Things to Do in Tudela

The Capital City of La Ribera

The second city under the domain of Navarra possesses an attractive cultural heritage, and it is famous for the high-quality goods it produces from its orchard.

Planning Your Trip to Tudela

The first thing you have to see in Tudela is the Catedral de Santa María, but there are other buildings and museums that can occupy you for an entire day. This city is the closest to the impressive Parque de las Bárdenas Reales, which is a great place to spend a few days partaking in active tourism. If you’re a bird lover, you can also go up to the Parque de la Laguna de Pitillas. One possible excursion is to follow the N-232 to visit the Riojan town of Alfaro, from which you can later go down to the monumental and Balnearean town of Fitero. Discover all the wonderful restaurants and hotels in Tudela in our pages about eating and staying in Tudela.

Want to Get to Know this Place?

Despite the existence of archeological remains from the Iron and Roman Ages, the development of Tudela didn’t really take off until the Moorish domination. At the beginning of the 9th century, an important medina was erected, dominated by Armùs ben Yusuf, governor of the Marca Superior. A century later, Tudela fell to the Banu Qasi dynasty, leading to its Golden Age. Its ruler, Musa ibn Musa was considered the “third king of Spain” after Abd Al-Rahman II and Ordoño I of Asturias. For five years, Tudela was an independent Taifa kingdom that coined its own currency.

In 1119, Tudela was conquered by the Navarro-Aragonese king Alfonso I the Fighter, which meant that it fell under the jurisdiction of Nájera. But with his death in 1134, Tudela was incorporated into the kingdom of Pamplona, and it has been a part of Navarra since then.

During the 12th century, the Navarran kings favored this town highly. Sancho VI of Sabio made it his permanent winter residence, which led to the future Sancho VII the Strong. This Tudelan king exercised the principal sponsorships during his reign. In those days, there were important Muslim and Jewish communities in the locality. Banjamín de Tudela is a distinguished member of the Jewish community. He went on long trips to the Mediterranean and wrote the book Séfer Masaot, which is about the Jewish communities that he visited on his journeys.

King Carlos III granted the city-ship to this town in 1390. It was a city that was controlled by the Agramontés, supporters of the ruling dynasty. At the time of the Castilian invasion of 1512, they withstood a difficult siege until September 9th, the day on which they surrendered. The king Fernando the Catholic decided to win over its inhabitants by going to the city himself to swear their jurisdiction on October 4th, and in the following year he granted the city the title of “Very Noble and Very Loyal” despite being a focus of insurgents.

In 1516, the Court of the Inquisition was installed in the city. It had previously been in Pamplona, but Tudela was deemed safer. However, this privilege was not enough to end the rebellion. It was one of the cities that rose up against the Castilian domination in 1521, supporting the third attempt by the Albrets to recover the territory. A few months later, it fell back into the control of the Castilians.

After the expulsion of the Moors in 1609 by Felipe III, various religious orders were settled in the city during the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 1808, in the midst of the Guerra de la Independencia, the Battle of Tudela took place. The city was made a point of interest for the French invaders because of its strategic position near Zaragoza. Napoleon’s victory in Tudela was reflected in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Old Villanueva Street Tudela
Old Picture of Villanueva Street in Tuleda

Later, Tudela began to develop a flourishing economy based around its orchards. Little by little, it became one of the most prosperous villages in Navarra thanks to a strong horticultural industry that really took off in the 1950s.

The main monumental attraction to see in Tudela is the Catedral de Santa María, constructed in 1180 on the foundations of the old Mezquita Mayor. It was collegiate until it was incorporated into the Diócesis de Tarazona. Its Puerta del Juicio Final stands out with its heavily decorated 8 columns and vaulted arches. The current tower is from the 17th century because the original one collapsed. The Museo de Tudela is located in its cloisters and the dependencies of the annex Palacio Decanal, from the 15th century. Here, you can see diverse archaeological artifacts and pieces of sacred and worldly art. It displays a painting on a table, El Juicio Final, which is attributed to El Bosco and various canvases of the Baroque painter Vicente Berdusán.

The Iglesia de la Magdalena is the best display of Romanesque art in the city. Erected in the mid-12th century, it is highlighted by its principal door with four sculpted vaulted arches and an interesting Pantocrátor in its tympanum. The Iglesia de San Nicolás was a Romanesque temple that has been completely remodeled in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The tympanum of the main entrance shows an interesting stone representation of the Santísima Trinidad. This church was the first tomb of Sancho VII, before his body was moved to Roncesvalles. The other great temple in Tudela is the Iglesia de San Jorge el Real, a Mannerist construction from the 17th century that pertains to the Compañía de Jesús until its expulsion in 1767. It thus passed into the hands of the monarchy, which is why “El Real” is in its name. In its interior, it guards a main altarpiece from the 18th century and two oil paintings by Vicente Berdusán. In the cloister, you’ll find the Edificio Castel Ruis, the ancient Jesuit convent, which is currently the cultural center and the site of the Museo Muñoz Sola, which contains an interesting collection of French paintings by César Muñoz Sola.

The Palacio del Marqués de Huarte is a Baroque building erected on the foundations of the ancient walls. Its façade is decorated with murals from the 18th century, and its interior has a magnificent central courtyard with a Baroque staircase. Another unique building is the Palacio de San Adrián, the historic residence of the influential family Magallón, Marquis of San Adrián. It was constructed in the 16th century, and its façade displays the wooden eaves with figurative motifs of vegetation. Its central courtyard is full of Grecian mythological murals. Finally, it is also worth seeing the Plateresque façade of the Casa de Almirante, with the figure of Hercules with the anthropomorphic representations of Virtue and Vice.

Imagen cedida por el Archivo de Turismo “Reyno de Navarra”

In the surrounding areas, you’ll find the Parque Natural de las Bardenas Reales, an enormous expanse of semi-desert upon which time and wind have wrought capricious forms of great geological value.

When it comes to food, Tudela is known for its goods produced from an orchard in which delicious vegetables grow. The most famous are the asparagus and the artichokes.

Main Images: Natursports / Shutterstock.com

Essentials

Plaza Nueva de Tudela
Parque de las Bardenas Reales

Practical Information

Coordinates

42° 3′ 55″ N, 1° 36′ 24″ W

Distances

93 km from Pamplona

85 km from Zaragoza

329 km from Madrid

Parking

You can find parking in the Plaza de la Constitución, the Camino de San Marcial, or the Plaza San Salvador.

Altitude

264 m

Population

35,369 (as of 2013)

Semana Santa (especially “el Volatín” on Glorious Saturday, and “la Bajada del Ángel” on the Sunday of Resurrection)

San Juan (around June 21st)

Santa Ana (July 24th-30th)

Carnaval

Fiesta de la Verdura (Aptil-May)

Fiestas de la Azucarera, which culminate in the Fiesta de Santa Ana

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