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Eunate Church




Church of Santa Maria de Eunate

Nestled in the Valdizarbe Valley, the Church of Eunate - listed as a national monument - is one of the treasures of the Camino de Santiago. Built in 1170, it is evocative of the Romanesque style, whilst its enigmatic geometry makes it a jewel of the Pilgrim's Way.

It has a surprisingly imperfect octagonal plan, and a beautiful arcaded gallery of 33 arches with decorated capitals and an original cloister. On the exterior walls there are alternating openwork and blind windows and two access doors - one highly decorated, on the North side facing The Way, and the other of a simpler design facing West.

The little light that penetrates inside invites meditation. Well worth admiring are its stellar vault and the pentagonal apse presided over by the image of Our Lady of Eunate - a reproduction of the original Romanesque piece which disappeared.

The origins of Eunate are a mystery, although the discovery of human remains with shells under the cloister has led some to think that it was a hospital and cemetery for pilgrims. Popular tradition attributes its construction to a queen who ordered it built as a funeral chapel, while others have considered the possibility that it was the work of Templars.

Today it is often visited by the brethren and the people of the valley in their pilgrimages and celebrations, as well as Pilgrims and tourists.

Barely 15 km to the East, in Olcoz, the church of San Miguel has a portal which is identical to the one in Eunate, except that it is a mirror image. Legend has it that a master stonemason who had been commissioned for the portal in Eunate was annoyed when he discovered that a giant with supernatural powers had carried out his work. The abbot challenged the stone mason to build a similar home in three days. With the help of witches, serpents and spells, he concluded his work in time but in reverse. When the giant saw the work of the stonemason, he became enraged and kicked it so violently that it flew all the way to Olcoz.