Pamplona is located in the middle of Navarre in a rounded valley, known as the Basin of Pamplona, that links the mountainous North with the Ebro valley. It is 92 km (57 mi) from the city of San Sebastián, 117 km (73 mi) from Bilbao, 735 km (457 mi) from Paris and 407 km (253 mi) from Madrid. The climate and landscape of the basin is a transition between those two main Navarrese geographical regions. Its central position at crossroads has served as a commercial link between those very different natural parts of Navarre.
The historical centre of Pamplona is on the left bank of the Arga, a tributary of the Ebro. The city has developed on both sides of the river. Its climate is Oceanic with influences of Continental Mediterranean.
During the Germanic invasions of 409 and later as a result of Rechiar´s ravaging, Pamplona went through much disruption and destruction, starting a cycle of general decline along with other towns across the Basque territory but managing to keep some sort of urban life. During the Visigothic period (fifth to eighth centuries), Pamplona alternated between self-rule, Visigoth domination or Frankish suzerainty in the Duchy of Vasconia (Councils of Toledo unattended by several Pamplonese bishops between 589 and 684). In the years 466 to 472, Pamplona was conquered by the Visigoth count Gauteric, but they seemed to abandon the restless position soon, struggling as the Visigoth Kingdom was to survive and rearrange its lands after their defeats in Gaul. During the beginning of the 6th century, Pamplona probably stuck to an unstable self-rule, but in 541 Pamplona along with other northern Iberian cities was raided by the Franks.
Circa 581, the Visigoth king Liuvigild overcame the Basques, seized Pamplona and founded in Vasconia the town of Victoriacum. Despite the legend citing Saint Fermin as the first bishop of Pamplona and his baptising of 40,000 pagan inhabitants in just three days, first reliable accounts of a bishop date from 589, when bishop Liliolus attended the Third Council of Toledo. After 684 and 693, a bishop called Opilano is mentioned again in 829, followed by Wiliesind and a certain Jimenez from 880 to 890. Even in the 10th century, important gaps are found in bishop succession, which is recorded unbroken only after 1005.
At the time of the Muslim invasion in 711, the Visigothic king Roderic was fighting the Basques in Pamplona and had to turn his attention to the new enemy coming from the south. By 714-16, the Muslims troops reached the Basque held Pamplona, with the town submitting apparently after a treaty was brokered between the inhabitants and the Arab military commanders. The position was then garrisoned by Berbers, who stationed on the outside of the actual fortress, and established the cemetery unearthed not long ago at the Castle Square ("Plaza del Castillo", see below). During the following years, the Basques south of the Pyrenees don't seem to have shown much resistance to the Moorish thrust, and Pamplona may even have flourished as a launching point and centre of assembly for their expeditions to Gascony. In 740, the wali (governor) Uqba ibn al-Hayyay imposed direct central Cordovan discipline on the city. However, in 755 the last governor of Al-Andalus, Yusuf al Fihri, detoured an expedition north to quash Basque unrest near Pamplona, resulting in the defeat of the Arab army.
From 755 until 781, Pamplona remained autonomous probably relying on regional alliances. Although sources are not clear, it seems apparent that in 778 the town was in hands of a Basque local or a Muslim rebel faction loyal to the Franks at the moment of Charlemagne's crossing of the Pyrenees to the south. However, on his way back from the failed expedition to Saragossa in August, the walls and probably the town was destroyed by Charlemagne ahead of the Frankish defeat in the famous Battle of Roncevaux, out of fear that the anti-Frankish party strong in the town may use the position against them. After Abd al-Rahman I's conquest, Pamplona and its hinterland remained on a state of shaky balance between Franks, regional Andalusian lords and central Cordovan rule, all of whom proved unable to permanently secure its rule over the Basque region. To a considerable extent that alternation reflected the internal struggles of the Basque warrior nobility.
After the Frankish defeat in Roncevaux (778), Pamplona switched again to Cordovan rule, after Abd-al-Rahman's expedition captured the stronghold in 781. A wali or governor was imposed, Mutarrif ibn-Musa (a Banu-Qasi) up to the 799 rebellion. This year, the Pamplonese—possibly led by a certain Velasko—stirred against their governor, but later the inhabitants provided some support for the Banu Qasi Fortun ibn-Musa's uprising. This regional revolt was shortly after suppressed by the Cordovan emir Hisham I and order re-established, but failed to retain grip on the town, since the Pamplonese returned to Frankish suzerainty in 806. A Muslim cemetery containing about 200 human remains mingled with Christian tombs was unearthed in 2003 at the Castle Square, bearing witness to an important Muslim presence in the city during this period, but further research was stopped by the destruction of this and other historic evidence as ordered by the city's mayor.
During this period Pamplona was not properly a town but just a kind of fortress. In 924 Muslim sources describe Pamplona as "not being especially gifted by nature", with its inhabitants being poor, not eating enough and dedicating to banditry. They are reported to speak Basque for the most part, which "makes them incomprehensible". On the 24 July, in this Cordovan military campaign, Pamplona's houses and buildings were destroyed and its celebrated church pulled down by the Muslim army, who found the position deserted and forsaken. The town's urban and human shape would only change after the Vikings' and Muslim raids came to an end. This led to the establishment of new cultures via Way of St James hailing from north of the Pyrenees, starting in 1083.
Three boroughs and one city
From the 11th century, reviving economic development allowed Pamplona to recover its urban life. The bishops of Pamplona recovered their ecclesiastical leading role; during the previous centuries isolated monasteries, especially Leyre, had actually held the religious authority. The pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela contributed a lot to revive the commercial and cultural exchanges with Christian Europe beyond the Pyrenees. In the 12th century, the city enlarged with two new separate burgos (independent boroughs): San Cernín (Saint Saturnin) and San Nicolás: the population of local Navarrese mainly confined to the original urban nucleus, the Navarrería, was swelled by Occitan merchants and artisans.
The boroughs showed very distinct features both socially and culturally, and were almost always engaged in quarrels among themselves. The most dramatic episode was the burning of the borough San Nicolás in 1258 and the destruction of the Navarrería by the other two boroughs and the massacre of its population in 1276. The site was abandoned for nearly fifty years. With regards to the outer defence walls of the city, the southern side was the weakest flank of the city, and the Navarrese king Louis I built a castle in the early 14th century in the site known today as Plaza del Castillo (Castle Square).
Eventually, King Charles III decreed the unification of the boroughs in a single city in 1423. The feuds between boroughs had been partly ignited by disputes over the use of the gulf dividing the three boroughs, so after Charles III's unification, the gulf was filled and on its site a common space laid out on the present-day city hall. The walls dividing the boroughs were demolished.
During the late 15th century, Pamplona bore witness to power struggles between the Beaumont and Agramont confederacies and external military interventions. Several times, the stronghold was taken over by different factions and foreign forces, like the ones sent by Ferdinand II of Aragon. Queen Catherine I was a minor and often absent from Pamplona, but eventually she married John III in 1494, an event celebrated with joy in the city. However, Navarre continued divided.
After the 1512 conquest and annexation of Navarre to Spain, Pamplona remained as capital of the semi-autonomous kingdom of Navarre, which preserved its own (reformed) institutions and laws. Pamplona became a Castilian-Spanish outpost at the foot of the western Pyrenees. After the Castilian conquest, king Ferdinand V ordered in 1513 the demolition and removal of the medieval castle and the city's monasteries, as well as the building of a new castle in a very close place. In 1530, with Navarre under Spanish military occupation, the Castilian viceroy was still expecting a "French invasion", and in fear of a possible revolt of the city dwellers, he requested an additional 1,000-strong force from what he called "healthy land", i.e. Castile, besides the 1,000 stationed already in Navarre.
The progress of artillery demanded a complete renewal of the fortified system. Starting in 1569, King Philip II built the fortifications at Pamplona, to designs by Giovan Giacomo Paleari and Vespasiano Gonzaga. The citadel in the south of the town is a pentagonal star fort. Phillip had the city bounded by walls that made it almost a regular pentagon. The modernization of the walls was intended mainly to keep locals in check and strengthen the outpost Pamplona had become on the border with independent Navarre, a close ally of France. The walls that exist today date from the late 16th to 18th centuries.
Seconds before the beginning of the San Fermín Festival. Town hall Square. Everybody has a red handkerchief above their head until a firework is exploded at 12 pm; putting it around their neck afterward.
During the eighteenth century, Pamplona was considerably beautified and its urban services improved. A continuous water supply was established and the streets were paved, among many other enhancements. Rich aristocrats and businessmen also built their mansions. In the nineteenth century this fortress-city played a key role in several wars in which Spain was involved.
During the Napoleonic Wars French troops occupied the city in 1808 and remained in it until 1813. During the Carlist Wars (1833–1839 and 1872–1876) Pamplona was each time controlled by the liberals, not just because the few liberals that lived in Navarre were mainly Pamplonese, but because of the governmental control over the fortified city. Although Carlist rebels easily ruled the countryside, the government army had no problem in dominating the walled capital of Navarre. Nevertheless, during the last Carlist war, modern artillery operated by Carlists from surrounding mountains showed that the old walls would not be enough in the face of a stronger enemy. Thus, the Government decided to build a fort on the top of mount San Cristóbal, just three kilometers (1.9 miles) north of Pamplona.
Due to its military role, the city could not grow outside its walled belt. Furthermore, building in the closest area to the walls was banned to avoid any advantage for a besieger - thus the city could only grow by increasing its housing density. Higher and narrower houses were built and courtyards gradually disappeared. During the nineteenth century road transportation improved, and the railway came in 1860. Nevertheless, industry in Pamplona as well as in Navarre as a whole was weak during the century of the Industrial Revolution. Basically, no industrial development was feasible in such a constrained fortress-city.
After a slight modification of the star fort allowed an expansion of just six blocks in 1888, the First World War demonstrated that the fortified system of Pamplona was already obsolete. In 1915, the Army allowed the destruction of the walls and abolished the building ban in the city's surroundings. The southern side of the walls was destroyed and the other three remained as they did not hinder urban growth. The star fort continued to serve as a military facility until 1964, but just as a garrison.
Industrialization and modernization
Demographic evolution (1900-2005)
Freed from its military function, Pamplona could lead the process of industrialization and modernization in which Navarre was involved during the 20th century, especially during its second half. The urban growth has been accompanied by the development of industry and services. Population growth has been the effect of an intense immigration process during the 1960s and 1970s: from the Navarrese countryside and from other less developed regions of Spain, mainly Castile and León and Andalusia. Since the 1990s the immigration is coming mainly from abroad.
Pamplona is listed as a city with one of the highest standards of living and quality of life in Spain. Its industry rate is higher than the national average, although it is threatened by delocalization. Crime statistics are lower than the national average but cost of living, especially housing, is considerably higher. Thanks to its small size and an acceptable public transport service, there are no major transport problems. Political life is affected by bitter confrontation between parties with opposing Basque and Spanish national views.
Like many other European cities, it is very easy to distinguish what is so called the "old city" and the new neighborhoods. The oldest part of the old city is Navarrería, which corresponds with the Roman city. During the 12th century, the boroughs of Saint Sernin (San Saturnino or San Cernin) and Saint Nicholas (San Nicolás) were established. Charles III decreed the unification of the three places under a single municipality in 1423.
Old city of Pamplona
The city did not expand until the late 19th century. In 1888, a modest modification of the star fort was allowed, but it just permitted the building of six blocks. It was called the I Ensanche (literally, "first widening"). The southern walls were destroyed in 1915 and the II Ensanche ("second widening") was planned. Its plan followed the grid pattern model designed by Ildefons Cerdà for Barcelona. Its blocks were built between the 20s and the 50s. The prevailing housing model is apartment buildings of five to eight floors.
After the Civil War, three new zones of Pamplona began to grow: Rochapea, Milagrosa, and Chantrea. Only the last one was a planned neighborhood, the other two being disorderly growths. In 1957, the municipality designed the first general ordination plan for the city, which established the guidelines for further urban development. According to this, during the 60s and 70s saw the creation of new neighborhoods like San Juan, Iturrama, San Jorge, Etxabakoitz, and Orbina.
Plaza del Castillo with Hotel La Perla visible (to the left of the tree)
The urban expansion of Pamplona exceeded the administrative limits of the city and involved municipalities like Barañáin, Burlada, Villava, Ansoain, Berriozar, Noain or Huarte in a larger metropolitan area. During the 1980s and 1990s, new neighborhoods were born: Azpilagaña, Mendebaldea, and Mendillorri. Rochapea was profoundly renewed. The urban development of those new neighborhoods is very similar to other Spanish provincial capitals that experienced a similar aggressive economic development during the sixties and seventies. The urbanization of Pamplona, being from anterior designs, is not constrained by the grid plan. The apartment buildings are taller: never less than five floors and many taller than ten. Industry, which previously coexisted with housing, was moved to industrial parks (the oldest and the only one within municipal limits of Pamplona is Landaben).
Pamplona is the main commercial and services centre of Navarre. Its area of influence is not beyond the province, except for the University of Navarre and its teaching hospital, which provide private educational and health services nationwide.
Several notable churches, most of its 16th- to 18th-century fortified system and other civil architecture buildings belong to the historic-artistic heritage of Pamplona.
The most important religious building is the fourteenth century GothicCathedral, with an outstanding cloister and a Neoclassicalfaçade. There are another two main Gothic churches in the old city: Saint Sernin and Saint Nicholas, both built during the thirteenth century. Two other Gothic churches were built during the sixteenth century: Saint Dominic and Saint Augustine. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century were built the Baroque chapels of Saint Fermin, in the church of Saint Lawrence, and of the Virgin of the Road (Virgen del Camino), in the church of Saint Sernin, the convents of the Augustinian Recollect nuns and the Carmelite friars, and the Saint Ignatius of Loyola basilica in the place where he was injured in the battle and during the subsequent convalescence he decided to be a priest. The most remarkable twentieth century religious buildings are probably the new diocesan seminary (1931) and the classical-revival style memorial church (1942) to the Navarrese dead in the Nationalist side of the Civil War and that is used today as temporary exhibitions room.
San Lorenzo Church
Military and civil architecture
From the prominent military past of Pamplona remain three of the four sides of the city walls and, with little modifications, the citadel or star fort. All the mediaeval structures were replaced and improved during 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in order to resist artillery sieges. Completely obsolete for modern warfare, they are used today as parks.
The oldest civil building today existing is a fourteenth-century house that was used as Cámara de Comptos (the court of auditors of the early modern autonomous kingdom of Navarre) from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. There are also several medieval bridges on the Arga: Santa Engracia, Miluce, Magdalena, and San Pedro. The medieval palace of Saint Peter, which was alternatively used by Navarrese kings and Pamplonese bishops, was used during the early modern age as the Viceroy's palace and later was the seat of the military governor of Navarre; from the time of the Civil War it was in ruins but was recently rebuilt to be used as the General Archive of Navarre.
Plaza del Castillo
San Saturnino Church
San Nicolás Church
The most outstanding Baroque civil architecture is from the eighteenth century: town hall, episcopal palace, Saint John the Baptist seminary, and the Rozalejo's, Ezpeleta's (today music school), Navarro-Tafalla's (today, the local office of PNV), and Guenduláin's (today, a hotel) mansions. The provincial government built its own Neoclassical palace, the so-called Palace of Navarre, during the nineteenth century.
Late nineteenth and early twentieth century Pamplonese architecture shows the tendencies that are fully developed in other more important Spanish cities: La Agrícola building (1912), several apartment buildings with some timid modernist ornamentation, etc. The most notable architect in twentieth century Pamplona was Víctor Eusa (1894–1979), whose designs were influenced by the European expressionism and other avant-garde movements.
Pamplona has many parks and green areas. The oldest is the Taconera park, whose early designs are from the seventeenth century. Taconera is today a romantic park, with wide pedestrian paths, parterres, and sculptures.
The Media Luna park was built as part of the II Ensanche and is intended to allow relaxing strolling and sightseeing over the northern part of the town. After its demilitarization, the citadel (Ciudadela) and its surrounding area (Vuelta del Castillo) shifted into a park area with large lawns and modern sculptures.
The most remarkable parks of the new neighborhoods include the Yamaguchi park, between Iturrama and Ermitagaña, which includes a little Japanese garden; the campus of the University of Navarre; the Parque del Mundo in Chantrea; and the Arga park.
Pamplona is also home to the headquarters of The International Federation of Basque Pelota (FIPV). Basque pelota is principally practiced in France, Spain, and North and South America, but also in other countries like Italy and Philippines.
Collins, Roger (1990). The Basques. Cambridge, Ma: Basil Blackwell. p. 76. ISBN 0-631-17565-2.
Collins, Roger (1990). p. 102.Missing or empty |title= (help)
Jurio, Jimeno (1995). Historia de Pamplona y de sus lenguas. Tafalla: Editorial Txalaparta. p. 35. ISBN 84-8136-017-1.
Jurio, Jimeno (1995). Historia de Pamplona y de sus lenguas. Editorial Txalaparta. p. 36. ISBN 84-8136-017-1.
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Jimeno Aranguren, Roldan; Lopez-Mugartza Iriarte, J.C. (Ed.) (2004). Vascuence y Romance: Ebro-Garona, Un Espacio de Comunicación. Pamplona: Gobierno de Navarra / Nafarroako Gobernua. p. 179. ISBN 84-235-2506-6.
Jurio, Jimeno (1995). Historia de Pamplona y de sus lenguas. Tafalla: Editorial Txalaparta. p. 64. ISBN 84-8136-017-1.
Jimeno Aranguren, Roldan; Lopez-Mugartza Iriarte, J.C. (Ed.) (2004). Vascuence y Romance: Ebro-Garona, Un Espacio de Comunicación. Pamplona: Gobierno de Navarra / Nafarroako Gobernua. p. 167. ISBN 84-235-2506-6.
Monreal, Gregorio; Jimeno, Roldan (2012). Conquista e Incorporación de Navarra a Castilla. Pamplona-Iruña: Pamiela. p. 71. ISBN 978-84-7681-736-0.
"200 años de la caída de la Ciudadela". Diario de Noticias. Retrieved 2008-02-17. Article in Spanish
"Pamplona, Bilbao and Gijón, the Spanish cities with the best quality of life". El Mundo (in Spanish). 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2008-04-14.