Pamplona Tourist Attractions
The ancient city of Pamplona, chief town of the province of Navarra and the most important town in the Spanish Pyrenees, lies on a hill above the left bank of the Río Arga, at the western end of the Pyrenees.
HistoryThe settlement of Pompaelo, which became Pamplona, is said to have been founded by the Roman general Cn. Pompeius Magnus in the winter of 75 B.C. during his campaign against Sertorius. The Goths conquered the town in the fifth Century but were driven out in the eighth Century by the Moors, with whom the inhabitants had concluded a pact. This was the assembly point of the Arab army which was defeated at Tours and Poitiers in 732. In 778 Charlemagne slighted the town's defenses, and thereafter it sank into insignificance for several Centuries. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela on the Way of St James gave Pamplona a fresh lease of life, and three separate settlements developed - the Navarrería in which the old-established inhabitants lived, the new district of San Cernín, mainly inhabited by French merchants and craftsmen, and another new district, San Nicolás. Antagonisms between these three communities flared up in the 13th-15th centuries, when the kings of Aragon and Castile were at odds with the French kings of Navarre over the possession of Pamplona and sought allies in the different parts of the town, which fought against each other in changing coalitions. These conflicts were finally settled in 1423, but the inhabitants of Pamplona maintained their stout resistance to any aggressor, as the Castilians found out in 1512 and the French in 1808.
Fiesta de San Fermín
Pamplona is famed for the Fiesta de San Fermín, celebrated every year from July sixth to 14th, with impressive parades of Gigantes (Giants) and Cabezudos (Bigheads) and a procession in honor of San Fermín (St Firmianus) on July seventh. Throughout the week there are bullfights, and every morning the fighting bulls are driven through the streets, which have been closed off for the purpose, to the Plaza de Toros, while large numbers of daring young men (and in recent years also women) confront them and race ahead of them through the streets, cheered on by the bystanders. This "running of the bulls" (encierro) is vividly described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel "Fiesta" ("The Sun also Rises").
Fiesta de San Fermin - Running of the Bulls
The famous Running of the Bulls, chronicled in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises", is a major tourist draw. Bulls run every morning of the festival except the first day. The event takes place the second week in July.
Northeast of the Plaza del Castillo, just inside the town walls, rises the massive cathedral, mostly dating from the 15th century, with a Neo-Classical facade and towers of 1780. In the nave, in front of the choir, is the alabaster tomb of Charles III, the Noble, and his wife Leonora de Trastamara (c. 1420), by the Flemish master Jean de Lomme. The choir has magnificent stalls by Miguel de Ancheta (1530), and in the Capilla Mayor is a retablo of 1507.
Cathedral - Cloister
A richly gilded doorway in the south aisle, with a beautiful 14th century tympanum ("Death of the Virgin"), gives access to the 14th century cloister, with its tall arches one of the finest in Spain. On the east side is the Capilla Barbazana, with the tomb of its founder, Cardinal Arnaldo de Barbazán (1318-55). On the south side is the 14th century Puerta Preciosa, which leads into the Sala Preciosa, once the meeting-place of the Cortes of Navarre.
The Diocesan Museum is housed in rooms opening off the cloister. Particularly impressive are the richly decorated refectory, with a carving of the ''Maiden and the Unicorn'' on the lector's pulpit, and the huge kitchen with a chimney 27m/89ft high. The other rooms contain the rich Cathedral Treasury, which includes a 13th century Gospel book, a French reliquary of the Holy Sepulchre, the Lignum Crucis (believed to be a fragment of the True Cross), pictures and sculpture.
Eastern and Southern Distrcits
Plaza de Toros
Plaza del Conde de Rodezno
From the south side of the Plaza del Castillo the Avenida de Carlos III, lined by modern buildings, runs southeast, crosses the wide Avenida de la Baja Navarra and comes to the spacious Plaza del Conde de Rodezno, with the temple-like Monumento de los Caídos (Monument to the Fallen), commemorating the Nationalist dead of the Civil War.
Jardin del Senorio de Bertiz
Jardin del Senorio de Bertiz is an extensive park with holm oaks, Italian cypresses and Spanish chestnuts. There are many conifers interspersed with flowering shrubs. The River Bibasoa flows through the garden and the romantic bridge leads across and ornamental lake to an island with pergola.
Map of Pamplona Attractions