11 Very Best Things to do in Pamplona, Navarre
Pamplona, Spain is the birthplace of Basque culture. It is also one of the most visited places in the Basque world. What it is probably most famous for globally is the Running of the Bulls. Don't let that fool you. There is so much more to see and do in Pamplona than just take. Here are the very best things to do in Pamplona, Spain.
Wander the Streets of Casco Antiquo
Casco Antiquo is what the old town or Pamplona is called. It is a large area with many narrow streets and interesting shops. You can find anything from bakeries to vinyl records. It has souvenir shops, museums, markets, restaurants and cultural centers.
It is a perfect place to "get lost" and immerse yourself in the Basque experience. Casco Antiguo is best enjoyed lazily strolling. Take your time, window shop and savor the tranquil pace of life here.
Plaza del Castillo
Plaza del Castillo is at the center of many events that happen in Pamplona. Locals often refer to the plaza as the "living room" of the city. This large plaza is usually bustling with locals and tourists living their best life. It truly is the heart of what is known as Casco Antiguo.
Plaza del Castillo which translates to Castle Plaza once housed such a fortress. Though the castle no longer exists the name has lived on. The plaza took its current form in the 1800s.
There is a large bandstand in the center of the plaza while there are trees that frame the inner part of the square. The Palacio de Diputacion, which is a government building, is located on the south side of the square. It is definitely worth admiring.
Plaza del Castillo has a nice variety of restaurants and cafes that offer pintxos, paella and other traditional Spanish food. Most of these places to eat have patios so you can enjoy the square while enjoying your meal.
Cafe Iruna is an institution. It is probably the most famous restaurant and cafe in Pamplona. Opened in 1888, it is located along the north wall of Plaza del Castillo in Casco Antiguo.
Why is it famous?
Ernest Hemmingway was known to visit Cafe Iruna regularly. He used this cafe as a place of inspiration and it is said that he wrote part of at least five different books here. You can see a bust honouring him inside the cafe.
Walk the Ancient Walls
The walls of Old Pamplona are incredible and are absolutely a must see while in Pamplona. This ancient engineering feat will not let you down. These walls of fortification are more than 5 km long. Construction of the walls began during the reign of the Kingdom of Navarra in the 1400s.
The views from atop the walls are amazing. You can see a long distance over the new city below and off towards the Pyrenees Mountains.
Portal Francia is the only entrance to the old city that is still intact in its original location. It can be found at the north end down a steep pathway.
Taconera Park may just be the most relaxing and mystical location in Pamplona. The botanical gardens provide a romantic atmosphere while the wide pathways allow for you to enjoy your company without feeling cramped.
There is a section of the park that acts as a wildlife reserve and allows you to feel more in nature. A variety of birds laze about while the deer prance back and forth though their section of the park.
Two of the old gates to that old city have also been moved to Taconera Park. The two gates are referred to as portals and go by the names Portal de La Taconera (Taconera Gate) and Portal de San Nicolás (San Nicolás Gate). They can be found on the south end of the park.
The citadel is a massive fortress that you must see. Literally built to fortify and protect the city of Pamplona from invaders, its walls and footprint are massive.
You can walk around the exterior of it and see the different walls, ditches and embankments. Imagine how difficult it must have felt for those who wanted to invade when looking upon such methodical fortification.
The interior of the Citadel is free to enter as it is now a public park. There are a few historical buildings including the old munitions building and ammunition dump.
The city of Pamplona has many beautiful parks and attractions but none of them are like Yamaguchi Park. This Japanese inspired park is expansive and offers many relaxing elements along with over 1,000 different species of vegetation.
The botanical gardens, pond with center fountain and the Galaxy Garden are all worth taking in. There is also a planetarium on site which adds a completely different experience to an already entertaining afternoon.
The City Hall of Pamplona is a beautiful building that was built in the 17th century. The architecture is in the baroque fashion. Atop the building stand two figures that watch over the city.
Next to the City Hall is a piece of the fence used during San Fermin. Just around the corner from the City Hall is the famous corner during the running of the bulls.
San Fermin is a week-long festival that runs from July 7-14. It is by far the most famous event in Pamplona and Navarre as a whole. Festivities kick off with the launching of a single firework. This event is known as Chupinazo.
The next morning is the running of the bulls. Six bulls and six steer chase hundreds of runners that attempt to make it to the end of the 825 meter race untouched.
The race takes roughly 3 minutes and ends at the Pamplona bullring. Festivities and celebrations continue throughout the rest of the week.
If you are not into the bullfighting, skip it and enjoy the rest of the party.
The Pamplona Cathedral formally known as Santa María de la Asunción is the premier church in Pamplona.
This 15th century gothic cathedral is amazing to see inside and out. This cathedral is where coronations of Basque kings would take place.
Monumento al Encierro
The Monumento al Encierro is located on Calle Estafeta. It is just outside of Casco Antiguo, the old town of Pamplona.
The statue itself is a monument to the running of the bulls. It shows several bulls charging through the street angry and possessed.
The competitors dart trying to escape their foes, some of them are about to be trampled.
Pamplona is the birthplace of Basque culture. The city's historical influence can not be understated or ignored. When visiting Pamplona you will always be entertained.
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Authentic Basque Country was started by Adam, on a lazy day in Gorliz, Biscay.