Pamplona, the capital of Navarre in northern Spain, is famous worldwide for the running of the bulls during the San Fermin fiesta, and for being one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite cities. Hemingway visited Pamplona numerous times and wrote about the city and his experience of it in his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. A tour of Pamplona can incude a walking tour around the city retracing the writer’s footsteps. This beautiful city is also a popular stop for walkers following the ancient pilgrim route, the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James).
Pamplona was founded in Roman times in 75 BC by general Pompey, who became part of Julius Caesar’s First Triumvirate and was married to Caesar’s daughter, Julia. Tradition says he founded it as a Roman military settlement in his fight against Quintus Sertorius, leader of a revolt against Rome and who was then supported by Calagurris (modern-day Calahorra in the La Rioja region).
By the 9th century, it had become the capital of the kingdom of Navarra, which enjoyed great prestige during the Middle Ages until 1512 when its territories south of the Pyrenees mountains was annexed to the Spanish kingdom. The otherwise quiet city of Pamplona explodes into life in July for the San Fermin fiesta with its daredevil bull running, brought to fame through Hemingway’s novel. If you want to experience Pamplona’s bullfighting culture, free up your evenings as it begins 6:30 pm every evening of the San Fermin festival.
On a walking tour, visit Pamplona’s picturesque old town dating from medieval times. This district is dominated by its cathedral–Catedral di Santa Maria–exhibiting a variety of architectural styles, from a Neoclassical facade to French Gothic elements. Other notable monuments include the San Saturnino church and the Museo de Navarra, housed in a former medieval hospital.
After your city tour, continue to enjoy the amazing landscapes and cuisine of northern Spain by venturing out of Pamplona to walk the Way of St James. There is plenty of accommodation styles to choose from; some hotels also offer luggage transfers for those walking the Camino, especially solo travellers.
Articles about Spain published by Odyssey Traveller
The following list of articles published by Odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of Spain when visiting;
- Questions About Spain
- 15 of the best places in Spain to visit.
- Travel notes for Barcelona
- Ten of the best books published on Spain
- Ten of the Best art galleries in Europe to visit.
- Discovering Spain (and Portugal)