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Pamplona

Pilgrim's Way to Santiago
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Founded by the Romans and located on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago, Pamplona is now a modern and welcoming city with a wide range of activities that include walking around century-old walls and cobbled streets; resting in parks and terraces; trying its delicious tapas (or pinchos as they're known locally); visiting historical monuments; attending great shows or watching traditional sports such as Basque pelota.

Furthermore, its central location makes it the perfect place from which to discover the region's diversity at your leisure. We present you with the main locations for leisure and culture in the capital of Navarre, as well as the best of its history.


A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
. The mark of Rome: 75 B.C. The Roman general Pompey established his camp on high ground where the cathedral stands today and where an old Basque people already existed. He founded the city and gave it the name of Pompaelo. Pamplona later fell into the hands of the Visigoths and the Muslims.

. Capital of a Kingdom and the consolidation of a single city: in the Middle Ages, the city first became the capital of the Kingdom of Pamplona and later of the Kingdom of Navarre. The desire to repopulate the city by successive kings led to the area being segregated into three walled boroughs: Navarrería, San Cernín and San Nicolás. The constant battles between Basques and Franks from different hamlets led King Carlos III the Noble to sign the 'Privilege of Union' in 1423, through which Pamplona became a single city. The Jurería (a new town hall) was built, a new coat of arms was created for the city and the construction of future internal fortifications was prohibited.

. Pamplona, a true bastion: after Navarre became part of Castile in 1512-1515 Pamplona became an outpost for the Spanish crown against France. Its image as a fortress-city is reinforced by the construction of the Citadel and the new city walls (16th-18th centuries).

. The new Pamplona: in the 18th century the city began to modernise. Lighting, drains, a new town hall, Neoclassical fountains, etc. The process was interrupted, however, by the invasion of Napoleon's troops. In 1915, part of the walls was knocked down to allow the city to expand, and this period was accompanied by industrial, social and cultural development that continued right up to the Pamplona of today. It is a green city with high standards of healthcare and education, but above all, it is a welcoming place full of hospitable people.

ART: UNIQUE MONUMENTS, MUSEUMS, SQUARES AND HIDDEN CORNERS
. Cathedral of Santa Maria (14th and 15th centuries): the sobriety of its Neoclassical façade is in contrast with the Gothic aesthetic inside. The jewel in the building's crown is the cloister, considered to be one of the most exquisite examples of the Gothic style and an essential stop-off during your visit. There are two beautiful doors here as well as a chapel with a stellar vault. [+ info]
. The three boroughs and their fortified churches: la Navarrería, San Cernin and San Nicolás, each one with its own layout and fortress-church (the cathedral in la Navarrería, the church of San Saturnino and the church of San Nicolás) were the origin of what is the old part of the Mediaeval city today, surrounded by walls and narrow streets, small squares and palaces, and protected by towers and bell towers.

. Pamplona City Hall: situated in the heart of the city's old part, its location is no coincidence. King Carlos III 'the Noble' declared the 'Privilege of Union' in 1423 and ordered the construction of this building in the place where the three mediaeval boroughs came together, as a symbol of the consolidation of a single city. Its colourful façade, combining baroque and neoclassical styles, is especially noteworthy. The central balcony on the second floor is the scene of the launching of the ceremonial rocket ("chupinazo") that signals the beginning of the San Fermín festival every July 6th.[+ info]

. Museum of Navarre, Kingdom: an old hospital converted into a museum, it is an essential stop-off for anyone who wishes to learn more about the art and history of Navarre from prehistoric times to today. Inside the museum you will be able to admire items as important as the Mozarabic chest from the Monastery of Leire or Goya's portrait of the Marquis of San Adrián. [+ info]

. Mediaeval walls: 3 miles of walls, bastions, gates, demilunes, ravelins and forts provide this defensive feature with the sobriety and sophistication that were enough to make it a National Monument. Indeed, it is considered one of the most interesting and best-conserved defensive complexes in Spain. Get to know its history in the new Centre of the Fortifications of Pamplona.

. Palaces of interest: the Royal Archive, the Palacio del Condestable and the Diputación Foral (Government building): The Royal and General Archive of Navarre, the old Kings' Palace, is an emblematic 13th-century building which underwent renovation work by the renowned architect Rafael Moneo and which maintains its vaulted Gothic room and interior arched patio intact. . The Palacio del Condestable is the only example of 16th-century civil architecture in Pamplona. The palace has been restored so that its original appearance and elements such as its fanciful corner have been recovered, and nowadays it is home to the legacy and music of the brilliant violinist Pablo Sarasate. The Palace of Navarre, popularly known as "la Diputación" is the seat of the regional government. It is an emphatic neoclassical building that contains beautiful rooms such as the Throne Room. The building's clock chimes Navarre's anthem every day at 12pm. Its garden is home to the city's tallest tree, a 150-year-old 37-metre-high sequoia.

. Castle Square: the square at the heart of the city. An imperfect four-sided area from which the narrow streets of the old town start, the square is surrounded by a large number of colourful 18th-century houses with their eye-catching rows of balconies, turrets, attics and large windows. Ernest Hemingway's mark is also present in many of the square's locations, such as the mythical Café Iruña, the Gran Hotel La Perla or the Txoko bar.

. The Planetarium: located in Yamaguchi park, its projection dome, 20 metres in diameter, is one of the biggest in the world. The Tornamira room brings together sophisticated projecting systems of stars, planets, images of all kinds, video and special effects. It has a permanent programme of shows that feature themes relating astronomy to our cultural surroundings and is also an auditorium and exhibition room.

. Rincón del Caballo Blanco and Plazuela de San José: at a corner of the city walls, this is a place full of charm and mediaeval atmosphere. The terrace of the bar located here is popular when the warm weather arrives. As well as enjoying the views over north and east Pamplona, you can also be entertained by open-air concerts. Walk from here underneath a "hanging house" to reach the coquettish San José square (which gets its name from the side façade of the Cathedral that opens out onto this small square), where you will be able to see the city's oldest house, search for the way out through a street called Salsipuedes (translated as "get out if you can") or admire Pamplona's only fountain that doubles up as a street light.

NATURE: PARKS WITH CHARM
. The Ciudadela (citadel), the city's fortress and largest open space: considered to be the best example of military architecture from the Spanish Renaissance, on the inside it contains other fortresses and smaller buildings - el Polvorín, el Horno, la Sala de Armas - which are used for cultural and leisure activities and exhibitions. Both inside and around the enclosure, meadows and trees fill moats and glacis, areas that the people of Pamplona use for walking, playing football or jogging.[+ info]

. A mini-zoo in the moat at La Taconera: this pretty park created in the style of Versailles holds quite a few surprises: gates in the style of triumphal arches, illustrious monuments like the one to the tenor Julián Gayarre and old sculptures such as the popular 'Mariblanca', pointed arches, fountains and a smart coffee house. But the park's most curious element is, without a doubt, the small zoo located in the moat, in which deer, ducks, pheasants, goats, swans and peacocks live together. [+ info]

. La Media Luna: one of the most romantic and oldest parks in the city, it is shaped like a waning crescent moon and bears the mark of the architect Victor Eúsa. Its vantage points over the Arga river offer great views of a skyline that is an eternal feature in the work of Navarre's artists, taking in the bell towers of the Cathedral and mediaeval churches, as well as the market gardens of La Magdalena below. It is also home to a fishpond, a giant sequoia, and a monument to the Roncalese tenor Julián Gayarre. [+ info]

. Yamaguchi: the result of the twinning between Pamplona and this Japanese city, the park was built with the typical elements of a Japanese garden. Plants and tree species, some indigenous, live alongside decorative elements such as the suhama (beach), azumaya (little house on the lake), yatsubashi and ishibasi (footbridges), taki (waterfall) or the geyser on the lake - a jet of water that reaches a height of twenty metres. [+ info]

. Arga River Park: the recovery of this natural habitat means that we can now enjoy over 800,000 square metres of trees, parks, market gardens, canoe jetties, mediaeval bridges or old flour mills located along the meanders of this river that separate the centre of Pamplona from its northern suburbs.

. University campuses: both located in the south of the city, their aesthetic is very different. The Universidad de Navarra, founded in 1952, is a classic 400,000m2 campus reminiscent of the Anglo-Saxon style. Meanwhile, the Universidad Pública de Navarra, built in 1987 by the architect Sáenz de Oiza, has an avant-garde design in which modern sculptures are scattered around its gardens, filled with more than 100 tree species representing the 5 continents.


  • ROUTES AROUND THE CITY
    . Get to know the essence of Pamplona: with a map in hand, join up the places of interest mentioned above and you will discover the city's best spots. If you would like to go a bit further and would rather be taken around, why not ask for an expert guide. There is a wide range of guided tours organised by different companies: Dinamic; Erreka; Global (Hemingway tours); Guía de Patrimonio; Novotur.

    . A walk around the city walls: Five kilometres along which you will discover some of the most outstanding monuments and green spaces of the city. The parks of La Taconera and La Media Luna, the old Kings' Palace or the city's Fortifications centre. [+ info].

    . The route of the bull run: the bull run is the central event in the fiestas of San Fermín. It is an 825-metre 'race' that runs along Cuesta de Santo Domingo, City Hall square, Calle Mercaderes, Calle Estafeta, the Telefónica corner and finally into the bullring. Could you imagine yourself running ahead of the bulls in the middle of a frenetic race? [+ info]

    . The Arga River Park: a 22-kilometre (14 miles) route for walking or cycling along the river that flows around Pamplona. It is a pleasant excursion that takes you past historical bridges, dams, mills, footbridges, parks, jetties, picnic areas, market gardens and even an Environmental Education museum or an old fulling mill. To reach the old part of the city quickly, take the new lift (elevator) that goes up to the city walls from the bridge of Curtidores. [+ info]

    . The Pilgrims' Way: Would you like to be a pilgrim for a day? If so, you can head down Labrit from the Bullring to the mediaeval bridge of La Magdalena, and from there, follow the yellow arrows that guide pilgrims along the route. Walk along a part of the city walls, go up the hill, through the Portal de Francia and cross the old town along Calle Mayor. Cross La Taconera park and skirt the Citadel, leaving the city through the neighbourhood of Iturrama. Only another 20 kilometres to go until the end of the stage at Puente la Reina![+ info]

    LEISURE ACTIVITIES
    . Out for tapas and wine: even the most demanding palates will feel rewarded with the culinary miniatures that Pamplona's bars serve every day, made with typical products from Navarre. The old town is the busiest area (especially around Calle Estafeta and Calle San Nicolás), although you will also find bars in the "Ensanches" (extensions of the city) and Pamplona's other neighbourhoods. In order to make the visitor's task a little easier, the Association of Bars and Restaurants website includes useful information by area, with links to information about each bar and their locations. Pamplona tapas bar search engine .

    . Attend a cultural event at the Gayarre Theatre, Baluarte or the Navarre School of Drama (ENT): three spaces with attractive cultural activities that feature dance, music and drama on their regular programmes. Check out their calendars and pick the show that takes your fancy.

    . Shopping, traditional and modern: traditional shops, artisan shops and brand-based stores will entice you to buy a souvenir or some food and drink to remind you of your visit to the city. You will come across them as you wander through the city's old town. Many of these souvenirs are related to the fiesta of San Fermín: t-shirts, neckscarves, wineskin bottles, espadrilles, berets, figurines of ceremonial giants, big-heads and "kilikis", etc. As for food and drink, remember to take home a good wine from Navarre, preserved asparagus or peppers, PGS cheese or some of the city's typical sweet creations. A visit to Pamplona's oldest food market, located at the back of the City Hall, should also be an essential stop. And for other less traditional shopping, you can head for Avenida de Carlos III and its surrounding streets in the city's Segundo Ensanche (second extension), where you will find all kinds of brand-based stores. However, if you'd like to find a specific shop before heading out, access our Pamplona shopping search engine .

    . See the starts projected on the dome of the Planetarium, one of the biggest in Europe. Located in Yamaguchi park, you will be able to see the stars and the planets for real here, as well as special effects and striking audiovisuals. [+ info]

    . Watch a Basque pelota game in Labrit: also known as La Bombonera thanks to the great atmosphere during games, it has capacity for almost 1,000 spectators. You can join in on Saturday afternoons and watch bets being placed as well as the noble combat itself between "pelotaris" (pelota players) and witnessing one of Navarre's native sports. Ticket prices depend on the level of the game and the location of your seat in the "frontón" or court (from €10). [+ info]


    . Pamplona at night: Pamplona is a small city, so everything is relatively close. A good place to warm up is in the old town. Calle San Nicolás and the arcades in Castle Square are full of bars. If you get there early, this is the nerve centre of poteo (the local word for going out for a few drinks) and "pinchos" (tapas). A little further on you will find Calle Jarauta and Calle Calderería. As the night progresses, many of Pamplona's people head for San Juan, where there are many discos and bars with music for all kinds of tastes: jazz, techno, rock or pop. Access the list of bars in Pamplona [.pdf, 48 Kb].

  • A recommended route for getting to know the area around Pamplona
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    Location

    Wifi zone: 

    Consulte las zonas wifi gratuitas de la ciudad aquí.

    PRICES

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    Outstanding events

    . Fiestas of San Fermin ( 6 to 14 de july).

    Guided visit

    Description: Múltiples opciones de visitas guiadas a la ciudad. Acceda al buscador de empresas de visitas guiadas en Pamplona.

    Services

    • Accommodation
    • Bank
    • Cashpoint
    • Child-park
    • Cinema
    • Discotheque
    • Fronton
    • Guided visits
    • Health centre
    • Internet
    • Medical centre
    • Outdoor sports area
    • Petrol station
    • Pharmacy
    • Picnic spot
    • Pub
    • Restaurant / coffee-houses
    • Shpping centre
    • Spa
    • Sports centre
    • Supermarket / shop
    • Swimming-pool
    • Theatre
    • Tourist Office

    Observations

    el mercado semanal se celebra los domingos por la mañana (salvo julio y agosto) en el polígono Landaben, calle A.

    Observations

    *Para moverse por Pamplona, utilice el servicio de autobuses urbanos "las villavesas". Acceda al buscador de líneas para conocer recorridos, frecuencias, horarios y paradas.

    Opening hours, dates and guide prices. We recommend you confirm with the entity in question.