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- by Don Harris

The town of Olite is a Medieval gem. In fact, it has been declared a National Monument. The Royal Palace is one of the most luxurious in Europe, and the altarpiece of the Church of Santa María is an exquisite treasure. The carved wooden altar cross is especially moving.

You can stay in the summer castle of the Carlos the Noble, King of Navarra (right) -- for the price of a motel in the USA. The castle is one of many "Paradors", special hotels operated by the Spanish government. Outfitted with taste and filled with hand made regional artifacts, the castle has stained glass windows and Gothic arcades.

The province of Navarra is also famous for its inimitable Piquillos de Pimiento - a key ingredient for a gourmet paella, and for chorizos and stews. A pinch of it in our gazpacho sets it apart from the rest. Actually, the town of Lodosa where the smoked piquillo peppers are prepared by hand is close by Olite. La Tienda.com carries both the peppers and the gazpacho.

Close by, in a field along the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela, you can visit an octagonal church in Eunate. It was built by the crusading Knights Templar, who were inspired by the architecture of Jerusalem. Also close by is Puente La Reina, the point where the pilgrimage route of Navarra and Aragón merge. It is filled with a rich legacy of art, including the church known as El Crucifijo because of a poignant crucifix carved by a pious German artist.


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