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Travel Europe France The French and Spanish port - Saint Jean Pied de Port

The French and Spanish port - Saint Jean Pied de Port

Saint Jean Pied-de-Port, France, The city view from citadel

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Basque country is a really huge city, but it is very familiar. It is the city where the different routes to Compostela in Spain come together for one draw. But you do not need to be a pilgrim to visit this charming town with its medieval citadel designed by Vauban.

The Basque name of this town is Donibane Garazi. The city is located in the Pyrénées Atlantiques (64). The sector is located on the border with Spain, in the far South West of France. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is located 8 km from the Spanish border, 76 km from Pamplona, 55 km from Bayonne and Biarritz (the Basque coast) to 120 km and 100 km from Lourdes to Pau. The city owes its name to its location, namely at the foot of the Pyrenees, in particular the Port of Col de Roncevaux. The first mention of the city dates from the 12th century when they started the construction of the church.

The Saint-Jacques-Port is one of the entrances to the city. This port was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is through this gate that all pilgrims pass through on their long journey to Compostela, and it owes her name to the port. It offers a nice view of the plain of Cize.
The French Gate takes its name from the fact that it looks from there to France. The Spanish port opens into the Roman port of Bordeaux and goes to Astorga. Later this road "Route Napoleon" and now Route du Maréchal Harispeis the place from where the pilgrims have to leave and around seven hours later to come out in the Spanish Roncevaux.

The facades of the houses in the Rue de la Citadelle and Rue de l'Espagne between the Spanish Gate and the Church, the Rue de l'Espagne, telling the lintels of the doors more about the history and occupations of the residents. Little further, in line with the Rue de l'Espagne, namely in the Rue de la Citadelle, you will find a very old house, built in 1510. At number 39 you will find the reception for the pilgrims.

The ramparts can be accessed by hiking on and has an overview of the city and the mountainous surroundings. Along the staircase will get to the Gate of Navarre, which was hewn out of the wall.

Church: Notre-Dame-du-bout-du-pont was built in the early 13th century.

The Roman Bridge or The Pont d'Eyheraberry (New Mill) over the Nive was actually built in 1640 and was a shortcut to Spain.
The Jai Alai is a pink wall with a bow and a square there. More people have no need or play Cesta Punta Pelote Basque.

The prison "of the bishops"

This impressive structure dates from the thirteenth century. In the building can find cells, a huge underground room and a waiting room. Every year in prison it`s held an exhibition about the road to Santiago de Compostela during the Middle Ages. The exhibition consists of six rooms in total. You will learn to know the pilgrim, comes to know why people undertook the journey, which the typical attributes of the pilgrims were and still are, the road went and how they could go fight inconveniences, and finally the arrival in Compostela.

The Citadel have 80 meters above the town, offers a magnificent view over the mountains and surrounding countryside. Because of its high altitude, this citadel is very important for defending and guarding the roads through this part of the Pyrenees. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the original medieval castle was replaced by the citadel. This was necessary because of the many conquest and religious wars that raged then. The castle was designed by Vauban, who also has many castles of France under his name. Similarly, the famous prison used in the game "La chasse au trésor". Thanks to the castle of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, which has about 600 m by 150 m, this city played an important role during the French Revolution. Now a college is housed in the old castle.

Tour with the tourist train
In the train you pass by the house-Mansart (now Town Hall), past the river Nive, the ramparts, the Roman bridge, the streets of the medieval city center and the typical houses. From the citadel can be seen a splendid view over the town, the surrounding mountains, the vineyard Irouléguy and nearby villages. This train runs from April to November 1st. The accompanying commentary is in French only.

Near Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port can be found Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, is a village, Donizaharre in Basque, a few kilometers from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port which was built in 15 BC by the Romans as a fortress chosen place. It was on the busy road between Bordeaux in France and Astorga in Spain, and was therefore a military base, a trading post and a toll place. The Roman camp was Pyrenaeus Imus called, which means "foot of the Pyrenees". The site was discovered in 1965 and became a historical monument in 1984. Baths were excavated and were found several items that are now on display in the nearby museum (amphorae, coins, pottery, glass containers, etc.). The museum is open from mid June to mid September.