In the heart of Navarra is located Puente la Reina a charming town that emerges as an essential stop on the the Camino de Santiago. This town, known for its impressive Romanesque bridge, is a mosaic of history, architecture and traditions that captivate pilgrims and tourists alike.

Imagine walking through streets that whisper stories of past centuries, where every stone and corner tells you about pilgrims and adventures. This is one of the most precious jewels of the French route. Here, where ancestral paths converge, a unique experience awaits you that combines the richness of history with the beauty of the Navarrese landscape.

Are you ready to discover the secrets this charming town holds, from its iconic bridge to its hidden treasures? Immerse yourself in a journey through a place where every step is a discovery.

History of Puente la Reina

Its name, according to some etymologists, may derive from an ancient “Pons Rune“, where “Runa” would be the primitive name of the Arga river, linked to Iruña, the Basque name of Pamplona. 

In Basque, the town is known as stations, a name that was maintained until the end of the 19th century and is currently co-official. The term “Puente” is used colloquially, and its inhabitants are known as Puentesinos/as or Garestarra in Basque.

Geographically, it is located in the Valdizarbe valley, halfway between Pamplona y Estella. It is surrounded by a varied geography that includes river terraces and mountains. Its Mediterranean climate and its landscape, strongly modified by human activity, offer a ideal environment for the cultivation of cereals, vines and olive trees.

The historical heritage of the area is notable, with archaeological finds dating from between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, as evidenced in the Arellano Archaeological Museum, near Estella. This museum houses important Roman remains and is known for its spectacular Roman mosaic of “the Muses.”

As for its most recent history, in 1498, Queen Catherine of Navarre granted Puente la Reina the right to hold an annual fair. The town also played a significant role during the Castilian conquest of Navarra and the Napoleonic Wars, as evidenced in the events of 1512 and 1809, respectively, when the city became a crucial strategic point.

Street in Puente la Reina

Points of Interest

Puente la Reina, a significant enclave on the Camino de Santiago, is home to several sites of interest that deserve a detailed description:

  • The Romanesque bridge: This bridge is the heart of Puente la Reina and is one of the most representative examples of the romanesque architecture in Navarre. Was built in the XNUMXth century to facilitate the passage of pilgrims through the Arga River. Its importance on the Camino de Santiago is unquestionable, since it represents the junction point between the French Way and the Aragonese Way. The bridge has six arches and a distinctive ridged profile, making it a perfect place to take in views of the river and surrounding nature.
  • Church of the Crucifix: This church is famous for housing a Gothic-style crucifix brought by the Knights Templar. Legend has it that the crucifix was carved by Nicodemus, who participated in the burial of Christ. The church, originally part of a convent of the Franciscan Fathers, is notable for its mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. Its role on the Camino de Santiago is fundamental, being a place of reflection and spirituality for pilgrims.
  • Church of Santiago: This church, dedicated to the apostle Santiago, is another important landmark in Puente la Reina. With an impressive Romanesque doorway, the church has a rich history and is a testimony to the passage of countless pilgrims over the centuries. Its architecture and sacred art reflect the importance of Puente la Reina on the Jacobean route.
  • Pilgrim monument: This monument is a tribute to the thousands of pilgrims that have passed through Puente la Reina over the years. It represents the diversity and universality of the Camino de Santiago, symbolizing the spirit of camaraderie and the shared effort of the pilgrims.
  • Main Street: Calle Mayor is the central axis and is flanked by historic buildings that reflect different architectural periods. It is an ideal place to walk, feel the atmosphere of the town and enjoy the local shops and restaurants.

Gastronomy and local culture

At Puente la Reina, a gastronomic experience awaits you that will delight your senses with the authentic flavors of Navarra. This region, known for its rich agriculture and livestock, offers a variety of dishes that reflect its culinary tradition and the abundance of its lands.

The cuisine of this place is characterized by the generous use of fresh vegetables, such as borage, green beans, chard, thistle and, of course, tomatoes, artichokes and peppers, all locally grown. 

In the meat sector, the lamb It is a star ingredient and is present in many traditional stews. For meat lovers, you should not miss the opportunity to try a good sirloin or steak.

Sirloin in Puente la Reina

As for the dishes, one of the most emblematic is the trout with ham, a combination that surprises with its balanced and authentic flavor. He Ajoarriero cod It is another delight that you cannot miss, a dish that combines perfectly with the rosé wine from the Valdizarbe designation of origin.

Recommended restaurants

  1. La Conrada Restaurant: This family restaurant offers homemade and traditional dishes, including lamb chops, garlic cod, and peppers stuffed with hake and shrimp.
  2. Grill El Fogón de Etayo: Known for its seasonal products and quality grilled meats, this steakhouse is a must-visit for lovers of good food.
  3. Bar Restaurant La Droguería: This curious place, located in an old drugstore, offers simple but delicious dishes, such as Navarrese pochas and baked salmon.
  4. Valdizarbe Restaurant: Ideal for eating from a set menu, with a wide variety of sandwiches, skewers and combined dishes.
  5. Bar Restaurant Gares: Famous for its kebabs, burgers and mixed plates, it is the perfect place for a casual but tasty dinner.

festivities and traditions

Don’t miss the Santiago festivities at the end of July, which fill the streets with music and joy, or the traditional fair at the end of September, where you can experience local culture at its finest.

The gastronomy of Puente la Reina is a reflection of its rich history and the fertility of its lands. We invite you to explore and enjoy these flavors and experiences during your visit.

Whether you have decided to make your trip with a organizing company of the Camino de Santiago, or simply on your own, plan a stop at this destination full of cultural wealth and natural beauty. Puente la Reina will not disappoint you, it is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Come and let yourself be carried away by the magic of this extraordinary place!

Other Jacobean Routes that may be of interest to you

If you have already decided to do the Camino Francés, one of the most popular, without a doubt, you will probably be interested to know that you have a much shorter option, and it is the French Camino de Santiago trip from Sarria organized, to travel in approximately 8 days.

And if you have already made this pilgrimage and want to know other routes, you can decide on the Portuguese Way from the coast, which leaves from Porto (Portugal) and requires about two weeks of walking, or the Portuguese Way from Tui, starting from the bordering city of Tui, in Pontevedra.

Be sure to also consider, although somewhat more demanding, the Cantabrian route. Those stages of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the North They are truly as enriching as they are challenging.