Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port owes his name to his situation at the foot of the port of Roncesvalles (alt. 1 057 m), on Spanish territory. The city is situated in the confluence of Nive and Laurhibar.
In 2016, the municipality was admitted joining the association the Most beautiful villages of France. The municipality is on the via Podiensis, one of the ways of the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela, which leaves Puy-en-Velay and goes on up to the collar of Roncevaux and, from there, to Santiago de Compostela.
One of the first buildings of the city was the church saint-Eulalie, raised to the XIIth century not far from the ford of Nive; we can again see his Romanic, well-preserved portal, on the facade of the retirement home Toki Éder, in the district Ugange.
On the hill dominating the city, we can see the castle of Mendiguren, which it is mentioned from 1191. At the foot of the castle, Sanche VII the Fort, king of Navarre built at the beginning of the XIIIth century a fortified city, surrounded with ramparts, still visible doors nowadays, as well as a church, included in the defensive system of the place. Kings of Navarre make it frequent stays.