Olite

OLITE & THE ROYAL PALACE

Olite Tourism Guide

The Super Mario like castle of Olite can easily bring out the child in anyone who visits. There are lots of towers to climb, each offering spectacular views of the rest of the castle, the town & the surrounding vineyards. The rest of Olite is very pleasant and although small, seems to cater well to visitors. A perfect excursion from Pamplona or stopping point on the way to see the Bardenas Reales desert.

The Royal Palace of Olite
Olite’s claim to fame is definitely the the Royal Palace of Olite. The palace is often referred to as Olite Castle, probably because it looks more like a military bastion than a residence. It was, however, used primarily as a home for Charles III, the Noble, King of Navarre. In the 14th century, the king commissioned a new palace to be constructed next to the original palace from the 11th century. The Royal Palace of Olite became his favorite residence and is where the Seat of Royal Court of the Kingdom of Navarre was established.

The French-born Charles was more known for his luxurious lifestyle than for his military campaigns. The evidence of which could be seen within the palace’s furnishings and its many courtyards and hanging gardens. In addition, the king kept many exotic animals at the palace such as giraffes and lions. During King Charles reign, the Royal Palace of Olite was said to be one of the most beautiful of Europe.

 
Royal Palace of Olite
Royal Palace of Olite

In 1512, Navarre was invaded and the palace began to deteriorate. Afterwards, it was only used occasionally as a residence for noblemen. Then, during the Peninsular War in 1813, the palace was intentionally burned by the Navarre General, Espoz y Mina, in an attempt to prevent the french troops from using it for strategic purposes. As a result, all of the furnishings and palatial artifact were lost and the palace was left in terrible shape. In 1937, a restoration of the palace began and continued for another 30 years until it was finally completed.

Today, the Royal Palace of Olite is only a shell of its former self but it still retains much of its fairy tale characteristics. There are countless towers that are scattered throughout the palace that conjure up images of Cinderella, Rapunzel, and even Super Mario. Each one of them is slightly different and has its own appeal. The towers are a lot of fun to climb and have really amazing views of the rest of the castle, the town, and the surrounding landscape filled with vineyards. In addition, there is a sense of disorder to the palace that is the result of continuous expansion efforts made throughout the years. These expansions were never built according to an overall plan. The towers and overall disorder only add to the palace’s charm.

Olite Tourism
Town Hall of Olite

Other Points of Interest
Although the main attraction to Olite is, without a doubt, the French Gothic palace, the town itself is very lovely. Olite boasts two churches within its small walled boarders. The oldest of which is San Pedro which lies in the opposite corner of the town from the Royal Palace. San Pedro is from the 12th century and features an impressive Romanesque facade and cloister. The other church of Olite is the Santa Maria (13th century) which is located directly next to the palace.

Olite makes for a great excursion for those visiting Pamplona and wanting to get a little deeper into Navarre. The village still feels relatively untouched and the locals have done a great job of keeping the town to a high standard. There are plenty of nice hotels including the Parador which occupies part of the old palace. There are also plenty of great restaurants and the surrounding vineyards supply tasty reds and rosés.

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The Bardenas Reales desert is a short 15-20 minutes drive from Olite. Those interested in visiting might want to consider using Olite as their base for exploring the surroundings.

Medieval Festival
Every year during the second weekend of August, Olite hosts a large medieval festival. The town is flooded with artisans, puppeteers, archers and jugglers. Knight tournaments are also held and the entire town is dressed in medieval costumes. There is medieval food and basically anything you can image that is related to the middle ages.

Hotels in Olite

Hotels in Olite

Get In & Around

Get In & Around

Once you are in Olite, everything is reachable by foot.

Arriving to Olite

PLANE – The closest airport to Olite is in Pamplona which is 37 km away. The airport of San Sebastian / Hondarribia is about 140 km away (1h 35 min) and the airport of Bilbao is 215 km away (about 2 h 15 min).

CAR – Olite is situated 42km south of Pamplona, right by the AP-15 highway. The AP-15 is a toll road that goes from Tudela to Irurzun. In Irurzun, the road becomes the A-15 (free) and continues in the direction of San Sebastian and France. In Tudela, the AP-15 connects with the toll road AP-68 which goes from Bilbao to Zaragoza.

BUS – Olite is serviced by the ALSA and Conda bus companies. There is approximately one bus every hour from Olite to Pamplona (from 6:30 am until 7:20 pm). Prices to Pamplona with the bus cost are a few euros more than the train, however, there are many more buses than trains per day.

TRAIN – There is a train station in Olite with several trains per day traveling to and from Pamplona. The trip lasts around 35-45 minutes and costs around 3-4 € one way. Check the Renfe page for up to date timetables or to purchase your ticket online.

Other Places of Interest in the Surroundings

In the Surroundings

Map of Olite

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