Pamplona is the capital city of Navarre region in northern Spain which was the former kingdom of Navarre.
The city is most famous worldwide for the San Fermin festival, from July 7 to 14, during which the 'running of the bulls' or 'encierro' is one of the main attractions.
Pamplona is located in the middle of Navarre, in a rounded valley known as the Cuenca de Pamplona, which links the mountainous North with the Ebro valley. The climate and landscape of the Cuenca is a mixture between those two main Navarrese geographical regions. Its central position 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. Over the year, the city has gradually grown on both sides of the river.
The Citadel The glacis - is the name given to the open land surrounding this type of fortification. It has been a favourite walk for local people for centuries. These gardens - 'Vuelta del Castillo', are a beautiful green area for a stroll or for sport. The moat - The moat, also form part of this park. This area has a central path which takes walkers past small ponds and sports facilities Guards’ quarters - The main gateway opens out onto 'Avenida del Ejercito'. Inside are the citadel’s guards’ quarters, now municipal storerooms and offices. Gateway of the 'Socorro' and Chapel - This gate open into the Citadel with Vuelta del Castillo via a bridge over the moat, once a drawbridge. Next to the gate is the Chapel, now used for weddings. The inner park - The inner part is a beautiful public park with paths, lawns, numerous species of trees and an open-air exhibition of the finest contemporary sculpture, including some by - Jorge Oteiza, Nestor Barretxea, Vicente Larrea, Alberto Eslava, Ricardo Ugarte, Imanol Aguirre, Pablo Juarros, etc. The Magazine (Polvorín) -
Built in 1694, this is the oldest building in the inner area of the Citadel. It is now the home for art exhibitions. Weapons Building (Sala de Armas) -
This Building originally built in 1725 as a storage place for weapons and arms. It now houses art and cultural exhibitions. Oven -The fortification’s old bread oven is now an exhibition and avant-garde installation centre. Mixed Pavilion (Pabellon de Mixtos) - The two large rooms in this building, first renovated in 1720 provides yet more exhibition space.
The City Walls Media Luna de San Bartolome - You can now walk around three quarters of the original city wall to arrive in the Citadel. You can start your walk in the Park of La Media Luna, and continue beneath the walls in the Park of La Tejeria, or on top, reaching the Bastion of El Redin. Ronda Barbazana - This part of the walk runs parallel to the older parts of the city wall, between the Bastion of Labrit and the Bastion of El Redin. This is one of the most attractive parts of the city, which is behind the Bishop’s Palace and the cathedral complex. Bastion of El Redin - This is the highest point of the city walls and offers goods views of the moat and city beyond the walls. The Meson del Caballo Blanco, an old palace and afterwards a pilgrims’ inn, is located here. The street which leads to the Cathedral is one of the most charming spots in Pamplona. Gateway of France - The city’s oldest gate, called the Gateway of Zumalacarregui dates from 1553 and can be seen from the Bastion of El Redin. It bears a coat of arms carved with the two-headed eagle and the imperial arms. After crossing the River Arga, pilgrims used to pass this gate to enter the mediaeval burgh of Navarreria. Bastion of La Taconera - Continuing along Paseo del Redin, there is the Museum of Navarre and from there, following Paseo de Ronda, the Plaza Virgen de la O. The new gateway, over Avenida de Guipuzcoa, leads to the Bastion of La Taconera, home to the city’s oldest park (1830). The moat contains many animals including deer, ducks, rabbits and peacocks.
The Pamplona Bull Run
This is the festival that most people associate with Pamplona. It is really the festival of San Fermin, and officially begins at midday each day for a week, starting on 7th July every year. Thousands of people congregate in the square awaiting the mayor's official announcement that the fiestas have begun, a rocket is launched and the partying begins.
The origins of the bull run in Pamplona is not clear. There is evidence of the festival from as far back as the 13th century when it seems the events took place in October which coincided with the festival of San Fermin on October 10th. It seems that the modern day celebration has evolved from this as well as individual commercial and bullfighting fiestas which can also be traced back to the 14th century.
Runners must be in the running area by 7.30am. The actual run stretches from the corral at Santo Domingo where the bulls are kept, to the bullring where they will fight that same afternoon. The length of the run is just under a kilometre and the average time of the complete run is about three minutes. The streets through the old town which make up the bull run are walled off so the bulls can't escape. Each day six fighting bulls run the route as well as two herds of bullocks.
This festival (or sport) is highly dangerous and spectators are strongly advised to remain behind barriers which are installed for their safety. Those taking part should ensure they have suitable medical insurance - always remember, if you get injured, this will be considered self-inflicted injury, which will not be covered by most insurance policies, unless specifically specified. But for everyone else, enjoy the spectacle.