Saint Jean Pied de Port, a historic medieval city in Lower Navarre
55 km from the campsite, Saint Jean Pied de Port is a charming medieval town in the Basque province of Basse-Navarre in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Classified among the "Most Beautiful Villages in France", the Basque walled city is also the last stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela before crossing the Pyrenees. Discovery!
A short visit of the old town of St Jean Pied de Port
When camping in the Basque Country, St Jean Pied de Port is one of the most popular places to visit. Your escapade will lead you to discover a rich and varied heritage that reminds you of the strategic importance of the former stronghold of the Kingdom of Navarre in the Middle Ages.
Walking along the rue d'Espagne, which goes back to Roncesvalles, you will discover the charm of the cobbled streets and alleys, the beautiful 17th century half-timbered houses, the doors decorated with carved lintels named after their former owner and the white and red facades typical of traditional Basque architecture. In the Middle Ages, there was no industrial painting. So we used a mixture of oil and beef blood to get this result!
Notre-Dame Church is also one of the city's architectural landmarks. Together with Bayonne Cathedral, it is the most important Gothic building in the Basque Country. Further on, the Santiago Gate, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is the historic entrance for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. To find out more, a short detour to the "Prison des Évêques" is recommended. A permanent exhibition retraces the history of pilgrims over the centuries.
At the top of the hill of Mendiguren stands the citadel of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a fine example of bastioned fortifications. It is now a college. It is therefore not possible to visit it from the inside.
A little history
Located between the Basque coast and the Spanish border, the village of Saint Jean Pied de Port was founded in the 13th century to protect the northern border of the Kingdom of Navarre. A first fortified castle was built on the hill to guard the Spanish invaders. Because until the 16th century, the province was at the heart of many conflicts between France and Spain. In 1512, Navarre was divided into two parts: Upper Navarre, held by the King of Aragon, and Lower Navarre, under the aegis of King Henry IV of France. Around 1625, the old medieval castle was replaced by the citadel, which was redesigned by Vauban in 1685 to make it even more defensive. From then on, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port will never be besieged again!
On the way to Compostela....
Since the 9th century, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port has been an important stop on the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela before the (difficult) crossing of the Pyrenees leading to the collegiate church of Roncesvalles. Every year, nearly 60,000 walkers from all over the world pass through the Porte Saint-Jacques. If you are looking for a welcome for pilgrims, you should know that it is located at 39 rue de la Citadelle.