In Spain, it would be bizarre if you didn’t know someone who has or has had a piece of furniture manufactured in Nájera because this town of La Rioja has furnished half of Spain for decades.
But the thing is that we are not going to tell you much about furniture, but about others things that have happened in this place since the Arabs gave it the name of Náxara, meaning something like a place between rocks.
The area was no man’s land for a long time, and Moors and Christians fought here every Monday morning until King Sancho Garcés managed to control the territory. It was around the year 923, very soon after the Muslims destroyed Pamplona, when the royal court moved to Nájera, this way the city gained the momentum for what it would be its medieval splendour. From those times there is, for example, the remains of Mota Castle and the Citadel ones, but if there is a building that you should see here, for sure, is the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real.
Its story begins with the usual miracle in the Middle Ages. Is the year 1044, the king goes hunting and boom, he finds in a cave an image of the Virgin next to a bell and a bouquet of lilies, so what should they do next? Of course, it was necessary to build a monastery in the place.
But the monarch also wanted the building to be famous and important, and the best thing for that was to bring a few relics to keep inside. An idea that, truthfully, was not very good, because when they tried to remove the remains of Saint Felice from his grave, the bishop in charge noticed how a mysterious force pulled him away from the grave and terribly deformed his face, at the same time a storm broke out which made all those attending the exhumation run away.
However, King García Sánchez was not impressed by this bad experience and decided to bring the ashes of Saint Milan from the Monastery of Suso. This time he went in person to direct the matter, but the oxen that carried the holy remains stopped just down the valley, and nobody managed to move them an inch. Disturbing, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, there is no lack of illustrious bodies in Santa Maria la Real. Here are the tombs of a long list of kings, queens and nobles, as well as the cave of the legend and many works of art and objects which come from a time when, in one way or another, history was turning and the Spain that we know today was starting to take form.