Pamplona is a pleasant city with a lot of green areas. There are around 200.000 inhabitants and it is crossed by three rivers: Arga, Alorz and Sader. It is situated in the Cuenca of Pamplona (valley) and it is completely surrounded by mountains. Its geographic location conditioned directly its Mediterranean and Atlantic climate: not too cold not to hot. Pamplona is well situated among the cities of the North: France is at less than 1h, San Sebastian is at 87kms, Logrono at 92 km, Vitoria at 94 km.
The area served as a camp for the Roman general Pompey. He is considered to be the founder of Pompaelo. From 409, however, Pamplona was controlled by the Visigoths; it was conquered by the Franks. From the eighth century, it was run by the Moors. After his expedition to Zaragoza in 778, Charlemagne tore down the defensive walls surrounding Pamplona.
By the 11th century, Pamplona benefited from pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, and gave rise to new city areas beside the original Navarreria site: the “Burgo de San Cernin” and the village of “San Nicolas”.
These three independent towns, being placed so close together, were almost always engaged in quarrels among themselves, until the King of Navarre Charles III the Noble united all of them into the single city of today by the “Privilegio de la Union” signed in 1423. In 1512 southern Navarra was invaded and assimilated by the Kingdom of Castile and became an autonomous kingdom, with its own institutions and laws, but ruled by the King of Castile first and later by the King of Spain
The city did not escape the regional wars of the 19th century. During Napoleonic Wars French troops occupied the city in 1808 and remained in it until 1813. During the Carlist Wars (1833, 1872) Pamplona supported the Isabelian monarchy, as opposed to rural Navarra which fought in favor of the pretender to the throne, Don Carlos.
For some Basque nationalists, Pamplona is the historical capital of Eukal Herria (country of Euskera or in a word Basque Country).
Monuments of Pamplona
The city walls: It was built in 1512 from the annexation of the city to the Castile and Aragon kingdom in order to protect them. In 1937, they are declared National Monument. Today, you can have a stroll inside the walls in the gardens and you will discover: the Ciudadela (city), The Gate of France, the Gate of San Nicolas, Baluart de Redin, the fortifies castle of San Bartolome, the cockfights, the Gardens of Taconeras, the gardens of Antoniutti, the New Gate.
- Plaza del Castillo: It is the nerve center of the city. Surrounded by building of the XVII and XVIII century, it is situated right between the Old district and the Modern one.
- Plaza de Rodeznos: It was built through the XX century in a baroque style.
- Plaza de los Fueros de Navarra: Elliptic plaza composed of green areas and paintings. It was built by Rafael Moneo and Estanislao de la Quadra Salcedo in 1970.
- Magdalena Bridge: one of the monuments of the Santiago Path.
- Santa Engracia Bridge: Gothic. It connects the Rochapea district with Curtidores.
- Miluce Bridge: It was built again in the XIX century.
- Basíllic Santa María la Real Church: Built in the 13th century upon the remains of an ancient Roman cathedral, it was finished in 1525. It consists of several different styles inside: It has a Gothic vestibule and the main altar where the kings of Navarra were crowned has a statue of the Virgen del Sagrario. It has a European Gothic cloister dating back to 1277 and 1472; the altarpiece in the 16th century Santa Cristina chapel, the facade is Neoclassic dating back to 1800; one of its bells “La María” from 1584 weighs 12,000 Kg and is the second biggest in the whole of Spain.
- San Nicolas Church: This is a fortified church dating back to 1231. It is a Norman church with some Gothic features. It used to serve as a defence for the inhabitants of the city. Located in the old part of the city.
- San Cernin o San Saturnino Church: Built in the 13th century by the kings of Navarra. This was also a fortified church. It has an interesting Baroque chapel dedicated to the Virgen del Camino; the clock tower with a weathercock on top is now a symbol of the city. There is a plaque on the floor opposite the church to commemorate the baptisms carried out by San Saturnino.
- San Lorenzo Church: Built in 1901, by Florencio Ansoleaga, upon the remains of a Baroque church. Neoclassic in style, inside you can visit the San Fermín chapel, which is very important during the fiestas in Pamplona which carry the same name.
Museo de Navarra: (Cuesta de Sto. Domingo, s/n). Located within the former hospital – Hospital de Nuestra Señora De la Misericordia – it has 7,700 m2 of exhibitions and conference rooms. Some of its furniture from Navarra dates back to 1910. It also has an art gallery consisting of paintings, sculptures etc…which are chronologically presented over 4 floors dating from the Palaeolithic period to the 20th century.
Capilla Museo: A religious art museum (Renaissance and Baroque) It has Baroque entrance; the building is by Remiro de Goñi.
Municipal Archive and the former San Juan Seminary: (c/ Mercado, 11). This Baroque building dates back to 1734. Since 1984 is has housed the town hall archives. It has an interesting Neogothic chapel which since 1991 has housed a museum dedicated to Pablo Sarasate.
Museo Pablo Sarasate: See above – it tells the story of Pamplona’s musical history since 1983.
Museo Diocesano: 14th century, located in one of the cathedral’s outbuildings. It holds sacred objects such as sculptures, pictures and gold and silver objects from Navarra.
Festival of San Fermin:
The festival of San Fermin is held annually in honour of the Saint Patron Fermin. It begins with the chupinazo (shot) from the balcony of the town hall 6th July and it ends at midnight 14th with the song “Pobre de mi”.
One of the most famous events is called encierro: it consists in let the bulls in the street for a 800-meter race until the cockfight. They take place every morning at 8.
While its most famous event is the encierro, the week involves many other traditional and folkloric events. The music is really important during all the festivities: the dianas (old military song), la Pamplonesa, the pasodoble of the bullfighting, the Banda Municipal band, the concert in the Gayarre theatre…