Coordinates: 43°0′33″N 1°19′12″W / 43.00917°N 1.32000°W / 43.00917; -1.32000
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Orreaga (Basque)
Orreaga / Roncesvalles
Flag of Roncesvalles
Coat of arms of Roncesvalles
Roncesvalles is located in Spain
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 43°0′N 1°19′W / 43.000°N 1.317°W / 43.000; -1.317
Autonomous communityNavarre
Comarca / EskualdeaAuñamendi
Judicial districtAgoitz / Aóiz
 • MayorLuis Echeverría Echávarren
 • Total15.1 km2 (5.8 sq mi)
923 m (3,028 ft)
Highest elevation
1,564 m (5,131 ft)
Lowest elevation
910 m (2,990 ft)
 • Total21
 • Density1.4/km2 (3.6/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code948
WebsiteOfficial website

Roncesvalles (/ˈrɒnsəvæl(z)/ RON-sə-val(z), Spanish: [ronθezˈβaʎes]; Basque: Orreaga [oreaɣa]; Aragonese: Ronzesbals [ronθezˈbals]; French: Roncevaux [ʁɔ̃s(ə)vo]) is a small village and municipality in Navarre, northern Spain. It is situated on the small river Urrobi at an altitude of some 900 metres (3,000 ft) in the Pyrenees, about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the French border as the crow flies, or 21 kilometres (13 mi) by road.


Battle of Roncevaux[edit]

Roncesvalles is famous in history and legend for the death of Roland in 778, during the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, when Charlemagne's rearguard was destroyed by Basque tribes.[2]

When a party of horsemen from the Kingdom of Navarre arrived at the Duchy of Burgundy in 1439 to negotiate Prince Charles of Navarre's marriage to Agnes of Cleves, the Duke of Burgundy's niece, the prior of Roncesvalles was their chief ambassador. He was described as a "noble knight".[3]

The small collegiate church contains several curious relics associated with Roland. The battle is said to have been fought in the valley known as Valcarlos, which is now occupied by a hamlet bearing the same name, and in the adjoining pass of Ibañeta (Roncevaux Pass). Both of these are traversed by the main road leading north from Roncesvalles to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in the French Basque Country.

Santa María de Roncesvalles[edit]

Since the Middle Ages, this collegiate church of Santa María de Orreaga/Roncesvalles has been a favorite resting place for Catholic pilgrims along the French Way path, the most popular variant of the Way of St. James, since it is the first place to have a rest after crossing the French Pyrenees. The church, a former pilgrim's hospice, was built at the end of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth centuries. The oldest building is the Chapel of Sancti Spiritus, or "Charlemagne's Silo" built in Romanesque style in the 12th century.[2]

Every year thousands of pilgrims begin their way to Santiago de Compostela at Roncesvalles.[2]

The area was also the site of the 1813 Battle of Roncesvalles during the Peninsular War.

Chains found in a Roncesvalles church said to inspire the coat of arms of Navarre. Photographed at the Museum of Roncesvalles

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Municipal Register of Spain 2018. National Statistics Institute.
  2. ^ a b c Orreaga/Roncesvalles", Kingdom of Navarre, Turismo de Navarra
  3. ^ de Monstrelet, Enguerrand (1840). The chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, continued by others. Tr. by T. Johnes. 12 vols. [and] Plates. marriage of agnes of cleves charles of navarre.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Roncesvalles". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 689.

External links[edit]

43°0′33″N 1°19′12″W / 43.00917°N 1.32000°W / 43.00917; -1.32000