Olite, a set on Flickr.
Medieval markets and fairs are quite commonplace in Spain these days but we’ve never come across one quite as special as that of Olite.
An almost perfectly kept medieval town with the ‘castle’, actually the Royal Palace of the Navarran kings dating from the 1400s, and adjacent church of Santa Maria la Real dominating the main squares and which lead on to narrow streets with amazing stone-arched doorways , Olite provides the perfect backdrop for the fair. People travel from far and wide, many dressing in period costume which adds to the flavour as do the many knights, horses, minstrels and jesters mingling with the crowd
Centre of the Navarran wine trade and at the heart of the Navarran Ribera region famous for its premium vegetables (peppers, asparagus, artichokes) Olite is a true delight for gourmets with great restaurants and plenty of little shops selling local produce.
We combined our visit with a day at Senda Viva, a small theme park / zoo just half an hour south of the town and a great favourite with all the family. The park is set in the hills and makes use of the landscape to provide a thrilling bobsleigh ride, tubing and the birds of prey show which must be one of the best in Europe. From the high points in the park you get the most amazing views of the surreal landscape of the Bardenas Reales – a desert landscape not unlike Arizona or New Mexico, all the more strange for being just a few kilometres from the lush green hills of northern Navarra.
To end the day we enjoyed a theatrical visit to the Royal Palace hosted by the talented and hilarious Pablo del Mundillo which really brought the old stones to life as night drew in – the glass of local wine which accompanied the show didn’t do any harm either!
Through eastern Navarra with its dramatic gorges and immense native woodlands our Western Pyrenees Circular Tour PC5 will take you, via the desert landscapes of Las Bardenas, to some of Spain’s most spectacular National Parks including Ordesa & Monte Perdido, Posets-Maladeta.