Hospital of Santa Cristina de Somport

Hospital of Santa Cristina de Somport
Hospital of Santa Cristina de Somport

The Camino de Santiago was one of the greatest cultural routes that existed during the Middle Ages in Europe. Mainly in countries like France and especially Spain. And on the occasion of the Jacobean Route countless monuments were created and the artistic forms of the time expanded.


Remains of the Hospital of Santa Cristina de Somport

Of course many of those buildings were churches. But there were also other kinds, they were hostels or hospitals to welcome pilgrims. One of them was the Hospital de Santa Cristina de Somport. Although it was not really one more, it was one of the three most important in all of Christendom, along with Jerusalem and Great Saint Bernard in the Alps . Or at least, that's how it is stated in the Codex Calixtinus of the thirteenth century, the book that is the great reference to know the Jacobean Way in its time of maximum splendor.

And even more so when we talk about places like the Hospital de Santa Cristina which today are nothing more than a valuable archaeological site. A ruin of the great construction that was.

This hospital welcomed the pilgrims who crossed the Pyrenees from France to Spain over the Somport, the Summus Portus, a of the most complicated and hard stages of the entire itinerary. To its steep slopes one had toadd the frequent inclement weather. For this reason, in order to temporarily recover, the Santa Cristina Hospital could welcome the pilgrims for three days, giving them shelter, clothing and food. And it even gave burial, if someone came to die here.

In fact, the archaeological excavations carried out in recent decades allow us to see where that cemetery was, and the rest of the Hospital's facilities, including its Romanesque church, a small monastery, the prior's palace, various rooms and a small hermitage.


Hypothetical reproduction of the Santa Cristina Hospital

All this to welcome pilgrims who then continued their journey through Aragón passing through such important places as the Cathedral of Jaca or deviating to the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña.

It is estimated that since the monastery was founded, thousands of pilgrims passed through here, especially in its heyday during the 13th century. Although, then its decline would begin, first due to the problems between the Augustinians and the Dominicans who managed the place. And then, because there began to be many more pilgrims entering Spain through Navarra, specifically through the Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles.

So the decline of the Hospital would come, and that flow of visitors of yesteryear would never return. In addition, a fire at the beginning of the 18th century left it in a sorry state. And the final point would come after being destroyed during the War ofIndependence early 19th century. Reason why it was abandoned to its fate, until archeology has rescued it so that it can be studied.

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