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Title: Roncesvalles  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Luzaide/Valcarlos, Camino de Santiago, Murchante, Mirafuentes, Nazar, Navarre
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Coat of arms of Roncesvalles
Coat of arms
Roncesvalles is located in Spain
Location in Spain
Country Spain
Autonomous community Navarre
Province Navarre
Comarca Auñamendi
Judicial district Aóiz
 • Mayor Luis Echeverría Echávarren
 • Total 15.1 km2 (5.8 sq mi)
Elevation 923 m (3,028 ft)
Highest elevation 1,564 m (5,131 ft)
Lowest elevation 910 m (2,990 ft)
Population (2009)
 • Total 30
 • Density 2.0/km2 (5.1/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Orreagatarra
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 31650
Dialing code 948
Website Official website

Roncesvalles (Spanish pronunciation: ; Basque: Orreaga , Aragonese: Ronzesbals , Italian: Roncisvalle , French: Roncevaux ) is a small village and municipality in Navarre, northern Spain. It is situated on the small river Urrobi at an altitude of some 900 metres in the Pyrenees, about 4 kilometres from the French frontier as the crow flies, or 21 kilometres by road.

Roncesvalles is famous in history and legend for the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland in 778, during the battle of Roncevaux Pass, when Charlemagne's rear guard was destroyed by Basque tribes.

When a party of horsemen from the Kingdom of Navarre arrived at the Duchy of Burgundy in 1439 to negotiate Prince Charles of Navarre's marriage to Agnes of Cleves, the Duke of Burgundy's niece, the prior of Roncesvalles was their chief ambassador. He was described as a "noble knight". [1]

The small collegiate church contains several curious relics associated with Roland. The battle is said to have been fought in the picturesque valley known as Valcarlos, which is now occupied by a hamlet bearing the same name, and in the adjoining pass of Ibañeta (Roncevaux Pass). Both of these are traversed by the main road leading north from Roncesvalles to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in the French Basque Country.

Since the Middle Ages, this collegiate church has been a favorite resting place for Catholic pilgrims along the Way of St. James, since it is the first place to have a rest after crossing the French Pyrenees. Every year thousands of pilgrims begin their way to Santiago de Compostela at Roncesvalles.

The area was also the site of the 1813 Battle of Roncesvalles during the Peninsular War.


  1. ^ de Monstrelet, Enguerrand. The chornicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, continued by others. Tr. by T. Johnes. 12 vols. [and] Plates. 


  • Medieval History of Navarre. The Colegiata of Roncesvalles
  • Orreaga / Roncesvalles in online Basque encyclopedia (Spanish)

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