Navata’s medieval origins (14th-15th centuries)
Navata’s urban centre sprang up around the Old Hospital, which was located next to a very busy medieval thoroughfare linking the towns of Figueres and Besalú. Also known as the hospital of the poor, it was already functioning as such as far back as 1283. The first dwellings and small industries were soon established in its vicinity. In fact, this first urban centre was known as “Villa Hospitalis”, or Hospital Town. Surviving documents show that from the 15th century onwards the town’s comú, the name given to the town council in that era, was ruled by juries.
From 1051 onwards, and prior to the founding of the current urban centre, Navata was already an important barony, its political power based around the castle of Navata and its religious power around Sant Pere Vell or Can Miró Church. Nowadays, the town shield still features the baron crown.
Navata, walled town
Navata was already considered to be a town in ancient times, meaning that while it was certainly not a city it did enjoy some privileges that set it apart from the villages. Being a town was important because it was a general recognition of its preeminent position among neighbouring villages.
This little medieval town was important as a strategic spot to the south of the Pyrenees, and was also used as a stop-off point and a place to defend against possible invasions, explaining why a wall was built to protect it, probably in the 14th or 15th century. Few traces remain of the old fortification given that much of the stone was used to construct new buildings and the current church after the previous one was knocked down. There is also a part of the wall inside some modern houses that were built on top of it.
The town wall had a trapezium-shaped floor and four gateways. The wall’s northern access point, known as Valls Gateway, was here on this spot. The `valley´ [vall] or moat was the deep excavation made around the fortification to prevent the enemy from reaching as far as the town wall from outside