Santa Maria de Eunate is on NA-601 set in a flat landscape of fields and trees. It is a popular stop for coach tours who fortunately don’t stop very long and also walkers along the pilgrim route to Santiago del Compostella, who do. Many sit on the arcading massaging sore feet.
Built in 1170, it is thought to be a Templar church. It is set in a round enclosure and is unusual as it is surrounded by an arcade. This has double round pillars at the front with carved capitals supporting round arches. Further round, there are square pillars with no carved capitals. The floor is a decorative herringbone pattern of long thin pieces of stone.
The church is octagonal with a central small bell cote and a small five sided apse at the east end. This is lower than the nave and has grotesque heads carved on the corbels. There is an arcade round the outside with blank arches and Romanesque windows with pillars, carved capitals and round arches.
The north door has two round pillars with carved capitals with figures of an animal head with very curved and ribbed horns. Above is a frieze with flowers and foliage. The arches are decorate with carved figures and a geometric design with circles.
Entry is through the west door which has a simple carved arch above it and a small Romanesque window above with pillars and arches.
The inside is peaceful with music playing. It is a very elegant building with round wall pillars continuing to form a vaulted ceiling with carved bosses. There are alternating octagonal and hexagonal windows between the ribs containing opaque glass. Nave and chancel windows are Romanesque with pillars, carve capitals and round arches.
The capitals on the south side of the round chancel arch are carved with grotesque heads with stems of vines coming out of their mouths. Those on the north side have water flowers. The small stone altar has a painted and gilded seated statue of the Virgin and child behind.
The days of proper candles have gone… there is a table of electronic candles by the door with a charge of €20 cents for a candle.
This is an interesting church with its outside arcade. It is worth visiting when passing.