You don’t need an excuse to travel to Navarre, but we want to give you a good reason to do it in a very special way. Our proposal: to escape to the settings of the literary film adaptation of Dolores Redondo’s Baztan Trilogy. These novels have been and are a success not only in Spain, but also in the many countries in which they have been published, so it is not surprising that they are reflected on the screen.
“The Invisible Guardian” was the first book in the trilogy and from the moment it was published, it made every good crime novel reader tremble with excitement. Suddenly, those dark and fascinating Nordic plots were taking place in the next town and not on the Swedish plains. The series of books was completed with “Legacy in the Bones” and “Offering to the Storm”. The protagonists of crimes, persecutions and dark family stories were there, in a leafy and quiet valley in beautiful Navarre.
It didn’t take long for the film world to realise the potential of stories with scripted rhythm and full of characters with character. So, in 2017, the first of the films was released, directed by the Pamplona-born director Fernando González Molina and produced by Nostromo Pictures, Atresmedia Cine, ZDF and ARTE. Marta Etura stepped into the shoes of Amaia Salazar, heading a cast that throughout its three instalments brought together a veritable collection of excellent actors: Elvira Mínguez (as an unforgettable Flora), Imanol Arias (as a disturbing clergyman), Leonardo Sbaraglia (as an even more disturbing judge) and a terrifying Susi Sánchez.
Undoubtedly, the great work of the Navarra Film Commission in attracting and facilitating film shoots such as this one was and continues to be fundamental in making Navarra the great film set that travellers fall in love with.
The illustrious Iruña, also known as Pamplona
The action of the Baztan trilogy takes place between the Navarrese capital, Pamplona, and, obviously, the Baztan valley that gives the saga its title. Depending on the moment of the story, the action pivots from one point to another in this reduced setting, but it allows us to get to know places of extraordinary beauty.
Before the debacle begins in Amaia Salazar’s personal life, we see her enjoying a quiet life (yes, at first, yes) in a Pamplona where she moves around emblematic places such as the Plaza del Castillo or the Café Iruña (also mentioned by the illustrious Hemingway in “Fiesta”). As a special recommendation for literature (and film) lovers, the Café Iruña has a space called “El Rincón de Hemingway” (Hemingway’s Corner), where you can emulate the Nobel Prize winner with a bite to eat and a drink or take the opportunity to read some of the books he began to write there, many of which have been adapted for the big screen: “Fiesta”, “A Farewell to Arms”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Paris was a Party” and “The Old Man and the Sea”.
Filming in Pamplona City Hall / Iñaki Zaldua
In addition to Iruña, if you are one of those sybarite travellers who never forgoes a good tribute to the palate, Dolores Redondo reveals her taste for good food in the pages of the trilogy, citing other gastronomic enclaves in the city such as the Rodero restaurant or the one at the Hotel Europa. Don’t miss this opportunity to savour the gastronomy of Navarre!
If you have a few days to explore the scenes of the saga, Pamplona is an excellent starting point. Although it is world famous for the San Fermin festival, this is perhaps not the best time of year to get to know it in depth. At any other time of the year, the capital of Navarre is a haven of peace, with its beautiful historic quarter, its green areas, its renowned university and its first-class cultural atmosphere. On the Visit Navarra website there are route options to suit all tastes: from a half-marathon to cazuelica week.
Elizondo, the great protagonist of the story
We return to Amaia, who soon has to travel to her native Elizondo, the central axis of all the action to come. This beautiful town, bathed by the river Bidasoa (which, as it passes through here, is called Baztán), shows us a good catalogue of traditional architecture of the area together with some elegant houses of indianos (very typical in the north of Spain).
A large part of the plots take place in the streets of Elizondo / Navarra Film Commission
Jaime Urrutia and Braulio Uriarte streets, the main arteries of the town, are often featured in novels, as is one of the town’s great viewpoints: the Txokoto bridge. From here you can contemplate a relaxing waterfall (Amaia does this a lot) and walk to Aunt Engrasi’s house. A pleasant surprise for film fans is that this house can be rented.
Filming of the films in Elizondo / Navarra Film Commission
Another place to visit and enjoy is the Bar Txokoto, frequented by several characters from the trilogy and which, both in fiction and in reality, offers typical local tapas. For dessert, of course, you have to try the aforementioned “txantxigorris” from the Panificadora Baztanesa, better known as “Mantecadas Salazar”, the family business and scene of some of the most terrible scenes in the plot. The temptation to try the sweets and take a selfie with the sign that was used for the film and that still hangs on the façade is irresistible.
Two other stops along the route lead to the church and the cemetery, where funerals are held and other things happen (which we can’t tell you about for spoilers). The façade of the pilgrims’ hospital is also visible along the walk.
In short. The route devised by Dolores Redondo has much more to offer. The best thing to do is to discover it in person, for which you can contact any of the local companies that organise them every weekend.
The Baztan Valley
Although Elizondo is undoubtedly one of the main protagonists of the plots, the rest of the beautiful valley that surrounds it is also part of the comings and goings of Amaia and company. No less than fifteen villages full of farmhouses, meadows, forests (with and without Basajaun) and caves, which can be visited in a couple of days or weeks.
The forests of the Baztan Valley are the main protagonists of the films / Navarra Film Commission
Aniz, Ziga, Irurita, Arizkun, Bozate, Erratzu, Zugarramurdi, Amaiur and Urdax are part of these routes that can be done by car, on your own or with local guides.
And if for the moment it is not possible to travel there, we can always let Dolores Redondo herself show us her favourite places.
A great option for after the marathon of his films, which we are sure we have left you wanting to discover or review before travelling to Navarre.
By María Parcero
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