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Tudela, Navarre, Spain

Archeological excavations have shown that the area of Tudela has been populated since the lower paleolithic. The town of Tudela was founded by the Romans on Celt-Iberian settlements. Since then the town has been inhabited continuously. The Roman poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Epigrams Book IV, 55) “recalls in grateful verse” the town of Tutela next to his own native Bilbilis. The city was later taken under the Muslim emirate of Al-Hakam I in 802 by Amrus ibn Yusuf al-Muwalad.

At the beginning of the 9th century, the strategic importance of Tudela as a site on the river Ebro was enhanced by historical and political circumstances. It turned into the base of the Banu Qasi family ofMuladis, local magnates converted to Islam that managed to be independent of the emirs, establishing an on-off alliance and close dynastic bonds with the kings of Pamplona during the whole century. With the power of the Banu Qasi fading at the onset of 10th century, the town fell under the influence of the rising Caliphate of Córdoba and had to come up against a more aggressive policy on the part of the new dynasty ruling in Pamplona, the Ximenes, who had set up close ties with their neighbour Christian realms. The town was used by Muslims as a bridge-head to fight against the Christians of Pamplona. Later Tudela became an important defensive point for the Kingdom of Navarre in battles with Castile and Aragon.

When Christians under Alfonso the Battler conquered Tudela in 1119, three different communities where living there: Muslim, Mozarab and Jewish. In the aftermath of the conquest, community relations appear to have been strained and Muslims were forced to live in a suburb outside the town walls, whereas Jews continued to reside inside the walls (see Jews in Tudela). The co-existence of different cultures is reflected in Tudela’s reputation for producing important medieval writers such as Al-Tutili. The Jews were banished in 1498 (the expulsion from Navarre being slightly later than in the rest of Spain). Muslims and Moriscos were expelled in 1516 and 1610 respectively. There are still examples of Islamic-influenced architecture in the city – the style the Spanish call Mudéjar; but the principal mosque was turned over to the Church in 1121, and by the end of the 12th century construction of the cathedral had begun. At the end of the 17th century, the new public square was built, called Plaza Nueva or Plaza de los Fueros, which became the main city centre. On November 23, 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Marshal Lannes won the Battle of Tudela in the Peninsular War. The train station was built in 1861, which, together with the agricultural revolution, resulted in a new period of expansion for the city.

Main sights

  • The Cathedral (12th-13th centuries). It includes examples of Romanesque architecture, such as the Puerta del Juicio, or Door of the (Last) Judgement. There are some Gothic influences and also Baroque additions to the building.
  • Church of Magdalene (12th century), in Romanesque style
  • Church of San Nicolás (12th century)
  • Church of San Jorge (17th century), in Baroque style
  • Palacio Decanal
  • Stone bridge over the Ebro River
  • Torre Monreal

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