Roman bridge at Cirauqui

crossing the Roman bridge

the hike between Puente la Reina and Estella was challenging — the temperature reached 26 degrees Celsius by the time we reached our destination and we had trouble finding lunch and a place to refill water during the day. we also learned what the sun can do to the back of a pair of legs if given motive and opportunity.

the name of this town — Cirauqui — means “nest of vipers” in the Basque language, alluding either to the snakes found among the rocks on this steep hill or bandits that roamed the hills nearby. the town grew in three stages beginning in the 9th century, and some of the nicer manor houses remain with familial crests above central doorways throughout town. one of the more interesting monuments in the town is the Civil War monument, which only lists victims on the Nationalist side (fighting for Francisco Franco). while many towns removed the ubiquitous monuments after Franco’s death, loyalty to the Falange movement that brought him to power remained strong in Navarra and in some places these memorials remain.

as the title of this post also alludes to, we climbed over a Roman bridge just outside of Cirauqui. while much of the Camino follows old an old Roman road, the path down the hill leaving Cirauqui and over this bridge are the best-preserved of the entire route, by far. granted, some of the paving stones were repaired or replaced during the Middle Ages, but the essence remains — and besides, a bridge from the Middle Ages is still a sight more impressive than anything I walk over on a daily basis. as our cultural guide explains, the method for constructing our modern roadbeds doesn’t differ much from those used by the Romans. a shallow trench is dug and filled with a layer of gravel, tamped down, bordered by large, vertically-set blocks, and filled in with closely-fit paving stones. it’s interesting to think that the workers digging out, marking off, filling in and paving over Trumpy Road near our house are following in the footsteps of the people (probably local slaves) that built this road and bridge thousands of miles and years away.

an “early Gothic” bridge that dates from “only” the medieval era