Visit Pamplona, the capital of Navarre
Pamplona has always been a popular stop on the way to Santiago de Compostela, thanks to the pilgrims’ hospices that the city had.
Established in the eleventh century, this road from France contributed to exchanges with the city, to the urban development of Pamplona and to its current tourist development.
Located in a plain surrounded by mountains, Pamplona is a university and modern city that concentrates its animation in the alleys inside the ramparts of the old city around the Plaza del Castillo.
Numerous churches and historic buildings dot the squares and streets, including the Cathedral of Santa María el Real, built from the 13th century on the ruins of an ancient Romanesque cathedral in the Navarrrería district.
Iruña, the Basque name for Pamplona, which means “city of the gods”, is also known for its crazy festivities of San Firmin, the second week of July.
Street shows, concerts, tours of tapas bars accompanied by bands, Spanish fashionable fanfares are on the programme of this festive epic, the highlight of which is early in the morning with the Encierro, letting go of bulls.
At 8 am the bulls are dropped in the streets, on a very precise and secure course of 800 m long, which will fight in the evening in the arena. The goal being to run all white and red dressed to meet them…
Ernest Hemingway was an unconditional devotee of the Sanfirmines which he attended for the first time in 1923.
Pamplona’s neighborhoods and visit
The old town
Historically designed around three villages: San Nicolás, Cernin and Navarrería, each with its own church and fortress, Pamplona was entirely surrounded by walls, part of which was destroyed in the 18th century to promote its urban expansion.
In the old village of Cernin, the Gothic church of San Saturnino, in the street of the same name, was part of this fortified enclosure then known as Cerco Artojana. A little further on, on the Paseo de Pablo Sarasate, stands the fortified church of San Nicolás, to which only one of the three towers it originally possessed remains.
Sarasate Boulevard, named after a Navarrese violinist and composer from Pamplona, is the unmistakable meeting place for Pamplona.
It is in these old quarters that one discovers the buildings and monuments of the city with historical or artistic interest. As well as many seigniorial houses whose coat of arms can still be seen in the Calle de Zapatería.
The streets where every day during a week the encierro takes place, dropping bulls through the city. It starts at the Corrales de Santo Domingo and starts at the Plaza Consistorial where the Town Hall is located.
It is from this baroque building that the txupinazo is launched, announcing the opening of the San Firmin feria. Then the bulls pass Calle de la Estafeta, the last straight line before arriving at the Plaza de Toros where the daily bullfights take place.
In front of these mythical arenas, Avenue Roncesvalles, stands El Monumento al Encierrro, a bronze work made in 1994 by Basque sculptor Rafael Huerta.
Remains of the stronghold of Pamplona, sections of these walls that protected the Napoleonic troops from the English troops of Wellington are still visible on the banks of the Arga River.
A great discovery to make starting from the Media Luna Park in Plaza de Toros and then from the Puerta de Francia to the Taconera garden. With its drawbridge, the Porte de France is one of the best preserved gateways to the old city of Navarre.
Palace of the Kings of Navarre
Access: Paseo Dos de Mayo.
Built into the walls, the former Royal Palace is one of the oldest and most emblematic historic buildings in the city. Dating from the twelfth century, it has been restored and houses the Royal and General Archives of Navarre.
Open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Free admission.
Museum of Navarre
Access: Calle Santo Domingo, 47.
Located near the ramparts of the historic centre of Pamplona, the museum offers exhibits of archaeological remains and Roman artefacts. Romanesque and Muslim arts, Gothic and Renaissance works, collections of paintings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries complete the visit.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 2 pm and then from 5 pm to 7 pm From 11 am to 2 pm on Sundays and holidays. Admission: 2 €.
Santa Maria Cathedral
Access: Plaza Santa María.
With its neoclassical façade, the Cathedral of Pamplona is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Spain.
Ordered by Charles the Noble in 1397, its construction on the remains of a 12th century Romanesque building lasted one century. Its central nave houses the burials of Charles III the Noble and his wife Eleonore.
The Cathedral houses the Diocesan Museum, which houses one of the most important collections of religious art in Navarre, including reliquaries, goldsmith’s pieces and Gothic sculptures.
Open: Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 10:30 am and from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, from 10 am to 2 pm on Sundays. Diocesan Museum: Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 2 pm. Admission for adults: 5 €, children: 2 €.
Access: Avenida del Ejército.
Created by Philip II, this complex of fortifications with internal gardens was renovated in the 16th and 17th centuries. What was one of the best-designed defensive works of the period has become a pleasant place to walk around, dotted with numerous statues.
Open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm, from 8 am on Saturdays and 9 am on Sundays.
Pablo Sarasate Museum
Access: Calle Mayor, 2.
The museum is dedicated to Pablo Sarasate, violinist and composer native of Pamplona. Numerous personal objects are on display, including a portrait of the musician by Llaneces in 1894. A bronze bust of Benlluire, the violins Vuillaume and Gaul & Bernardel as well as the Bechtein piano owned by the artist complete the exhibition.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm and from 6 pm to 9 pm.
Tudela is a small charming city situated on the banks of the Ebro river opposite the Bardenas Reales. It is one of the 23 cities founded in Spain by the Arabs in the 9th century.
The old quarters of Juderia Vetula y Nueva bear witness to the presence of a Jewish community since the founding of the town, which was Christianised in the 12th century by Alfonso I of Aragon.
The fertile lands of the Ribera bordering it, the Ebro has made Tudela and its surroundings a famous market-garden area.
From the medieval bridge, 360 m long and with 17 warhead arches that were built on the remains of a Muslim structure commanding access to the city, beautiful views of Tudela.
From Pamplona by the national N-121 and N-232 or AP-15. Coming from Zaragoza: N-232, AP-68.
By bus with the company CONDA which connects Tudela and Pamplona. Route: 1 h 15.
Santa Maria Cathedral
Gothic building built on the site of an ancient mosque at the end of the twelfth century, the cathedral was classified as a National Monument in 1884. It houses a Romanesque cloister and a chapel renovated in 1948, Santa Ana, in Baroque style.
Museum of Tudela
Housed in the Palacio Decanal, a 15th century palace next to the cathedral, the Tudela Museum is entirely dedicated to sacred art. On the ground floor of the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque religious images, while in the former apartments of the Dean is located the painting room.
Islamic and Christian archaeological remains are on display in the cloister between the palace and the cathedral.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10 am to 1:30 am and then from 4 am to 7 am Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 1:30 pm. Admission: 4 €.
Bardenas Reales Natural Park
Near the city of Tudela in the extreme south-east of Navarre, the Bardenas Reales are classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The territory of the park is divided into three zones: El Plano, Bardena Blanca and Bardena Negra with three nature reserves. The Vedado de Eguaras, an oasis located to the north of the park, which reminds us that in the past, more African than Hispanic flora and fauna inhabited the area.
There are also the ruins of Peñaflor Castle, a 13th century fortress.
The Rincón del Bu, whose cliffs in the Gardena Blanca are the refuge of the grand duks and the reserve of Caidas de la Negra offering 270 m of gradients in the Gardena Nagra.
A semi-desert park of 42,500 hectares of unspoilt beauty, there are no less than 700 km of trails, paths and paths, most of them marked, including the GR 13, which can be ridden by mountain bike north of the park.
The viewpoints of Alto Aguilares in the Bardeba Blanca and Balcón de Pilatos allow you to admire these austere and bare lunar landscapes, dotted with plateaus and solitary mounds.
Among the legends that run on the trails are those of the brigand Sanchicorrota, who would shoe his horse upside down in order to confuse his pursuers…
From Pamplona using the N-121 and N-232 to Tuleda, then the NA-125 to the north of the park or the NA-126 to the south.
Bardenas Reales Information Centre: Carretera del Poligono de Tiro, km 6. South of Arguedas. Timetables: daily from 9 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm, 4 pm to 7 pm in summer.
Compañia de Guías de las Bardena. Avenida de Zaragoza, 80. Tuleda. Guided tours on foot, on horseback, in 4×4. Hiking or cycling.
Urbasa y Andía Natural Park
An impressive massif located in the west of Navarre, about thirty kilometres from Pamplona, the Sierras d’ Urbasa y Andía are the birthplace of most of the streams and rivers that irrigate Navarre.
To the north of the village of Estella-Lizarra, the spring rising from a 700 m high cliff turns into a fantastic 100-metre-high fall before flowing into cascades and natural basins with turquoises.
A 5 km long hiking trail leads up to the spring through hazelnut, oak and beech trees. A signposted path that starts from the car park at the entrance to Baquedano, located in the heart of the park.
At kilometre 20 of the road linking Etxarri/Arantaz to Estella-Lizarra, do not miss the millennial vestiges of an ancient Roman road. Nearby is also the monastery of Iranzu, a Cistercian abbey built between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries in the valley of Yerri.
Access: Two roads run through Urbasa y Andía Park, the NA-718 from Olazti to Estella-Lizarra and the NA-120 from Etxarri-Aranatz to Estella.
Office of Tourime de Estella-Lizarra
Calle San Nicolás.
Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm, until 2 pm on Sundays. The information and addresses of the park’s interpretation centres will be proposed to you.