NAVARRE – As part of InSpain.News 90 days around Spain, today we visit Pamplona, the capital of Navarre province in northern Spain. It’s best known for San Fermin (the Running of the Bulls) which normally takes place in July each year.
After a two-year absence due to corona restrictions, San Fermin promises to be back in 2022. Even bigger and better than before. As always, the best place to watch from is a balcony overlooking the street. But be prepared to rent it early. Or if you prefer to watch from ground level, you are advised to be there before sunrise. Unless of course you are brave enough and wish to take part in the run with the bulls!
If you do decide to visit Pamplona for the festival, be sure to have a red scarf at the ready. The scarf is a distinctive element of San Fermín. To begin with, people wear it on their wrist or have it in their hand, then when the rocket is fired, it is waved in the air. When the event actually starts, you can then wear it around your neck, or on your head.
Gothic-style churches and medieval fort
As well as tradition, there is much history in the city. Pamplona is a walled city, also home to Gothic-style churches including fortress-like San Nicolás. It is also a major stop along the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route dating back to medieval times.
From the town of Burlada, the Way of St James enters Pamplona amidst orchards and allotments on the banks of the River Arga. To reach the city, pilgrims must cross the Magdalena Bridge, a 12th-century construction declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and a Historical Artistic Monument.
The citadel of Pamplona is an old 16th-17th century military renaissance fort, and its remains sit in the middle of Vuelta del Castillo Park.
As well as a beautiful historic city centre, Pamplona has a unique atmosphere. There are literally hundreds of restaurants and bars. Seemingly tapas or pintxos as they are known here were started in this area. And as such, you may find some more unusual servings. These include sea urchin, grilled foie, brioche bread filled with sheep’s milk and topped with the meat of the sheep.
If you feel like something a little more substantial, then try some bull! Traditional bull stew (Estofado de toro) is made from bull tails, onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, tomato frito, red wine, and saffron.
You cannot visit Pamplona without trying the local cuisine. A visit here will leave you wanting to return.