Pamplona is also known by its Basque name of Iruna. It is the capital of the autonomous region of Navarre and the second largest city in the Basque Cultural Region which incorporates French and Spanish territory. It was a fortified city which played a significant role in border defenses in the Middle Ages. It is situated in a rounded valley known as the Pamplona basin. The city has rain all year round and temperatures around 40º Celsius in summer. Pamplona was brought to the western world's attention when Ernest Hemingway wrote about the annual San Fermin festival and the running of the bulls which take place annually in July.
1.Casco Viejo - Old Town
The old town of Pamplona was settled in Roman times and did not expand until 1890. It is a pedestrian zone at the highest point of the city. The layout is medieval with irregular blocks and narrow but deep buildings, with vertical gaps between them. The housing is dense and the population is aging. Many of the buildings are in need of repair which is being undertaken. There are several bazaars and restaurants in the area. It is still a commercial hub and increasingly, a tourist and leisure center. The central point is the Plaza del Castillo and many of the city's monument are in the old town.
The walls were built in 1423 incorporating and protecting the three boroughs that made up Pamplona. In 1512 it became a strategic border outpost as a defense against the French. In 1571, the Citadel was built, reinforcing the walls with many bastions. The walls also prevented the town from expanding until 1888 when permission was granted to remove two bastions. In 1925, the southern wall was demolished. Three quarters of the wall has been conserved. Visitors can view the history at the Interpretive Center. There are two walks, along the upper and the lower parts.
3.The Citadel - Parks and Gardens
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The Citadel and the Vuelta del Castillo, the area surrounding it form a large open space in the city of Pamplona. The citadel was built in 1571, as a border defense against constant incursions by the French. It is one of the finest examples of military architecture in Spain. It was pentagonal with a bastion at each point. It was only taken once, briefly in 1808, during a snowstorm. The area is now a park with gardens and fountains, which serves as an exhibition area for contemporary art and sculptures. Cultural events and festivities, such as fireworks displays are held at the Citadel.
4.Interpretive Center of the Fortifications of Pamplona
The center is situated in five barracks in a small impenetrable fort within the city walls. The barracks have been converted into display areas depicting the evolution of the fortifications, the strategies and tactics employed, the human side of fortress life and other Spanish fortresses. The center makes use of interactive displays, audiovisuals, photographs, texts and drawings to tell the story of the walls and citadel. Graffiti etched by soldiers on duty has been conserved. From the center, visitors begin the 5 km walk along the city walls. Signposts along the way explain the various features.
The 15th century building with its 18th century facade is thought to be the third church to stand on the site. The French Gothic cloisters date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It is a functioning Roman Catholic church and is the home of the bishop. The cathedral has hosted marriages, coronations and funerals since the Middle Ages. Royalty, nobility and clergy are buried there. The music chapel, likewise, dates back to Medieval days and performs 50-60 times a year, during regular services and concerts, as well as nationally and internationally. The Museum of the Diocese has artwork from many abandoned churches of Navarre.
Curia Street s / n. 31001 Pamplona, Phone: +34-948-21-25-94
6.The Castle Square of Pamplona
The Plaza del Castillo is the hub of Pamplona. For centuries it has been a popular meeting place and the home of important events, including the Pamplona bullfight. It is the iconic center of historic downtown. It was not formed as a result of city planning so it is an imperfect rectangle with many alleyways leading off it. Buildings of various heights, styles and periods face onto it. Its name was briefly changed to Plaza del Constuticion in 1820 and Plaza del Republica in 1873 and 1931. In the early 21st century it was remodeled and made into a pedestrian zone.
This museum seeks to preserve and promote the heritage and history of the Foral Community. It was opened to the public in 1910 and moved to its present premises, the former Hospital of Our Lady of Mercy in 1956, next to the city walls in the northwest sector of the old town. Archaeological findings on the site date back to Roman times. The museum has artifacts from the Roman, Spanish Muslim, Romanesque and Gothic eras, including art, mosaics, murals and portraits. The capitals of the Cathedral cloisters are kept in the museum. The museum hosts cultural programs and educational workshops.
These 9 ha gardens were first mentioned in 1719. They are the oldest and most beautiful gardens in Pamplona. Ancient trees and floral species line the broad pathways. The moat is home to free range deer, peacocks, ducks, pheasants and swans which can be viewed from above. Sculptures, fountains and triumphal arches add structural interest. The iconic Mariblanca statue, signifying abundance, is situated in the park. Monuments commemorate local 19th century musical celebrities. Benches and cafés provide places to relax and there is a play area for children. Dogs are welcome.
9.Pamplona City Hall
This Baroque / Neoclassical building faces the Plaza Consistorial, a small square in the heart of the old quarter of Pamplona. The building has been renovated on several occasions and was demolished in 1951 with only the facade remaining. Ionic, Doric and Corinthian columns hold up the balconies on the four-story building. The pediment depicts Fame, the one who heralds festivals. She is holding the coats of arms of Navarra and Pamplona. In the middle is a clock. Every year on 6 July at noon, all eyes are on the clock when the Fiesta of San Fermin begins.
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10.San Fermin, the Universal Fiesta
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The Fiesta of San Fermin began as a tribute to the martyred first bishop of Pamplona. The original date was in October but autumn weather is not conducive to celebration so the festival was moved to July. The religious authorities opposed the festival for many years as it became less about the saint and more about consumption of fun, food and strong beverages. The running of the bulls is one of the founding events of the week-long festivities. The procession of the 160 year old Giants and Bigheads was added in the 19th century. The festival became an international event after Ernest Hemingway wrote about it in 'The Sun Also Rises'.
11.Iglesia de San Nicolas
San Nicolás, San Saturnino and Navarreira were the three boroughs that merged to form Pamplona. Before 1423 when they came together behind the city walls, they were constantly at odds with each other. Hence the Church of San Nicolás had a dual function. It was a place of worship but also a defensive, military structure. It was built in the 12th century but was destroyed by fire during one of the skirmishes and was rebuilt in 1231. There have been several changes during its existence, leaving Romanesque and Gothic traces. The Baroque organ was installed in the 17th century.
C / San Miguel, 15-31001 Pamplona, Phone: +34-94-82-21-28
12.The Palace of Navarra
The palace is the seat of regional government. It is a neoclassical building, with several columns, built in 1840. It is situated in the old town on the Plaza del Castillo. The Throne Room is luxuriously decorated with marble, velvet, mirrors, chandeliers and candelabras. There are portraits of the 32 kings of Navarre, including one of Ferdinand VII, painted by Goya. In the gardens is a 37 m high Sequoia, which was brought back from America and planted in 1855. It is the tallest tree in Pamplona. At 12 noon, the clock plays the Hymn of Navarra and at Christmas it plays carols.
13.Museo Universidad de Navarra
The creation of this museum was prompted by a donation from Maria Beaumont, of 49 works of contemporary artists, including Pablo Picasso. This collection dovetailed with the legacy contribution, by Jose Ortiz Echague, of 14000 photographs and 100000 negatives. These represent the history of photography in Spain from the 19th century to the present day. Rafael Moneo designed the abstract building. It is in the valley between the two campuses symbolizing the museum's quest to diffuse art into all the faculties of the university. There are exhibitions, conferences and classes throughout the academic year.
14.Church of San Lorenzo
In old town Pamplona, near the Taconera Gardens, stands the small church of San Lorenzo. Inside is a statue of the saint, holding a grill. This signifies his martyrdom by being burnt at the stake. The more famous statue of San Fermin is in a side chapel. It is a wooden statue, draped in a red cape to protect it from the bulls when it is paraded through the streets during the San Fermin festival. This chapel is very popular with wedding parties and there is a long waiting list. In another side chapel is the statue of La Dolorosa, the grieving mother of Jesus.
15.Monument of the Encierro
Rafael Huerta of Bilboa created the sculpture that captures a moment of tension and anguish during the Bull Run of Pamplona. It is located in the Avenidas Roncesvalles, with the action heading for the bullring. It is made out of cast bronze and is 11m by 4m. Eleven men, six fighting bulls and three oxen depict the speed and chaos of the 825 m run which typically lasts 3-4 minutes. It is the main event of the annual San Fermin festival, where brave young men pit their wits against the power of the bulls in the open streets of Pamplona, en route to the bullring.
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The planetarium is housed in a red brick building with a large cylindrical tower. It is located in the Yamaguchi Park, a Japanese garden, named after the Pamplona's twin city. The School of the Stars fuses science and culture. It offers conferences, congresses, classes and workshops. There are permanent exhibitions and regular events. Technology training includes tuition in 3D printing, robotics and virtual reality. Productions made in Pamplona can be seen in Spain and around the globe. The facility is for hire for private and corporate functions. Shows can be customized for special occasions.
Calle Sancho Ramírez, s / n, 31008 Pamplona, Navarra, Phone: +34-948-26-26-28
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Café Iruna was made famous by Ernest Hemingway and the institution has kept his memory alive in a pub named after him. Many of his semi-autobiographical novels were written in this creative environment where artists through the ages have met and conversed. The iconic multi-storied edifice was established in 1888 on the Plaza del Castillo. It is in the heart of Pamplona's tradition with front row seats of the San Fermin fiesta and bullfight. The vintage décor reinforces its role in history. The food is also a drawcard, with menus for daytime, evenings and weekends. Skewers, snacks and items on the Terrace menu are available all day.
Plaza del Castillo, 44. 31001, Pamplona (Navarra), Phone: +34-948-22-20-64
18.Park of the Senses
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In Noáin, 7 km outside Pamplona, is a 25000 square meter park that has been designed to appeal to all five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. There is an 800 m self-guided tour that takes in all these sensations. The English, French, Japanese, Mediterranean and edible gardens all radiate out from a central pond and fountains. The park was established in 2006, according to ecological principles. Thirty tree species, 95 shrubs, 70 perennials and countless annuals attract and sustain birds, butterflies and other beneficial insects. The park hosts classes for the public and professionals, and welcomes school groups of all ages.
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19.The Nut - Restaurant
La Nuez is a Spanish restaurant with French and Italian influences. It is situated on the edge of old town, in a late 19th century building. The black and white minimalist, antique modernist décor has been deliberately chosen so as not to detract from the food. Traditional food is prepared, using lost techniques and recipes from the same period as the house. Tribute is paid to 19th century French chef, Georges Auguste Escoffier's no-frills approach to food preparation and presentation. There is an a la carte menu all year round and a set menu in summer to take advantage of the fresh seasonal produce.
Calle Taconera 4 Bajo,31001 Pamplona, Spain, Phone: +34-948-22-81-30
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La Olla bar and restaurant is next to the Bullring in Pamplona. The front section is the bar where a delicious variety of tapas can be enjoyed. Behind the bar is the relaxed, tavern-like restaurant that sells comfort food from the Basque region, accompanied by Spanish and other wines. There are different menus for weekday and weekends, as well as set menus for each day. Fish, beef and vegetarian options are available, as well as artisan confectionery. La Olla is open 7 days a week.
Av. Roncesvalles 2, 31002 Pamplona, Phone: +34-948-22-95-58
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Caso Otano is in the main road of San Nicolás, close to many of Pamplona's tourist attractions. It was established in 1912 and many of the casserole recipes still in use date back to a revamp in 1936. There is a tapas bar on the ground floor and an elegant restaurant, with exposed brick, on the first floor. Entrees include meat, fish and vegetarian dishes as well as shared meals. There is a diverse dessert menu and a wine list that includes Spanish wines and French champagnes. In 1975, a pension with 11 rooms was added above the restaurant.
Calle San Nicolas 5, 31001 Pamplona, Spain, Phone: +34-948-22-50-95
This is a starred Michelin restaurant. It serves modern cuisine in a family atmosphere.
Emilio Arrieta Street, 3 Pamplona, Navarra, Phone: +34-948-22-80-35
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The Europa restaurant is meters away from Plaza del Castillo. It has enjoyed Michelin star status since 1993, for its Haute Cuisine. It also has two suns according to the Guía Repsol rating. There are seven private dining rooms, each with its own distinct décor, that can seat between 4 and 200 guests. There is a choice of set menus with multiple courses paired with wines, followed by coffee and petit fours. The comprehensive wedding service includes all arrangements made for the ceremony, reception, dinner and overnight accommodation for guests in the Hotel Europa.
C / Espoz y Mina 11, CP. 31002 Pamplona, Phone: +34-948-22-18-00
At the entrance to the establishment is the bar. The pinxtos, available as bar snacks, have received many awards and many consider the variety of tapas to be of the best in the city. In the restaurant, the seven course tasting menu, including dessert and coffee, takes you on a gastronomical tour of several countries. The chef is creative, combining ingredients in new and innovative ways. There is indoor and outdoor seating and a tent is available for private functions. Baserriberri is closed on Sundays.
San Nicolás, 32. Pamplona- Iruña, Phone: +34-948-22-20-21
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24 Best Things to Do in Pamplona, Spain
- Casco Viejo - Old Town, Photo: kikebalenzategui/stock.adobe.com
- City Walls, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- The Citadel - Parks and Gardens, Photo: GIRON PHOTOGRAPHY/stock.adobe.com
- Interpretive Center of the Fortifications of Pamplona, Photo: erllre/stock.adobe.com
- Cathedral, Photo: asfloro/stock.adobe.com
- The Castle Square of Pamplona, Photo: lunamarina/stock.adobe.com
- Navarra Museum, Photo: JackF/stock.adobe.com
- Taconera Gardens, Photo: kike_fernandez/stock.adobe.com
- Pamplona City Hall, Photo: Ana/stock.adobe.com
- San Fermin, the Universal Fiesta, Photo: Jose Hernaiz/stock.adobe.com
- Iglesia de San Nicolas, Photo: KarSol/stock.adobe.com
- The Palace of Navarra, Photo: KarSol/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Universidad de Navarra, Photo: schankz/stock.adobe.com
- Church of San Lorenzo, Photo: Luis/stock.adobe.com
- Monument of the Encierro, Photo: KarSol/stock.adobe.com
- Pamplona Planetarium, Photo: Jose Manuel Dobarro/stock.adobe.com
- Cafe Iruna, Photo: boysen/stock.adobe.com
- Park of the Senses, Photo: NPD stock/stock.adobe.com
- The Nut - Restaurant, Photo: kichigin19/stock.adobe.com
- La Olla, Photo: La Olla
- Caso Otano, Photo: Olga/stock.adobe.com
- Rodero, Photo: BillionPhotos.com/stock.adobe.com
- Europa, Photo: Europa
- Baserriberri, Photo: Baserriberri
- Cover Photo: borisb17/stock.adobe.com