Where do I come from?

Navarre (Navarra in Spanish) shares 163 kms of border with France to the north and adjoins the Spanish provinces of La Rioja and Zaragoza to the south. To the east is the province Huesca; to the west are Gipuzkoa and Araba. Navarra is a small province of only 4,023 square miles, but it is possible to go from mountain to desert climate in less than 150 km.

Map of Spain and Navarre

The province is geographically divided in three main areas, the Mountains, the Middle Area, and the Ribera. Navarra's Middle Area is history. Kings, abbots, fortresses, castles, palaces: here the centuries slide among wind, clouds, hills, vineyards, and grain fields. The Middle Area is divided into three strips: Western, Central, and Eastern. The Western Middle Area is called Tierra Estella, referring to the land that surrounds its capital, the city of Estella, my place of birth.

King Sancho Ramírez founded the city of Estella-Lizarra over an ancient Vascon village known as Lizarra in 1090 AD. It then became a fortified Franks village, aiding pilgrims on their way to Santiago (de Compostela). King Sancho gave the city a regional code of laws, known as Fuero de Estella, by which the conflicts within the city were decided.

During the XII century, Estella became a sanctuary city for pilgrims, and several churches, hospitals, and monasteries were built. By the XIII century, Estella was head of the county with its three castles defending the south border of the Navarre Kingdom.

Several local conflicts and disputes during the XIV and XV centuries weakened the city and the Navarre kingdom. A civil war started in 1451 between two noble families of the kingdom, the Beaumonteses and the Agramonteses. The consequences of this conflict, combined with an outbreak of the plague between the years 1504 and 1507, led to the conquest of Navarra by king Ferdinand II (the Catholic) of Aragón in 1512.

Under the annexation of the Catholic Monarchs, Estella slowly and steadily developed into a service and trade center, a status which lasted until the beginning of the XIX century. After the Peninsular War against the Napoleonic army, Estella became the center of the Carlist Wars to establish who would claim the Spanish throne. The arrival of the XX century brought calm until the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The city continued its expansion during Franco's dictatorship with several urban expansions. Nowadays, Estella remains as the service and trade hub of the county, yet keeping its medieval spirit.