PASS OF JACA IN THE SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA PILGRIM WAY

The story of the pilgrim way to Santiago de Compostela brings us back to a time thousands of years ago, when the Celts covered great distances, passing the Pyrenees in Spain crossed Jaca, until they arrived to "Finis Terrae", where they found peace for their soul.

With the harboring of Christianity and the discovery of the tomb of the apostle Santiago, the old way was filled with faithful pilgrims heading for the city of Santiago and making use of the natural passes available in the Pyrenees. The pass of Somport is the best known and the best preserved, and it is widely considered as the traditional pass.

From Somport, the Santiago Pilgrim Way starts in Spain down the Valley from the Franco-Hispanic border, reaching the ruins of the Hospital of Santa Cristina, one of the three most important hospitals on the road. It continues southwards to Canfranc's train station, passing next to the fortress of Coll de Ladrones and going on to the village of Canfranc, where the Romanesque Puente de Peregrinos (bridge of pilgrims) over the river Aragón is found.

As the valley gets wider,the pilgrim reaches Villanúa. In its parish church you can find Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (Our Lady of the Angels), a wooden Romanesque carving dating from the 10th century, the village of Araguej, with its little Romanesque church from the 11th century, the Chapel of San Juan and the prehistoric caves and dolmens.

In Castiello de Jaca, the Church of San Miguel (12th century) preserves some relics connected to Medieval pilgrim legends. In la Garcipollera, there stands the Church of Santa María de Iguacel (11th century), a former convent which is forerunner of the ajedrezado Jaqués (a typical chessboard pattern for the decoration of the frieze),as this building is previous to the Cathedral of Jaca, and where the visitor can see a seated image, some wooden carvings and a beautiful railing with spiral ornamentation.

If we continue we arrive to Jaca, where we can find the Cathedral of San Pedro (11th century), one of the characteristic and old construction of Romanesque art in Spain. It consists of a Basilica plan with three naves, divided in the inside with round and cruciform pillars, with three apses at its front and an ample doorway with two sections. The external decorations are the origin of the so-called ajedrezado Jaqués.

As you go on to Puente la Reina, you will find a road branching off towards Santa Cruz de la Serós, where you can visit two churches: Santa María, a former Benedictine Convent and San Caprasio. The pilgrim will finally reach the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña (St John of the mountain), cradle of the Kingdom of Aragón and crowning achievement of the Romanesque art of the Upper Aragón.