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The small church at Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles (French: Roncevaux, Basque: Orreaga, Aragonese: Ronzesbals) is a small village and municipality of northern Spain (Navarrese Towns), in the province of Navarre. It is situated on the small river Urrobi at an altitude of 900 meters (2,950 ft.) among the Pyrenees, and within five miles of the French frontier. Population in 2007 was 24.

Roncesvalles is famous in history and legend for the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland in 778, during the battle of Roncevaux Pass, when Charlemagne's rear guard was destroyed by Basque tribes.

The small collegiate church contains several curious relics associated with Roland. The battle is said to have been fought in the picturesque valley known as Valcarlos, which is now occupied by a hamlet bearing the same name, and in the adjoining pass of Ibañeta (Roncevaux Pass). Both of these are traversed by the main road leading north from Roncesvalles to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, in the French Basque Country.

Since the Middle Ages, this collegiate church has been a favorite resting place for Catholic pilgrims along the Way of St. James, since it is the first place to have a rest after crossing the French Pyrenees. Every year thousands of pilgrims begin their way to Santiago de Compostela at Roncesvalles.

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This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Coordinates: 42°59′23″N 1°20′4″W / 42.98972°N 1.33444°W / 42.98972; -1.33444

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

RONCESVALLES (Fr. Roncevaux), a village of northern Spain, in the province of Navarre; situated on the small river Urrobi, at an altitude of 3220 ft. among the Pyrenees, and within 5 m. from the French frontier. Pop. (1900) 152. Roncesvalles is famous in history and legend for the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland in 778. The small collegiate church contains several curious relics associated with Roland, and is a favourite place of pilgrimage. The battle is said to have been fought in the picturesque valley known as Val Carlos, which is now occupied by a hamlet bearing the same name, and in the adjoining defile of Ibaneta. Both of these are traversed by the main road leading north from Roncesvalles to St Jean Pied de Port, in France.


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