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Zugarramurdi

Navarra

Zugarramurdi is, in appearance, a village like so many others in the Navarrese Pyrenees; with its low houses, its white walls, its church and its few inhabitants. The place remains very similar to how it was about four centuries ago, around 1610.

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Zugarramurdi is, in appearance, a village like so many others in the Navarrese Pyrenees; with its low houses, its white walls, its church and its few inhabitants. The place remains very similar to how it was about four centuries ago, around 1610.

But with all Zugarramurdi’s beauty, there isn’t anything else in it known as much as the Witches Museum and its history behind are. It started in the nearby lands of Labort, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, with the arrival of a judge called Pierre de Lancre to whom King Henry IV of France had commissioned to cleanse the country of witches. The appearance of the terrible Lancre, who soon would have an excellent curriculum as inquisitor and professional of bonfires, made many people run away, and some of them ended up in Zugarramurdi.

But the thing is that on this side of the Pyrenees, there were also resentful and powerful gentlemen who requested the presence of the witch hunters. And there were rumours that in the impressive caves of Zugarramurdi there were meetings with the Devil himself; including rituals of adoration to the Beast in which some men and women of the village would receive, in exchange, powers beyond the human.

The Inquisition of Logroño set out to stop this outbreak, and sent its representatives to investigate, arrest, incarcerate and torture, and that’s precisely what they did. The well-known and horrendous process ended with several people burned alive in the capital of Navarra, in November 1610, but in that court there was one member who disagreed with the others. An inquisitor who refused to take for granted accusations based on gossip, testimonies of children and confessions of adults subjected to a not so nice treatment by the Inquisition.

His name was Alfonso de Salazar y Frías, and he dedicated the following months to travel around the region which was overflowed with such allegations and concluded that there was not a single test that could resist a serious and sensible analysis. He made a devastating report that revealed the extent to which the inquisitorial practices were being delirious, inhuman and contrary to all reason and all justice. Today, few people know the name of Salazar and how he went ahead of his time, probably saving hundreds and hundreds of lives.

This way the Council of the Supreme Inquisition took note and turned the story around, making the witch hunts disappear in Spain a century earlier than even in England and Germany. In both places, they also reached very high levels of horror, but the reputation of the Spanish Inquisition remains as the worst of all in the collective memories.


Zugarramurdi

Calle Lapitztegia, 1 (Ayto. Zugarramurdi)
31710 Zugarramurdi
(+34) 948 59 90 60

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