Tudela

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According to legend, the town of Tudela was founded after the Great Flood by Tubal, grandson of Noah, as Tubela (along with its sister town of Tuballa, now called Tafalla).

Located on a naturally defensible promontory overlooking the Ebro River, the town rose to prominence under the Banu Qasi (“heirs of Cassius”) in the 9th century after they built an alcazaba (mountaintop citadel) and formidable set of walls. The citadel itself is enclosed by walls and a dry moat, while a second set of walls descend to encircle the town, a wet moat providing further defense. The main access to the town is over a bridge spanning the mighty Ebro and through the Ferranna Gate. Heading the other direction across the rickety bridge sets the traveler on the road to Zaragoza.

In 1114, the town was wrested from the Moors by Alfonso the Battler, king of Navarre and Aragon. In 1121, the king gave the city’s mosque and the tithes of several towns to the prior and ecclesiastical chapter of Tudela, built the Church of Santa Maria and established a community of Canons Regular of St. Augustine. In this way, the church’s abbot and prior gained the ecclesiastical authority of Tudela. Since that time, the city has played relatively little role in the events of the Reconquista proper.

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Despite being small and rather dirty, the town remains charming and pleasant. Many of the Moorish elements that existed in the city before its capture by Christian forces have been preserved. The city’s central area is known as the Plaza de los Fueros and is surrounded by many small and twisting streets. Many of the buildings destroyed during the reconquest of Tudela were never rebuilt, creating a warren of tumble-down ruins on the edge of town avoided by most mortals.

Since the reconquest, the alcazaba of Tudela has stood as the traditional family seat of the ruling dynasty of Navarre, House Jiménez. Sancho VII of Navarre splits his time between here and his palace in Pamplona. For the last several years, the alcazaba has seen extensive renovations and upgrades to its fortifications under the careful direction of King Sancho.

The city’s main church is the Colegiata de Santa Ana, built in the twelfth century. The building is well known for its rose window, which stands above an intricately carved alabaster doorway on the western side. This doorway displays a frightful vision of the Last Judgment that both inspires and terrifies. Inside the church is a retable and beautiful old tombs. There is also a cloister whose own wall carvings possess a primitive charm.

Tudela is a predominantly Christian city, but is also noteworthy for its sizable Jewish community, many of whom—like their brethren in Pamplona—are well-traveled merchants. One of their number, a certain Benjamin, traveled throughout Italy, Greece, Persia, Palestine and the borders of China during the period between 1159 and 1173. Benjamin collected the notes of his travels in a book, called Massa’ot, and published it for the benefit of Christian and Jew alike. The book is a valuable compendium of information on the peoples and cultures of faraway lands, making it much sought after by scholars and travelers alike. A copy of the Massa’ot may be found in the extensive library maintained by Sancho in the Tudela citadel.

Tudela by Night

The prince of Tudela is Fulgencio d’Idalia, childe of the Lasombra archbishop Ambrosio Luis Monçada. A recent arrival, Fulgencio is determined to stamp out a local heretical sect that haunts the ruined quarter of town, the Apostles of the Third Caine, led by the charismatic Aimersent. For her part, Aimersent appears unconcerned, believing Fulgencio’s efforts will be no more successful than his predecessor’s.

Tudela

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