15 Things to do in Pamplona
The month of July goes to Pamplona. People from all around the world travel to the city during the month of July just to be a part of the most famous event of running bulls. It is a part of July’s San Fermin festival. It is both blessings and injustice that this city is famous by its status as the world’s bull running nexus. There is a lot, lot more to it. Museums, culture, soldiers, weather and what not. Let’s check out all these one at a time…
1. Plaza del Castillo
The main square is affectionately referred to their living room (el cuarto de estar) by the people of Pamplona. It is and actually the epicenter of community life for this city. For political demonstrations, military parades, and even bullfights, it has been a historically substantial venue. Café Iruña is the most famous among other cafes and it has got its reason as well. Ernest Hemingway evidently spent his time writing the iconic “The Sun Also Rises”. That literature immortalized much of Pamplona’s cityscape in prose.
2. The city walls
Since Roman times, Pamplona has been a strategic territory in the north of Spain. The Spanish army had to demolish some sections of the citadel due to overpopulation within its city walls. Yet the majority of these walls still stand proud and splendid. Visitors can adore reenactments of battle scenes. Concerts which flawlessly incorporate these structures into their performances, will take your breath away.
In the Yamaguchi Park, Pamplona’s state-of-the-art planetarium was built in 1993. For the last 25 years, Planetarium has embraced its 200,000 annual visitors. From the origins of the universe to all the way to the latest discoveries in the field of astronomy are the theme of the plentiful expositions in the impressive dome of the Tornamira Hall. A perfect destination for people of all ages and countries, particularly those interested in the sciences.
4. Pamplona Cathedral
The Cathedral of Pamplona is close to the Plaza del Castillo and just inside the ancient town walls. In the Gothic style, the cathedral was built in the 15th century. However the Neoclassical facade and towers are from 1780. Move in the cathedral to appreciate the grandiose sanctuary with its splendid gospel choir created by Miguel de Ancheta. Every corner i=has its own significance and so is to be given special attention.
5. Running of the Bulls
A 250 years old tradition, bull’s running is a element of the San Fermín Festival that starts on the July 6th and continues to the July 14th. This is the event that most people know the city for. Hemingway’s classic, “The Sun Also Rises”, first brought this to world’s attention. Bull-runs are held daily to the end of the festival. Six oxen and six fighting bulls and are first released from a cage. They are made to run the 825-metre passage through the old-town. Finally, into the Pamplona’s amphitheater is where they’ll be killed in fights. Wearing a white uniform with a neckerchief, people run around the bulls which proves to be seriously dangerous activity, with people wounded each year.
6. Ciudadela de Pamplona
Built during the reign of King Felipe II, this 16th-century fortress was constructed by an Italian military engineer. Only three have survived from the five defense bastions which collectively make pentagonal fortress design. The building now unfolds into several exhibition rooms and the surroundings have been converted into a charming public park.
7. Iglesia de San Nicolás
It lies halfway besides the Paseo de Sarasate, an elegant and wide-ranging avenue parallel to many other monumental structures. The church was originally of Romanesque grace and was built in 12th century. San Nicolás is the only church in Pamplona that has reserved its original Romanesque structure. This elegant church historically served as a monopoly for the San Nicolás period but was almost demolished during a Castilian invasion of the city. Later, most of the church's interior was reconditioned in Gothic style with an inspiring vaulted nave. Beautiful stained-glass windows also adds to the sightful beauty. This church is open to the public for visits every day.
8. Plaza de Toros and Bullfighting Monument
The Plaza de Toros is the amphitheater of Pamplona. It is situated on the Paseo de Hemingway. The place is named in honor of a great aficionado, Ernest Hemingway, in th sports of bullfighting. A monument that pays tribute to the famous author is in front of the bullring. Monument of the Bulls is called the Monumento al Encierro. It is found nearby, on the Avenida Roncesvalles and is a striking contemporary sculpture. This unique work illustrates the emblematic sport of Pamplona, the dramatic and chaotic rush of bull fight. The visual of bulls and runners seems to miraculously freeze in time while still seizing moment. Each character is full of expression and emotion. You can literally feel the anxiety and fear of the courageous runners putting their maximum efforts to leave out of danger.
9. The Baluarte Conference Center and Auditorium
The Baluarte Conference Center and Auditorium is in the centre or core of Pamplona. It was designed by the architect named Patxi Mangado. The Main Theater offers a best view from every corner underneath the ceiling. It gives stage to classical ballet, operas, and theater performances. The Chamber Music Room, containing perfect acoustics and necessarily high-tech audiovisual tools, presents music gigs, symphony concerts, and film screenings. An award-winning chef Enrique Martínez, offers an epicurean restaurant service at the center.
10. Museo de Navarra
The Museo de Navarra is located in a lovely historic building which is an old pilgrims' hospital with a 1556’s Plateresque façade. The museum in its 34 different rooms displays diversified collection. The exhibitions include a range of archaeological objects and fine arts. Make sure you see the 11th-century Moorish ivory casket found in the Monastery of Leyre outside Córdoba without fail.
11. Iglesia de San Saturnino
One of Pamplona's most emblematic churches, the Iglesia de San Saturnino was built between the 13th and 14th centuries. While the rest of the church demonstrates Gothic style, the early Romanesque architecture is reflected in church towers. Topped with a rooster weathervane, the needles of the clock face initiates of the Fiesta de San Fermín on July 6, every year.
From the balcony of the Town Hall, in the noon of 6th of July, the exemplary inaugural of the festivities takes place. For praising Saint Fermín, holding red neckerchiefs in the air with two hands, thousands of people would join in chants. Following this a firework is lit as a gesture to begin the festival. Regional TV usually cover and telecast the event live. A local politician or a star football player or local celebrity would be the person in charge of leading the chants and lighting the firework.
13. The Taconera Park
Who doesn’t want to meet local artist and have a word with them? Viennese Café in the park is a popular meeting place among students and local artists. Pamplona’s most beautiful green space, situated nearby the olden walls of the Ancient Town. The expansive gardens cover 90,000 square meters. The peaceful open space offering variety of trees and flowers is undoubtedly a tourist’s delight. One of the highlights, especially for children, is the small zoo that is home to ducks, swans, peacocks, and deer.
14. Archivo Real y General de Navarra
The Royal and General Archive of Navarra finds its house in a very important building that was once the Fort of the Kings of Navarre where the monarchs used to live. The palace is one of the oldest buildings in Pamplona as it was built in the 12th century. The Archive is being maintained by the Administration of Navarra, with the strong purpose to preserve and share the region’s documentary heritage. For research purposes, many cultural organizations as well as historians visit the Archive. This site is open to the public in weekdays and bingo, admission is free from tickets.
15. Urbasa Andía Natural Park
Travel for an hour towards west Pamplona and witness two mountain ranges, the Andía and Urbasa meet. Lush with vegetation, it’s a tranquil landscape that is also the birthplace of several of the province’s rivers. The home of the Urederra River is the most gorgeous sight, where the spring splashes down a 100-metre waterfall shrouded by woodlands of elm, hazelnut, oak, maple and yew. An elevated strip of green meadow land and overgrown beech forest can be seen in between the high ground.