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Pamplona is the capital of the province of Navarra in the Basque Country of Spain. Pamplona is an attractive city at any time of the year but it is for the Fiestas de San Fermin, Pamplona's famous bull running festival in July, that the visitors flock in.
Pamplona has an attractive old town at the centre of which is the Plaza del Castillo. This is edged with bars and restaurants and is an excellent spot to stop for a coffee or a meal and watch the world go by. Bullfights once took place in this square until these were moved to Plaza de Toros.
In the streets radiating out from the Plaza del Castillo there are lots of sights to see. In particular look out for the Santa Maria cathedral. The cathedral is largely gothic but has an 18th century neo-classical facade. Inside are the tombs of Carlos III and Elanor and there is a fabulous gothic cloister. Particularly noteworthy is its southern entrance doorway, the Puerta de la Preciosa with its beautiful carvings.
The cathedral's Museo Discesano is housed in the very interesting kitchen and refectory and display Gothic altarpieces and statues from Navarro. Behind the cathedral is the best section of the remaining city walls. From these you can get excellent views of Pamplona and of the Rio Arga which lies on the other side of the walls.
Another highlight is the Palacio de Navarra which is a Baroque building and has an ornate throne room used by the kings of Navarra. The town hall also has an impressive Baroque facade.
Be sure to head for the ruins of the Citadel and take a stroll in the surrounding gardens.
Even if you are not here for the bull-running, take a look at the Plaza de Toros - Pamplona's bullring.
The San Fermin Festival
The Fiestas de San Fermin takes place from midnight on the 6th July to midnight on the 14th July and during this period there is a non-stop party. The 'encierro' or bull-running takes place each morning at 8am when six bulls are released near the plaza Santo Domingo and 'run' to the bullring. They run through the narrow cobbled streets with hundreds of locals and tourists braving their horns to run with them.
During the week there are fairs, parades, music and dancing. If you get the chance make sure you go!
The Fiesta became popular with tourists after Hemingway described it in his book 'The Sun Also Rises'.
Museums in Pamplona
The Museo de Navarra is housed in a beautiful old hospital building and has displays relating to Navarra including a painting of the Marques de San Adrian by Goya.
Places to visit nearby
You can find more local travel ideas in the Navarra, La Rioja, Basque Country guide.