Lesaka – Navarra, Spain

Lesaka belongs to the Cinco Villas (five towns) area (Bortziriak in Basque) in north-west Navarre, very close to the border with France and the city of Donosti-San Sebastián. The town has undergone a major transformation in a short time, from an eminently rural and livestock-rearing place to one of the major industrial centres of the area. Nevertheless, it has managed to conserve all its charm of the past and certain structures, such as ironworks, flour mills, cider cellars or carpentry workshops from the 18th century. Since that era these activities have been a source of wealth for the town, as shown in its many elegant buildings.

Surrounded by mountains and crossed by the river Onin, Lesaka is divided into a number of neighbourhoods and is protected by its parish church, that of San Martín de Tours. Located on a hill, it is considered one of the most monumental churches in Navarre; Gothic and Baroque combine to make up a magnificent example of religious architecture, almost on a cathedral scale. The church is also home to the Virgin of Carmona and an organ that has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.

The town centre reflects the passing of time and conserves its traditional architecture. Windows and doors adorn the facades overlooking the cobbled streets. Without doubt, however, the most characteristic image of the town is the stone bridge over the river and the Kaxerna (or Zabaleta) tower next to it. It is a fine example of a noble 15th-century armoury house sculpted in stone. Throughout Lesaka there are other noble towers such as that of the Minyurinea family from the 14th century, considered the oldest building in the town.

An excellent time to visit Lesaka is in July. Like Pamplona, it celebrates the festivity of San Fermín, and one of the most colourful features are the traditional dances that are done on the stone walls along the river Onin.

Megalithic station of Agiña.
Nature lovers will really enjoy the megalithic station at Agiña, very near Lesaka. Here prehistory blends into the landscape. Burial mounds, dolmens and cromlechs stand alongside the modern monument to Father Donostia by Jorge Oteiza. The area is ideal for scenic walks.

Three circular pathshave been laid out to visit different points of interest in the station, which recalls the area’s past and customs. The first links Lesaka, the old ‘Txikito” railway line and the megalithic station and immortalises the history of iron- making in the area. The second and third paths pass by a large number of prehistoric remains.