This temple in the Navarran town of Ujué captures wonderfully how convulsive and dynamic the times of the Middle Ages were in Spain. A time of constant clashes against the territories of Muslim rule, the so-called Reconquest, and also of clashes between Christians, since Spain did not exist as such, and in reality it was a set of kingdoms, counties or principalities independent of each other, such as, the kingdom of Navarre, nestled between the powerful Aragón and Castile.
Church of Santa Maria de Ujué
Although today we see a sanctuary with elements built in both the 12th and 14th centuries, the truth is that its origins are older. There was already a pre-Romanesque church here that was replaced by another from the first Romanesque of the 11th century, ordered to be built by order of the Aragonese king Sancho Ramírez.
But that temple was partially demolished in the 14th century by order of another king, Carlos II el Malo, a fervent believer in the image of the Virgen de Ujué, and for this reason he decided to expand his church, albeit with a style typical of the time, that is, with gothic forms. It kept the triple apse and a tower attached to the south wall. But its exterior appearance changed it radically with the appearance of a fortress based on crenellated towers or the creation of a walkway around thebuilding.
A flared cover with interesting sculptural details is also Gothic, and the most varied thematically. The same figures are distinguished that recall the agricultural work in the area, especially those related to grapes and wine, that we see scenes from the New Testament or a Last Supper with the curious presence of a rooster. Although curiously, it is the representation of the Three Wise Men following a star, but if we look at it there are actually four characters, since King Carlos II appears dressed as a monk.
Inside there is also that duality between Romanesque art and Gothic, since a railing separates the initial header from the nave center from the 14th century. Because it is very curious to see that the triple apse was respected, but its respective extensions with three Romanesque naves were demolished, and only one nave was raised later. A very wide nave divided into two sections, with a roof supported by polygonal pillars, to which grommets with edges are attached and culminated with carved capitals with plant, animal and human motifs.
The fence that separates these two spaces and the two periods, also serves in some way to protect the image carved in wood of Santa María de Ujué, a figure from the 12th century, which according to legend is the origin of all the church and even the population.