Pamplona Spain

Pamplona Spain

Pamplona Spain

Pamplona Spain

The motorhome aire in Pamplona, a city in the North of Spain is both functional and full. We arrive in the early evening and drive through the barrier, before choosing a vacant space amongst the motorhomes.

At 10 Euro a night, payable at the meter when you leave, it’s actually a good deal for one of Spain’s top city locations.

We’re here at the end of August 2022, after several weeks meandering through North East corners of Spain. Now, we’re about to embark on the final leg of the journey, as we head towards the coast and San Sebastián.

We’re quite excited to see Pamplona, because not only is it the capital of Navarra, but it also has a very famous tradition. Yes, Pamplona in Spain is home to the festival of The Running of The Bulls!

A short walk to the centre

Unfortunately, a storm sets in for the evening, despite the rain, there’s no relief from the soaring temperatures.

Instead of getting a soaking, we decide to stay firmly indoors, making a cosy shelter, if not a warm, sticky one.

As the morning sun brings the dawn of a new day, we get on our walking shoes and head towards the centre. Fortunately, it’s only a 15-minute walk away, leading us into the deserted streets of Pamplona itself.

I can’t say it’s a particularly scenic route, but there’s a proper path on the gradual uphill walk.

Pamplona is empty

Now, we’re not often out before 9am, so today is quite unusual for us. What we don’t realise until we get into the centre, is that Pamplona is absolutely empty at this time in the morning.

In some ways, that’s a good thing, but in another the ambience of this large city is lacking. Anyway, not to be downhearted. At the end of the day, the solitude is welcoming and makes a more intimate sightseeing experience.

Actually, we find ourselves a little lost, because of the endless streets where shops are yet to open. It’s confusing, if only through our own doing. Yes, we don’t have a map and sometimes google doesn’t seem to help the same.

A quick stop at the tourist office provides us with a useful paper map, an essential accessory to navigate the vast swathes of narrow streets.

Plaza’s and Parks and Bulls – Pamplona Spain

I have to say, Pamplona turns out to be rather nice. Yes, it’s huge, but there’s somehow a feisty feel to this place. Maybe it’s the traditions which ring throughout the large plaza’s and leafy parks.

After all, Pamplona is home to the most wild and thunderous festival of them all – “The Running of the Bulls”.

For a while we pause in the middle of the Plaza del Castillo. Here on a beautiful band stand, we gaze out across pavement cafe’s, as locals go about their morning rituals.

All around the building’s seem to glisten, rising above the streets as more people arrive. It’s beginning to look more like a city as tourists and locals merge.

These parts still hold tradition close to heart and it’s evident in so many aspects of life.

The Bull Ring and Running of the Bulls

We happen upon the Plaza de Toros, set within a shady area off the one of the main shopping streets.

It’s not open today, but the bull ring is the centre of life during the Running of The Bulls festival, every July.

Dating from the 14th century, this age old tradition sees the bulls charging through the narrow streets, running alongside those who choose to take their life into their hands. Unbelievably, 16 people have died since 1924 in this highly dangerous escapade, let alone countless who are injured.

The bulls are let loose every morning during the week of 6-14 July each year. From the starting point, they race through the streets of Pamplona, the aim being to reach the bullring. Then an afternoon bull fight takes place to excited crowds.

Not only is it a massive event for the bulls and the runners, but also for spectators, who book their spots on balconies above the narrow streets months in advance.

After walking around the exterior of the bull ring, we venture towards the Monumeto al Encierro. This is an 11m long, 4m wide bronze statue, showing nine bulls and 11 runners in various states of the chase.

It’s a prominent piece, set within a pedestrianised part of the shopping streets and really sets the tone of Pamplona perfectly.

Bustling narrow steets and The cathedral

Walking through these same bustling narrow streets later in the morning, brings a true sense of the scale of the festival.

Not only is it now busy, but the reality of those bulls and runners in these tight spots brings a chill to the spine.

Pamplona has a mix of tourist shops, unusual independent retailers and just about everything else thrown in. Overall, it’s the type of place you could while away a few hours, especially if you enjoy shopping.

Leading off these streets brings you to the cathedral, a charming stone building, dominating the city from its position above the city. Below, are the city walls or ramparts which look huge from our view point.

Close to the cathedral is an official stop for the Camino Santiago de Compostela. By now, there’s people with sore feet and large rucksacks everywhere. Each walking in the footsteps of those who’ve walked this route since the 11th century.

The Citadel – Pamplona Spain

This huge fortified, star-shaped citadel is remarkably intact, considering it dates to 1571. We’ve walked miles it seems, crossing large busy roads and through parks to reach the entrance.

In fact, it’s one of the best military structures remaining from Spain’s Renaissance period. As we stand within the grounds, we can see why – this place is quite something.

Once surrounded by moats, these are now grassy entertainment areas and walking paths.

It’s an arty kind of place and here artists gather to display works. Walking along the neat pathways, criss-crossing through the centre, is rather special. There’s no entrance fee, you can just walk around, enjoying this grand place at your leisure.

Pamplona – conclusion

So would we return to Pamplona? Overall, we actually quite like this city. The capital of Navarra with its quirky, colourful buildings bring a youthful feel.

However, we possibly wouldn’t return now we’ve been here, but we wouldn’t have missed seeing it.

Given the ease of parking overnight with the motorhome, and the unique heritage of this city, we definitely recommend a visit.

thanks for reading about Pamplona, spain. next time we head to san sebastian before reaching biarritz. don’t forget to like, follow and share, on social media too.