Navarra is a region with a very marked history and it occupies a privileged geographic position, south from the Pyrenees mountain range, on its more western side. Navarre has conserved its own personality and governmental institutions from the XIth century and the Way of Santiago crosses its lands from the French border.
Navarra is a region with a very marked history and it occupies a privileged geographic position, south from the Pyrenees mountain range, on its more western side. Navarre has conserved its own personality and governmental institutions from the XIth century and the Way of Santiago crosses its lands from the French border. It was an important Iberian medieval kingdom that arose from the fight against the Muslims, and in the Modern Age it was incorporated into the crown of Castile, although it conserved its own laws.
This autonomous community has a great variety of ecosystems, from the oak and beech forests, like the one in Irati, to Bardenas Reales, with its high bare peaks. Navarre can be divided in several zones: The mountainous north, with the valley of Baztan as the most characteristic Pyrenean zone and the mountain ranges of Aralar and Urbasa in the west, the valleys furrowed by narrow passes, like those of Arbayún, in the middle zone, and the Shore of the Ebro, in the South, with the very plain and fertile Estella land. Navarre has, on the other hand, more than fifty natural territories, among which the Integral Reserve of Lizardoia and the Natural Park of Señorio de Bertiz stand out.
The history of Navarre has been marked by its border situation with France and its condition of separation from the great Spanish medieval kingdoms. Because of this rich history Navarre conserves a monumental legacy in its diverse towns and cities; evocative places like Roncesvalles, the walled Artajona, Estella, or Olite (a medieval village with a great castle). Historical places, like the Olite palace, the castle of Javier, the monastery of Leyre, Roncesvalles, the historical part of Estella, and the Cathedral and the Old Quarter of Pamplona, among others, offer the possibility of making guided visits.
Another fact of historical importance was the Way of Santiago. The great majority of pilgrims choose the “French route”, the one that goes to Santiago from the French border and that was born in the Navarrese locality of Roncesvalles. It is the most used route, the best signalized one and the one with the greatest number of refuges for the travelling pilgrim.
Navarre is a land that offers many activities to its visitor. Trekking can be widely practiced in this community because the old routes of seasonal cattle migration and the obsolete railway routes are now being used for this purpose. Many paths are made suitable for this all over the Community, like the ‘Cañadas Reales’ or other green routes. For the persons who wishes to ascend high peaks, guided excursions to the most outstanding mountains in Pyrenees, the ‘Mesa de los Tres Reyes’, are offered.
Activities like cliff climbing, mountain biking, speleology, horse riding, golfing, fishing, hunting or going across Bardenas in a pick up truck are also options to consider during leisure time. On the Navarrese Shore we also can relax at the thermal station of Fitero, to have a rest after long walks or sporting.
Pamplona is the autonomic capital and was founded by Roman general Pompeyo. The city is well-known world-wide cause its San Fermin ‘fiestas’ and its running of the bulls, immortalized by Hemingway´s writings. ‘Sanfermines’ lasts one long week, starting with the ‘chupinazo’ from the consistorial balcony on July 6th, and ending with the singing of “Pobre de mi” during the always nostalgic midnight of July 14th.
During these days the city is transformed into an explosion of wild fun with the arrival of thousands of foreigners who multiply the number of Pamplona citizens. The typical white suits with red shawls give a pretty colorful tone to the ‘fiesta’ that is accompanied by music in the streets. The running of the bulls is, without a doubt, the fair´s main event.
ther regional fairs of great interest are the Medieval Celebrations of Olite around the town castle and streets, which is repeated every August. In a medieval atmosphere, craftsmen markets, performances of jesters and jugglers, medieval parades, horsemen tournaments, and falconing and arching exhibitions can be seen.
Navarrese carnivals, with their typical ‘Zanpantzarrak’, also have a secular tradition and have great ethnographic richness, especially those celebrated in the Navarrese north. Those from Goizueta, Lantz, Lesaka, Alsasua, Unanua and Zubieta stand out. On the other hand, every Sunday of March ‘Javieradas’ is celebrated, an event of more recent origin, in which thousands of Navarrese undertake a pilgrimage to the castle of Javier, to venerate the patron saint of Navarre, San Francisco Javier.
Navarrese gastronomy is very varied and has characteristic dishes like Chilindrones, vegetable stews, Tudelan artichokes, salads, legumes and hunting stews. Asparagus is one of the emblematic products from the Ebro River banks. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, in this region asparaguses of extraordinary quality can be grown, which have been honoured with a Denomination of Origin because of their excellence.
‘Pacharan’ is a drink made through a traditional system of maceration of ‘pacharanes’, berries which transmit their characteristic red colour to the drink, in ethyl alcohol. Pacharan fame has gone beyond its borders and nowadays it is a drink exported to a lot of places in the world.