Stage 9 in the Brierley Guide to the Camino de Santiago has you pass the lovely tourist town of Najera. Before you do so, though, take a side trip back in history to the monasteries of Suso and Yuso. They can be accessed by public bus for a few Euros, or more expensively (50 Euro) via cab from Azorfa.
Sometime back in the mid-6th century, when the Visigoths ruled Spain, San Millán came to live on the side of a hill here (looking out),
It was here that he dwelled in a humble cave with his followers:
During the saint’s lifetime, a small monastery was built in front of the cave. And then, in the 7th century, a porch was built to serve the pilgrims who visited. In 929, the church was rebuilt. This model shows the appearance of the church. Note that it has been built in front of the original hillside cave:
Inside, some of the old church remains, built in the Mozarabic style (refers to the Christian inhabitants of Spain during the Moslem occupation). Here there are ancient arches
A column with painted tiles that protects a holy relic (ancient wood associated with the saint).
And old, old graves
But also artwork, like paintings and carvings
And intricate flooring
And grafitti from pilgrims. It seems that the impulse to add your mark is universal.
Later, another monastery community was built nearby, which I will feature in the next post.