Puente La Reina – The Queen’s Bridge
It is my first Saturday on the Camino. When I planned this trip I decided that just as the soul needs a rest so do the feet. So, Sundays were the day I would not walk at all no matter I found myself to be. This first Sabbath on the Sabbath rest would be at Puente La Reina.
Over the hill we go
The walk from Pamplona to Puente La Reina was literally up and then down. A pleasant surprise was waiting at the top of Alto de Perdón. As we left Pamplona, in the distance we could see wind turbines – those big white ones used to generate electricity. Yet, before you get there you pass several towns, one of them is Cizur Menor. It was here that Charlemagne and his army defeated Aigolando and his army in the 8th century. And then there is the Ruinas Guenduláin, a palace and church that was build in the 16th century.
At Zariquiegui, a hamlet before we get to Alto de Perdón, you’ll find the 13th C Iglesia de San Andrés. An interesting fact about this small community is that in the 14 C it was almost wiped out by the Bubonic plague.
Then at last we reach Alto de Perdón. Many years ago there was a basilica and pilgrim hospice here, now there are 40 wind turbines. The electric company has erected a statue of a group of medieval pilgrims walking forward as the wind press against them. There is an inscription that reads: Donde se cruza el Camino del viento com el de las estrellas (Where the way of the wind meets the way of the stars).
There is also a detour for the brave souls who dared to venture on the beaten track to Eunate. This adds about 3 km to the daily walk. It is worth it. The church – Ermita de Santa María de Eunate – dates back to the 13th Century. It is a octagonal church that is surrounded by 33 arches. The Templar Knights was stationed here at one point. It has also been suggested that the 33 arches mimic the Muslim prayer beads, and that pilgrims circled the church 3 times (99 doors) before entering the 100th door into the church.
I also learned, once again, tat everything shuts down between the hours of 1 and 4:30. I met a pilgrim from Spain on this detour. He walked the Camino on weekends. He spoke a little English and I a little Spanish so we were able to carry on a conversation. When we arrived at Santa María de Eunate the caretaker was locking up the church because it was 1 pm. Luckily, he was gracious enough to stamp our Pilgrim Passports.
The Queen’s Bridge
Alas, I reached my stop for the next two days – I did not walk on Sundays – Puente La Reina. The bridge in this village is quite important. It was build way back in the 11th century. The wife of Sancho el Fuerte – Doña Mayor – financed a beautiful 6-arched Romansque bridge over the Río Argo. She did this so that pilgrims and other travelers could avoid the expensive ferrymen. It is also said that Charlemagne stayed in this town after his victorious battle against the Moors back in Cizur.
A Final Thought
Each day brings with new adventures and stories and, yes, life lessons from Patience amidst Frustration to looking for the good in every situation. Even though I was disappointed I missed seeing the inside of Santa María de Eunate, I had the opportunity to talk to someone from Spain who walked the Camino on weekends. Yet, I would say perhaps the best story on this leg of the journey was the bridge. It wasn’t because it was old. It wasn’t that many feet has past over it. I think it was that someone saw a need of others and did something. Doña Mayor was fortunate that she could finance a bridge over the Río Argo. Not everyone can do this; however, which bridges can we build?
*Please note that this blog entry was first published Sept 17, 2017. It has been updated both the reflection and the pictures. Enjoy.