Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Gateway to Roncesvalles, A Route on Way of Saint James. Modern Scallop Shell Marker

Saint Jean Pied de Port. Basque country.  Distinctive deep-red shutters, peaked roofs, white stucco. 

This strategic medieval area has served interests of the military, traders, pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain (Way of Saint James), invaders and defenders -- Christians and Saracens and others in that centuries-earlier conflict. A cluster settlement or village known as Ugange appears in the 11th Century, more identifiable in the 12th Century. Itdeclined when a new lower town with walls at the river developed in the 13th-14th Centuries, St. Jean Pied de Port. Pied de Port. At the foot of the port?

Most houses angle toward the sun, south; with no windows on the north side, to keep heat in and protect against Atlantic or other winds.  See  The bottom level may still have cart-accommodating doors, as animals and farm equipment were housed there, as well as some of the bedrooms and the kitchen.  Upper stories came later, and offer more bedrooms.  Several generations traditionally lived together.

Basques enjoy a unique history, and language, and DNA --see site.  They have little interest in being absorbed by the larger government around, like Spain or France.   Their flag is red and white with green; this symbolizes their rejection of the French flag colors, red white and blue.

Basque houses like this are usually no older than the 16th century. See the Pyrenees Atlantiques site for regional differences.

St . Jean Pied de Port offers both residences and businesses on the river.

There at center, slightly left, on the road, is a pilgrim, large brimmed hat, staff.  Click to enlarge to X-Large.  This lady has 754 km or some 468 miles to go to Santiago de Compostela.

Squint to see her, little figure with floppy hat, staff, following the scallop shell signs found in many forms over Europe in adjoining countries, and further.

It was located on the sidewalk itself.  The yellow on blue, modern shape scallop shell, represent the European Union.  See  The shell itself represents the scallops covering the body of St. James, after his beheading in 44AD in Jerusalem, and his disciples sending the body by ship to the Iberian peninsula, shipwreck, body recovered so covered, and other explanations, see site.

Roncesvalles or Roncevaux:  the area of battle in 778 AD between the Saracens and the Christian Roland and his army, the rear guard for Charlemagne's forces.


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