The city of Pamplona is located within the region of Navarra in northern Spain and has become synonymous with the Fiesta of San Fermin or "El encierro", one of the most well-known events in the country. However, if you don't visit the city during these crazy days in July, there is still plenty to see.
The Old Quarter of Pamplona is one of the most picturesque and simply cannot be missed. Located right in the heart of the city, it was mostly built in medieval times and is characterized by long narrow streets and uneven tall buildings. It is here that many of the city's main attractions and Pamplona accommodations (in spanish: alojamientos en Pamplona) are located.
King Philip II ordered the construction of the city's ancient citadel in 1571 to protect it from French invasions; it was originally a pentagon-shaped fortification with five bastions. The Citadel and the Vuelta del Castillo are considered the best example of Spanish Renaissance military architecture.
Walls of Pamplona
Surrounding the Citadel are the walls of Pamplona, one of the best preserved military structures in Spain and, therefore, a national monument. Take a walk along the walls from the Media Luna to the Taconera parks to see its numerous bastions and defense structures.
To learn more about the walls and the citadel, head to the Centro de Interpretación de las Fortificaciones de Pamplona, located next to the Media Luna Park and the famous bullring. It is located inside the barracks of the wall and displays everything from drawings and short films to interactive screens.
Pamplona Cathedral is a sight to behold with its impressive neoclassical façade and grand Gothic interior. Located in the Old Quarter, it dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries and was one of the most important cathedrals in Spain, where numerous kings were crowned.
In the center of the Casco Viejo is the Plaza del Castillo, covering 150,700 square feet (14,000 square meters) and surrounded by a colorful 18th-century buildings and balconies. In the past, the square was used for everything from bullfights to markets, but today it is more for gathering with friends and drinking or eating in one of the many bars and cafes in the surrounding area.
Museum of Navarra
The best museum in town, the Museo de Navarra is located in the Casco Antiguo and is housed in the old hospital of Nuestra Señora de la Merced. It details the history of Navarre and also exhibits many works of art; one of its highlights is the Roman mosaic of the Triumph of Bacchus. And it has good apartment locations in Pamplona (apartamentos en Pamplona) nearby.
Gateway of France
The Portal de Francia, gateway to the city's fortifications, is an impressive entrance to the old town. It was named the "entrance to France" because the city's enemies came from across the border to the north. At the top of the gate you can see the coat of arms of Charles I of Castile (IV of Navarre).
The oldest and most beautiful park in the city, the Taconera Park is located next to the walls of the old city. An elegant space, it features a lake, moat, flower gardens and many animals such as deer, ducks, peacocks, pheasants and swans roaming freely, as well as the Viennese Café.
Housing Pamplona's City Hall, the Casa Consistorial was built by King Carlos III in 1423 to unite three separate areas of the city. It combines baroque and neoclassical styles and is where the famous running of the bulls begins.