Pamplona, Spain is famous as the home of the world’s largest bull run. The city of Pamplona though is not just about the bull run. It’s also the capital of the Navarra region of Spain, the site of ancient Roman excavations, home to palaces, churches, museums, and some superb examples of Baroque architecture.
Pamplona is a large city with many must see things. Start out with these five, some of the best things to see and do Pamplona has to offer.
The City Walls – Three quarters of the old city walls still remain standing in Pamplona, and were designated a national monument in 1937. Today, the walls are surrounded by small parks and gardens and are beautiful to walk around. They make for some pretty amazing photographs too.
Look for el Portal de Francia (known as ‘The French Entrance’ in English), the Ciudadela, (the Old Fortress) and the Taconera Gardens, just to name a few of the lovely city wall sights. The Ciudadela is akin to a small museum with some interesting exhibits about Pamplona through the ages, as well as information on how the walls were used for centuries to defend the city.
Museo de Navarra – One of the region’s main museums, the Museo de Navarra is in an absolutely massive building, which used to be Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, and houses one of the finest collections of art and artifacts in Spain. Start in the basement, where you’ll see exhibits from the earliest history of the region and, floor by floor, move up the four storey building until you reach the excellent art collections.
There’s everything here from religious artifacts to old coins, prehistoric relics to Medieval weapons, Renaissance art to modern painters from the Navarra region.
Pamplona Cathedral (Cathedral Baslica Santa Mara la Real) – Work was begun on the Cathedral in the 13th century and was somewhat finished 150 years later, with some additions still ongoing as late as the 19th century. That’s why you’ll see it’s composed of several different styles of architecture — Gothic, Renaissance, Neo Classic and more.
It’s famous for having Spain’s second largest bell, a crypt holding the remains of a number of Spain’s kings and queens, and the home of a treasury of fine Spanish religious artifacts.
Eat Traditional Pamplona Cuisine – Pamplona is famous in Spain for its steaks, ox, veal and lamb dishes. You’ll find everything from typical steak dishes to rich stews, sausages and foie gras. Of course, the famous dishes served in Pamplona’s restaurants are dishes made from the town’s famous bulls, with these in large supply during the San Fermin festival (they’ve got to do something with the bulls that are killed). Look for bull’s tail stews, young fighting bull steaks and bull’s feet.
Of course, if you’re not a bull meat fan, there are plenty of other wonderful Pamplona dishes. Fish, lamb, vegetable dishes, pancakes and sweet pastries and desserts are just a few of the delicious things on offer.
Restaurante Don Pablo is famous in Pamplona for its entrees and its wonderful tapas bar, and Restaurante Sarasate is the place to go if you enjoy a good barbecue.
Take a Walk Through Pamplona – One of the greenest cities in Spain, Pamplona is an excellent place for walking. You can walk around the old City Walls and the Citadel, hike part of the “Pilgrim’s Road” to Santiago, or check out Arga River Park and its market gardens, dams, fields, parks and bridges. Check out Pamplona’s City Council website (see link below) for lots of information about city walks and hikes.