Monastery of Irache

The monastery of Santa María la Real de Irache (Spanish Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Irache ), short form Irache monastery, is a former Benedictine monastery near the town of Estella in the northern Spanish province of Navarra. It lies on the Camino Frances Way of St James and was in the Middle Ages an important pilgrim hostel.


The monastery Irache is probably one of the oldest in Navarre and was probably originally a West Gothic cenoby. After the reconquest of the territory in the year 914 by Sancho I Garcés, King of Navarre, it was formed by Cluniacs intellectual and spiritual bulwark of the Reconquista.

958 Irache was first mentioned as a Benedictine abbey. 1054 - ie before the establishment of Estella and even before the establishment of the hostel of Roncesvalles - was here on arrangement García III. Ramirez Nájera a pilgrim hospice established. The monastery played an important role for the numerous guests in pilgrimage, in turn, constituted an important basis for the flourishing and the economic well being of the abbey.

During this time the tenure of the famous Abbot of Irache fell: the later canonized and the patron of the monastery of San Veremundo collected from the nearby Villatuerta. He led the monastery from 1056 to 1093, which reached its greatest splendor during this time and was with his pilgrim's hostel indispensable stage destination of all pilgrims. The importance of the monastery in his time is to be regarded as also against the background of the territorial expansion of the Kingdom of Navarre and the location on a main road at the time of blossoming Jacob pilgrimage.

From the 14th century began a gradual decline, which was stopped in 1522 by connecting it to the Benedictine monastery of Valladolid. From 1534 to 1824 there was a university that had the task to defend the Immaculate Conception of Mary. With the closure of the monastery she was moved to Sahagun.

In 1877 the former monastery was classified as a historic structure ( Bien de Interès Cultural ). Currently, the Navarre Folklore Museum Museo de Navarra Etnológico " Julio Caro Baroja " is set in a part of the former monastic buildings. In addition to other sub-areas be converted into a Parador hotel.


The Romanesque church from the 12th/13th. Century is created as basilikales longhouse in the form of a Latin cross: Three vessels each terminating in an apse, arches over the crossing with the transept a wide dome, vault of heavy belt ribs are supported by cruciform pillars bundles. The 1609 instead Romanesque twin towers built church tower is similar in design to the Herrera style. The silver-plated statue of Santa Maria la Réal from the 12th century and the plateresque reliquary of San Veremundo can be found today in Estella. They were taken with the secularization in the local Iglesia del Castillo.


The cloister was built in 1540-1586 according to the plans of Martín de Oyarzábal plateresque, the upper floor in 1589 in the Mannerist style of Juan Sarobe. He is one of the best examples of its kind, with the cloister of the former monastery of San Zoilo in Carrion de los Condes comparable. The sculptures speak scene like religious and mythological topics ( among others: Childhood and Passion of Christ, the life of St. Benedict of Nursia, Prometheus with the eagle, Hercules with the Hydra ); the medallions of the ceiling vaults show saints and monks.

From the first phase of the Especiosa comes called door of Juan de Aguirre 1547, which connects the church with the cloister. It is decorated on both sides with sculptures; to see are: Peter and Paul, Assumption and Coronation, the Order of Saint Benedict and Bernard.

In the 17th century, was another building with a cloister for the university built in the strict style of the Spanish early baroque.

Wine Fountain

Located next to the monastery buildings is the winery Bodegas Irache. The former monastery winery has installed with reference to the tradition of Benedictine hospitality that wants to continue it, in this place a " Fuente del Vino ", a " fountain of wine ". He is also known under the name of " Fuente de Irache " and is sometimes called in German publications as " wine source." In the " fountain of wine " are two mounted above a basin taps - a faucet, one for red wine - where particularly the traditional pilgrimage can strengthen to foot, horse or bike for free with drinking water or a sip of wine from Irache and refresh to.

The winery provides for this purpose a day to 70 liters of red wine available and asks to moderate pleasure; nevertheless go on summer days and on a weekend afternoon, many pilgrims from empty. The company Bodegas Irache was known not least by their " fountain of wine ", which is probably one of the most effective marketing tools along the Spanish Camino de Santiago beyond the friendly gesture.