Roncevaux Pass – Roncesvalles, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Roncevaux Pass

Roncesvalles, Spain

The site of a legendary battle immortalized in medieval literature.  


The Song of Roland is one of the most significant romances in medieval literature, often compared to the legend of King Arthur. During the Renaissance, it was transformed by Italian poets into a two-part epic called Orlando Innamorato and Orlando Furioso, which contained elements of fantasy and even science fiction.

One of the twelve paladins that served Charlemagne, Roland fought and died in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 CE. Returning from the campaign in the Iberian peninsula, the Frankish troops were ambushed in the Pyrenees by Vasconian raiders, or the Saracens according to later sources.

The site of the storied battle, Roncevaux Pass, is located entirely within the border of Spain today. Two more battles were fought here in 824 and 1813. Later in 1967, a monument dedicated to Roland was erected on the site.

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December 8, 2020

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