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Visit Olite

Olite is a small town in the Navarra province of Spain, part of the Spanish Basque country. The town is located about 40 kilometers south of Pamplona, the capital of the province. In the centre of the town is a beautiful castle-palace.

Explore Olite

Olite has a beautiful medieval centre and parts of the thick defensive Roman walls that once surrounded the town still remain. At the heart of the town is the fabulous Palace of the Kings of Navarre and surrounding this are the narrow streets of the old town.

Olite centre

Exploring the narrow streets of the town does not take long but is a pleasure. The tall buildings of the town vary in style and many have attractive balconies. Some of these are the attractive filled in balconies that are particularly popular in northern Spain.

Often the buildings have coats of arms decorating their facades as well.

There are two churches in the centre. The oldest is Saint Peter's church which was built in Romanesque style but has the addition of a 54 meter tall Gothic tower which dominates the Olite skyline. The church was further added to in Baroque times. It has a lovely Romanesque cloister.

The church of Santa Maria was started in the 13th century and is Gothic in style, though has Cistercian influences. Inside it has a wonderful Renaissance altarpiece made up of lots of deeply coloured paintings of bible scenes.

Other religious buildings include a 13th century convent, the Convent of San Fransisco, and a 13th century monastery, the Monastery of Santa Engracia,  though this was largely rebuilt in the 16th century.

The old palace of Olite is another notable building. The Palace of the Theobolds was built in the 12 and 13th centuries and improved in the 15th century. This building has now been turned into the Parador of Olite, an attractive hotel which has kept its medieval flavour.

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Of course the star attraction in Olite is the new palace, the Palace of the Kings of Navarre, also known as Olite Castle. In the 15th century Charles III decided to build a new palace next to the old one and this became one of his official residences. 

The Palace complex with its high walls, towers and moats was considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. Beautiful gardens were added and elaborate furnishings. Charles even kept exotic animals such as giraffes and lions. This quickly became the favourite residence of King Charles III and the Seat of the Royal Court of the Kings of Navarre was established here.

Sadly after the invasion of Navarre in 1512 it was only used as an occasional residence by the Viceroys and began to deteriorate. It was then set fire to during the Spanish War of Independence in 1813 to stop Napoleon's troops from fortifying it.

In 1923 a competition was held to find the best plan for restoration. This was won by the architects José and Javier Yarnoz and work started in 1937. The gardens and interior decorations have been lost but the castle today has regained much of its former beauty.

The castle has a notable Gothic influence and a Mudejar influence from the Moorish artisans that helped build the original castle in the 15th century. The castle is open for visits and from its various towers you can get great views over the town.

Olite is a wine town and there are various vineyards open for visits. It is also home to a medieval festival in August and a Classic Theatre festival in the summer.

Olite old palac

Attractions nearby

Olite is on the edge of the Bardenas Realas desert and makes a good base for exploring the desert.

Pamplona has a beautiful old town and is best known for its annual Fermin Festival and the "running of the bulls".

You can find more local travel ideas in the Navarra, La Rioja, Basque Country guide.

See also: 

Photos of Olite

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • olite-centre
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  • olite-convent-san-francisco
  • olite-galeria-subterraneas
  • olite-palace-1850
  • olite-parador
  • olite-santa-maria-altar

Map of Olite and places to visit

 
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Olite places to visit

Sanguesa

Sanguesa

Sanguesa is a very interesting town with lovely old streets, mansions and churches and the remains of a royal palace.

Sanguesa guide
Pamplona

Pamplona

Pamplona is famous throughout the world for its bull-running festival that takes place in July every year.

Pamplona guide
Tarazona

Tarazona

Tarazona has lots of Moorish architecture including a cathedral which is a mix of gothic and mudejar style architecture.

Tarazona guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Navarra, La Rioja, Basque Country

 
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