Tudela is the second city of Navarre in terms of population (35,369 inhabitants) and economic development. Located in the south of the Autonomous Region, it enjoys a strategic geographic position on the banks of the Ebro River, close to the Lodosa Canal and the source of the Tauste and Imperial and near the crossroads of the Ebro motorway with that of Navarre.
It is the capital of a prosperous farming and industrial region (La Ribera) and is equidistant between Pamplona, Logroño, Soria and Zaragoza (around 90 kilometres).
From the town planning point of view, it is considered to be one of the most important cities of Islamic origin in Spain and Europe. It was founded by Arabs in the year 802 (9th century) and remained under Islamic domination until 1119, the year when it became part of the Navarro-Aragonese crown. Three cultures lived together in harmony during the Middle Ages for over 400 years: Muslims, Jews and Christians. The Arab and Jewish quarters would become among the most renowned in Navarre.
For this reason, Tudela boasts huge wealth in terms of its historic, artistic and cultural legacy. Special mention should be made of the Cathedral (12th century), with the Baroque chapel of Santa Ana in its interior; the Romanesque church of La Magdalena, with one of the few Romanesque towers remaining in Navarre, the Dean’s Palace (16th century) with its Plateresque doorway, the Palace of the Marquis of San Adrián (16th century), a Renaissance building reminiscent of Italian palaces, the Admiral’s House (16th century), which possesses a fine Plateresque balcony; the Renaissance Casa Ibáñez Luna (16th century), and the Palace of the Marquis of Huarte, a Baroque construction dating from the 18th century. Tudela is included in the Network of Jewish Quarters in Spain-Sephardic Routes, which means its most emblematic sights are signposted and cultural events are organized throughout the year that recall its Jewish past.
Apart from its historic legacy, Tudela is located amidst a landscape dominated by the Bardenas Reales Nature Park, a unique semi-desert territory of 42,500 hectares full of striking contrasts and home to important species of protected flora and fauna. It has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The erosion has shaped a landscape comprising high plains, hillocks and ravines containing three nature reserves: el Rincón del Bu, las Caídas de la Negra and, to the north of the territory, the Vedado de Eguaras Nature Reserve. In addition, the most important (in surface area and variety) thickets and alluvial ecosystems in the entire Ebro Valley survive in Tudela, and the Tarazonica Vía Verde cycle track starts in Tudela, following the former railway line which linked the city with Tarazona and closed down in 1972.
To speak of Tudela is to speak of gastronomy. The fact that the Ebro passes through the region has made La Ribera and its capital an extraordinarily fertile area where vegetable gardens are plentiful. Thus, it boasts vegetables of proven quality such as artichokes, thistle, lettuce hearts, asparagus and borage. All of these are available in restaurants, where special mention should be made of the most typical dish – vegetable stew (menestra) made from several of these vegetables.
The importance of this product is such that the Vegetable Exaltation Congress takes place every spring, organized by the Order of the Volatín with the support of several institutions. Gastronomic tours, cookery competitions and tasting are some of the activities planned for this event.
Easter plays host to two traditional ceremonies that belong to Tudela culture from the 14th century and have been declared fiestas of National Tourist interest: The Volatín and the Descent of the Angel. The former takes place on Easter Saturday – the dance of a articulated wooden doll - the Volatín - which recreates the death of Judas in the Casa del Reloj in Plaza de los Fueros, Every resurrection Sunday, a child dressed as an angel is led around Plaza de los Fueros suspended from a rope, to the place where the Virgin Mary is carried in a procession and from whom it removes the black veil covering her as a sign of joy for the resurrection of Christ. Tudela holds it annual local fiestas in July in honour of St. James and St. Anne with an extensive programme of festivities, among which special mention should be made of the dance of the Revoltosa around the bandstand in Plaza de los Fueros.