The Royal Palace of Olite
The Royal Palace of Olite is one of the most important historical – artistic sites in Navarre. It is currently divided into three parts: The Old Palace (the present-day Parador); the ruins of the Chapel of St Jorge; and the New Palace, which is the part of the monument that can be visited.
The building now to be visited was constructed between 1402 and 1424 and comprises a complex set of chambers, gardens and moats, surrounded by high walls interspersed with numerous towers to produce a spectacular outline against the sky. The work was commissioned by Charles III, the Noble, (King of Navarre from 1387 to 1425). As his nickname indicates, this French-born King (Evreux) was better known for his love of culture and luxurious palatial lifestyle than for his military campaigns. This is all too evident in this impressive heritage left to us; a Palace which was once one of the most luxurious ones in Europe.
Charles III, the Noble, married Leonor de Trastámara in 1375, who gave him eight children, including Blanca, Queen of Navarre from 1425 to 1441 and mother of the Prince of Viana. This family enjoyed a relaxed life at the court of Olite right up to the early 16th century.
1512 saw the conquest of Navarre by the Crown of Castile. From then onwards the Palace started to deteriorate, being only used as an occasional residence for viceroys.
In 1813, during the War of Independence, the Palace was deliberately set on fire by the Navarre General, Espoz y Mina, to prevent the French troops from taking a stronghold there. As a result, all the furnishings and part of the structure were burned down, leaving the Palace semi-derelict and empty.
In 1923, the Provincial Council of Navarra organised a contest to prepare a restoration project. The work commenced in 1937 and was to last approximately 30 years.
The Palace is so beautiful that it can be visited without a guide. Simply let yourself be drawn by the beauty of its architecture and surroundings. However, if you’d like to really get to know its history, then don’t miss the guided tours in which you’ll get every little detail on this Palace and its inhabitants. If you prefer to take a tour by yourself, but you’d also like to receive full information, then you can rent an audio guide.
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