On The Camino de Santiago in Spain, Ventosa To Nájera

February 7, 2012 — 6 Comments

Downstairs, I opened the door and looked outside. The weather was worse than when I first woke up. It was cold, windy, and pouring, and I really didn’t want to go out. As I closed the door, a smiling, older German woman came down the stairs and asked how the weather was. I said, “Sunny and warm with a slight chance of showers.” Obviously, she hadn’t looked outside yet, and her face brightened with a big smile. Then I opened the door to show her it was a disgusting day. I don’t think she was impressed with me or the weather…. From Page 75, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days.

On my last post, On The Camino de Santiago in Spain, Logroño To Ventosa, I left Logroño along a paved path to the reservoir, Pantano de la Grajera, where I stopped for a break before continuing through vinyards and farmland all the way to Ventosa. Except for a small climb to the alto above the reservoir, the walking is fairly easy, but be ready for many short ups and downs. Now, I’ll continue with my journey on the Camino de Santiago in Ventosa, La Rioja. Even if you don’t have my book, you can still enjoy this post, and learn more about walking the French Way or Camino Francés (map from Wikipedia Commons).

 I had arrived to Ventosa on a cold evening with showers. I left the next morning to pouring rain and a harsh wind blowing into me. The landscape west of Ventosa was mostly farmland and vineyards, with scrubby hills.

Photo of Gravel path, gray skies, shrubs, vineyard, Leaving Ventosa, Spain

As an experiment, I bought a flimsy poncho for extra protection from the weather, but soon realized it wouldn’t work, as the material flapped and pulled all over with the wind. A kind woman took this photo, just before I ditched the new poncho, and put on my pack cover and rain jacket.

Photo of Randall St. Germain, goofy rain poncho,west of Ventosa, Spain


I’m sure on a pleasant day, the view from this spot would have been much better. However, this was not a pleasant day at all.

Photo of Gray sky, reddish brown earth, green farmland, scrubby hills, and dirt path, Ventosa, Spain, Camino de Santiago


Long stretches of the path had horrible mud, and I especially had to take care on the hills. When walking in inclement weather, even the gentlest of slopes could lead to nasty falls.

Photo of Muddy path, reddish-brown soil, scrubby hills, gray sky, west of Ventosa, Spain


Ruins of the medieval Monastery of San Antón. The alto was covered in fog.

Photo of Red's soil, grass, gray sky, stone wall, Ruins of Monastery of San Anton, west of Ventosa, Spain


After the descent, the gentle walk on a path leading alongside more farmland and vineyards.

Photo of Dirt path, gray skies, vineyards, bright green farmland, east of Nájera, Spain


From a village just before Nájera: In the distance, the hills covered with snow.

Photo of Gray sky, snow, trees, east of Nájera, Spain


Approaching Nájera.

Photo of gray sky, brown soil, paved path, green farmland, Entering Nájera, Spain


Crossing over the Río Nájerilla, with the old city of Nájera just ahead. Nájera was founded by the Romans, but its name is Arabic for “between the cliffs” or “between the rocks.” The town was under Muslim control for many years before being reconquered in 923. Although it’s difficult to see, the ruins of a castle are on top of the hill.

Photo of gray sky, bridge, river, buildings, hills, Nájera, Spain


The most prominent feature entering Nájera were these towering red cliffs.

Photo of Red cliffs, garbage bins, recycling bins, automobiles, buildings, gray skies, Nájera, Spain


Ruins outside the Monasterio de Santa María la Real.

Photo of Stone wall, green grass, pink building, ruins outside Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Although the exterior of the Monasterio de Santa María la Real was rather plain, the interior was truly beautiful. In their book, The Pilgrimage Road To Santiago, Gitlitz & Davidson reference the monastery in detail. According to legend, in 1044, King Garcia III of Navarra discovered a cave with the sculpture of the Virgen de la Rosa inside. He ordered a church to be built on site. This is definitely a must see if you’re in Nájera as a pilgrim or a tourist. Make sure you give yourself enough time at the monastery. Just seeing the amazing retablos are well worth it. Let’s go inside.

Photo of Gray sky, stone Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


The intricate cloister that surrounded the interior courtyard. Many people important to the church were buried under the walkway and entombed in the walls.

Photo of cloister, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


I believe this sculpture is of the Virgen de la Rosa.

Photo of Stone statue, cloister, Virgin, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


  The interior courtyard.

Photo of Church architecture, green grass, courtyard, cloister, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Photo of Gray sky, courtyard, Palm tree, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Inside, the Pantheon of Navarran Kings held 30 tombs for kings who lived between the 10th and 13th centuries. Among them is the founder of the monastery, King Garcia III (not sure if this is his).

Photo of Stone tomb, brick wall, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Photo of Stone tombs, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


This was likely the most intricate tomb, displayed in front of the Pantheon. It holds Doña Blanca de Navarra, the Queen of Castile. There are many webpages devoted to Doña Blanca de Navarra, and there is even a book written about her, Dona Blanca de Navarra, by Ignacio Garcia Ontiveros. It was published in 2008 by BiblioLife.

Photo of Carved stone tomb, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


The retablo at the Monasterio de Santa María la Real was one of the largest and most exquisite along the Camino. As I walked into the nave, I was amazed by the intricate details, the scenes, and the amount of gold. The retablo is Baroque and dates to the 18th century.

Photo of Retablo, Religious, crucifixion, pottery, statues, gold, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Photo of Retablo, Crucifixion scene, gold, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Photo of Gold, statues, Retablo, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain

Photo of Retablo, Gold, pottery, statues, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain


Inside the cave, sits a copy of the Virgen de la Rosa. The original is at a museum in Madrid.

Photo of Statue Virgen de la Rosa, Monasterio de Santa María la Real, Nájera, Spain

I hope you enjoyed this post. Although I spent less than an hour inside the monastery, I could have stayed much longer. It was a very special place to visit and I’ll never forget it. I hope you get to experience the Monasterio de Santa María la Real one day.

On my next post, On The Camino de Santiago in Spain, Nájera To Redecilla del Camino, I walked along more farmland as the vineyards decreased, and through some interesting and ancient villages of La Rioja, before crossing the border into Castilla y Leon. Please join me.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle. My Goodreads page has reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.


6 responses to On The Camino de Santiago in Spain, Ventosa To Nájera

  1. Gee thanks for your site and pics….My son is currently riding the Camino and your pics allowed me to see it through his eyes. Thanks!

  2. I just acquired the book you mentioned above, Dona Blanca of Navarre, by Don Francisco Navarro Villoslada, published in 1854. This is the ORIGINAL copy! Of course it is in a very fragile condition, but outside of some loose pages, overall it is in fair condition.

    If you are interested in purchasing this book, please send me an email, with an offer.

    Thank you for your time,

    Lenora Peralta

  3. I enjoyed coming across your photos. they helped me even to correct a couple of my pictures from 1982, which I misinterpreted. I was once teaching photography, and now am working on some self financed books through “blurb”. In about 3 month it will be printed and you could find it on the computer under my name.

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