Visiting Roncesvalles is like traveling to another world, a parallel universe where fairy tales come true. Orreaga-Roncesvalles is a dreamlike location whose walls and roads defy the passage of time. Located 47.7 km from Pamplona, Roncesvalles is one of the best-preserved historical, cultural, and spiritual centers in Europe.


In Roncesvalles, there is much to see—countless hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. While it is a landmark on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, one doesn’t need to be a pilgrim heading to Santiago de Compostela to visit this town.

Do you crave an escape from the routine and hustle of the metropolis? Would you like to transport yourself to a legendary era? Well, Roncesvalles is the perfect destination for you.

Here, we provide all the information you need about Roncesvalles: what to see, places to visit, and how to ensure a great experience. What are you waiting for? It’s time to plan your visit!

Why Visit Roncesvalles?

The municipality of Orreaga-Roncesvalles is primarily frequented by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. Undoubtedly, it is a refuge of faith and a stronghold of spirituality. However, there are many other reasons to visit this beautiful town.

On one hand, its historical and cultural heritage is simply invaluable. Roncesvalles preserves monuments and relics dating back to the 13th century, not to mention its extensive art collection. Few corners of Europe surpass Roncesvalles in terms of history and tradition.

On the other hand, it is situated in a privileged location on the Iberian Peninsula. The Pyrenean region of northern Navarra is a true natural paradise, where beech and fir forests flourish. If you are a nature lover, the flora and fauna surrounding the town will fascinate you.

Lastly, Roncesvalles is also an incredible vacation destination. Surprisingly, it boasts charming inns and luxury hotels equipped with all amenities. The peace and fresh air in Roncesvalles make it a perfect hideaway to escape the routine.

George Deacon’s Testimonial

George Deacon
I loved the atmosphere here. It was like a school boy prep school style of being told what to do, but I liked it. Our table had pasta for the first course and then trout. The trout was amazing and perfect before going to church for the pilgrim blessing. I really liked my evening here.

What to See in Roncesvalles and Surroundings

As mentioned earlier, there are many options, from grand architectural works to cinematic landscapes. Roncesvalles’ tourist attractions are so numerous that covering them all is quite challenging. However, there are a few treasures that we must not overlook. Here are the jewels of Roncesvalles that you won’t want to miss.

Iglesia Colegiata de Santa María

Talking about iconic buildings in Orreaga-Roncesvalles means talking about the Collegiate Church of Santa María. This construction is by far the most majestic monument in all of Roncesvalles. Simply gazing at its imposing nave gives an idea of the significant role played by the community of Augustinian canons in the town.

The structure of the Collegiate Church of Santa María was built following the architectural principles of pure I’le de France and Gothic aesthetics. This temple, as known today, was built with the funding of the patron Sancho VII between 1194 and 1234.

Since then, the Collegiate Church of Santa María has undergone various reforms, with the most important ones carried out in the early 17th century.

Today, it is still possible to appreciate the Gothic elements of the original construction amid the Baroque forms added later. While certain aspects of the Santa María temple have evolved over time, the glory of its past remains palpable. If you are planning a visit to Roncesvalles, the Collegiate Church of Santa María is a must-visit.

Capilla de San Agustín

Also known as the Tower of San Agustín, the Royal Chapel, or the Chapter House, the Chapel of San Agustín is another architectural marvel of Roncesvalles.

This building shares strong similarities with the Barbanza Chapel of the Pamplona Cathedral. Its square plan is covered by a tierceron vault with tied ribs and decorated keystones. Meanwhile, its exterior with attached buttresses gives it the appearance of a fortress.

In the center of the Chapel of San Agustín, you will find the tomb of the aforementioned Sancho VII the Strong. This was installed in 1912 to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.

King Sancho VII died in Tudela in 1234, and from his original funerary ensemble, only a carved slab with his figure has survived. This piece dates back to the mid-13th century and was commissioned by Teobaldo I for his uncle’s tomb.

In addition to this, the Chapel of San Agustín houses a series of sculptures of immense historical value. Two capitals symbolizing the Original Sin and the Expulsion from Paradise stand out. Moreover, you can also admire statues of King Sancho VII and his wife, Doña Clemencia.

El Claustro

The cloister is attached to the Epistle of the Church of Santa María, and its east wing connects to the Chapel of San Agustín. The current building was constructed around 1615 to replace the original structure, which succumbed to the weight of a snowfall in 1600. The construction of the cloister as we know it today took more than 40 years.

The chronicle of Licenciado Huarte praises the aesthetic value of Roncesvalles’ cloister, placing it on par with the Cathedral of Pamplona’s cloister. Considering the foundational relationship between both temples, this kinship is not surprising.

With its pointed arches and sturdy walls, the cloister could host a compelling historical drama. It is impossible to wander through its wide corridors without feeling transported back in time. Are you contemplating a visit to Roncesvalles? Now you know what to see.

Capilla del Espíritu Santo

According to the oral and written tradition of Roncesvalles, the remains of the legendary Roland and his companions lie in this humble yet charming chapel. According to these sources, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit was commissioned by the Frankish king to honor these brave warriors. This is why this building is also known as Charlemagne’s Silo.

While it has undergone certain transformations over the years, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit is the oldest building in all of Roncesvalles. This monument is estimated to have been erected in the 12th century, although the small cloister accompanying it dates back to the 17th century.

Inside the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, the stone that Roland split with his sword was once kept, an object loaded with symbolism. Over time, the memory of the hero and devotion to the sacred blended, turning this sanctuary into a place of worship. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit is a key point to explore Orreaga-Roncesvalles.

Iglesia de Santiago

Next to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit stands a small Gothic-style building built in the 13th century. Although attractive in its own way, the facade of the Church of Santiago is much simpler than the other buildings around it. Its interior is also synonymous with humility and simplicity: a rectangular plan and a simple ribbed vault supported by cylindrical columns.

From the 18th to the 20th century, the Church of Santiago remained in a complete state of abandonment. Fortunately, during this time, Florencio Ansoleaga took it upon himself to restore it. It was he who opened the modest oculus we can see today above the entrance and installed the pilgrims’ bell.

The Church of Santiago may lack the grandeur of the Santa María Collegiate. Nevertheless, this temple remains an interesting place to explore during your visit to Roncesvalles. As they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”


Itzandegia is another of those small pieces of history that often go unnoticed. However, if you give yourself the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of its tierceron arches and rectangular nave, you will end up discovering a secret or two. In this building, you will find forms of an incipient Gothic and a structure dating back to the 13th century.

Itzandegia has been identified as the first sanctuary of the Virgin of Roncesvalles. Before being rebuilt and adapted in 1993, this important building served various purposes. According to available documents, Itzandegia was used as a dwelling for servants, a barn, and a stable.

The abuse to which this structure has been subjected has left a permanent mark on its appearance. Nevertheless, echoes of the past still resonate within its walls.

La Biblioteca y el Museo de Roncesvalles

The museum and library of Roncesvalles occupy the same building, which stands juxtaposed to the Casa Prioral. This magnificent space is the perfect place for art and history enthusiasts. On one hand, Roncesvalles’ library brings together a valuable collection of books and archives of great bibliographic interest. On the other hand, the museum houses the most exquisite pieces of art.

Sculpture, painting, and goldsmithing, Roncesvalles’ museum has it all. Here, you will find carvings and sculptures from the 14th, 16th, and 18th centuries, including reliefs that were part of the main altarpiece of the Collegiate Church. You can also contemplate a triptych of the Crucifixion given to the Collegiate in 1720 by Doña Jerónima Jiménez de Esparza. And let’s not forget to mention the museum’s silver collection, which includes reliquaries, chalices, and crowns.

The list is long; the building that houses the library and museum of Roncesvalles is one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in the town. If you still have doubts about what to see in Roncesvalles and its surroundings, here’s the answer: visit its beautiful museum.

La Selva del Irati

Not everything in Roncesvalles is made of stone, glass, and wood. In fact, one of the most impressive points to see in Roncesvalles has not been crafted by human ingenuity. The Irati Forest is, by itself, a natural monument of immeasurable value. This ecosystem is home to unique species, such as the Pyrenean desman, the Pyrenean frog, the white-backed woodpecker, and the Isabelina butterfly.

The landscapes offered by the Irati Forest have a magnetic and hypnotic quality. Its large beech and imposing fir trees give way here and there to extensive meadows. If you seek an experience of communion with nature, you cannot miss the route around the Irabia reservoir. This is a crystal-clear water reservoir located in the heart of the forest. Roncesvalles is surrounded by magic and mystery.

Guided Tours of Roncesvalles

As you may have noticed, when in Roncesvalles, what to see is not the problem. This town is full of treasures to discover, so many that it can become overwhelming. Therefore, a good option to avoid inconveniences and make the most of your visit to Orreaga is to hire a guide. Scheduling a guided tour of Roncesvalles will allow you to shed all unnecessary stress and worries.

Even such a beautiful place as Roncesvalles can become suffocating when you don’t know how to navigate it. But don’t worry, at, we offer a tour of the five main landmarks of Orreaga. For more information about guided tours, click on the visit Roncesvalles. You can also download a map of Roncesvalles here.


Roncesvalles is a destination that anyone interested in the past of Western Europe should visit. Roncesvalles and its surroundings host many wonders to see and enjoy. We hope this brief article has encouraged you to visit Orreaga. If so, we invite you to check out our latest entry. In it, we help you find the best place to Sleep in Roncesvalles.

Discover the Enchanting Town of Roncesvalles: Unveiling Its Historical and Natural Treasures