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Pamplona, Navarre, Spain

Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain and France, and of the former kingdom of Navarre. The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions.

Pamplona is located in the middle of Navarre in a rounded valley, known as the Basin of Pamplona, that links the mountainous North with the Ebro valley. It is 92 kilometres from the city of San Sebastián, 117 kilometres from Bilbao, 735 kilometres from Paris and 407 kilometres from Madrid. The climate and landscape of the basin is a transition between those two main Navarrese geographical regions. Its central position at crossroads has served as a commercial link between those very different natural parts of Navarre. The historical centre of Pamplona is on the right bank of the Arga, a tributary of the Ebro. The city has developed on both sides of the river. Its climate is Oceanic with influences of Continental Mediterranean.

Religious architecture

The most important religious building is the fourteenth century Gothic Cathedral, with an outstanding cloister and a Neoclassical façade. There are another two main Gothic churches in the old city: Saint Sernin and Saint Nicholas, both built during the thirteenth century. Two other Gothic churches were built during the sixteenth century: Saint Dominic and Saint Augustine. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century were built the Baroque chapels of Saint Fermin, in the church of Saint Lawrence, and of the Virgin of the Road (Virgen del Camino), in the church of Saint Sernin, the convents of the Augustinian Recollect nuns and the Carmelite friars, and the Saint Ignatius of Loyola basilica in the place where he was injured in the battle and during the subsequent convalescence he decided to be a priest. The most remarkable twentieth century religious buildings are probably the new diocesan seminary (1931) and the classical-revival style memorial church (1942) to the Navarrese dead in the Nationalist side of the Civil War and that is used today as temporary exhibitions room.

Military and civil architecture

From the prominent military past of Pamplona remain three of the four sides of the city walls and, with little modifications, the citadel or star fort. All the mediaeval structures were replaced and improved during 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in order to resist artillery sieges. Completely obsolete for modern warfare, they are used today as parks. The oldest civil building today existing is a fourteenth century house that was used as Cámara de Comptos (the court of auditors of the early modern autonomous kingdom of Navarre) from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. There are also several medieval bridges on the Arga: Santa Engracia, Miluce, Magdalena, and San Pedro.

The medieval palace of Saint Peter, which was alternatively used by Navarrese kings and Pamplonese bishops, was used during the early modern age as the Viceroy’s palace and later was the seat of the military governor of Navarre; from the time of the Civil War it was in ruins but was recently rebuilt to be used as the General Archive of Navarre. The most outstanding Baroque civil architecture is from the eighteenth century: town hall, episcopal palace, Saint John the Baptist seminary, and the Rozalejo’s, Ezpeleta’s (today music school), Navarro-Tafalla’s (today, the local office of PNV), and Guenduláin’s (today, a hotel) mansions. The provincial government built its own Neoclassical palace, the so-called Palace of Navarre, during the nineteenth century. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century Pamplonese architecture shows the tendencies that are fully developed in other more important Spanish cities: La Agrícola building (1912), several apartment buildings with some timid modernist ornamentation, etc. The most notable architect in twentieth century Pamplona was Víctor Eusa (1894–1979), whose designs were influenced by the European expressionism and other avant-garde movements.

Parks

Pamplona has many parks and green areas. The oldest is the Taconera park, whose early designs are from the seventeenth century. Taconera is today a romantic park, with wide pedestrian paths, parterres, and sculptures. The Media Luna park was built as part of the II Ensanche and is intended to allow relaxing strolling and sightseeing over the northern part of the town. After its demilitarization, the citadel (Ciudadela) and its surrounding area (Vuelta del Castillo) shifted into a park area with large lawns and modern sculptures. The most remarkable parks of the new neighborhoods include the Yamaguchi park, between Iturrama and Ermitagaña, which includes a little Japanese garden; the campus of the University of Navarre; the Parque del Mundo in Chantrea; and the Arga park.

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