNUMXth century, only the top of which remains.

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Due to their interest and importance, we also highlight the Pantheon of the Manrique De Lara (Dukes of Najera), the most important being that of D. Pedro Manrique III and Juan Esteban Manrique De Lara. 

Outside the church, there is the Cloister of the Knights, a place where relevant figures of the nobility used to be buried and who, in most cases, had made significant financial contributions to the Monastery. 

Built in the 24th century, it has XNUMX arches, with two levels, the lower one being the most important and decorated, in a flowery Gothic style with Plateresque details. In it, next to the entrance of the church and next to the central nave, is the mausoleum of Don Diego López de Haro with its recumbent sculpture from the XNUMXth century and at its feet, the Gothic sarcophagus of his wife, Ms. Toda Pérez de Azagra, with some Renaissance decorative elements.

At choir stands the stalls, in style Gothicmade between 1493 and 1495, being one of the best works of Spanish art, under the direction of the work to the brothers Andrés and Nicolás Amutio. The size of the abbatial chair stands out, in which King García of Nájera is represented.

Finally, we focus on the XNUMXth century altarpiece, in the Baroque style, in which, in its central part, the Romanesque image of Santa María la Real stands out, which King Don Garcia found in the cave. It is an image of carved wood and polychrome, only on the front that holds the Child Jesus on his knees and imparting the blessing with his right hand.

For everything seen previously on your Trip to the Camino de Santiago you cannot miss visiting the Monastery of Santa María la Real.

If you like the history of the Monasteries, you can not miss the Monasteries of Suso and Yuso cradle of the Castilian language. And if your wish is to finish in Santiago and you have the necessary days to go through Nájera, we recommend the Camino de Santiago from Sarria.