Pamplona boasts an important architectural heritage, as would be expected of a city that was formerly the capital of a kingdom. The cathedral and fortified churches stand impressively as a reminder of their medieval past, while the ramparts and Citadel, built in the Renaissance period, show the significance of Pamplona as a stronghold from the 16th century onwards. The Way of St James clearly left its mark on the layout of the city and, today, there are more pilgrims than ever. And, in every little part of the city, it's possible to feel the excitement that spreads through the streets on the 6th July each year, with the start of the San Fermin fiestas. Pamplona is all this, and much, much more.
Cathedral of Santa María la Real: Constructed during the 14th and 15th centuries over a former Romanesque church. Its Neoclassical façade (the masterpiece of Ventura Rodríguez) conceals a magnificent Gothic edifice, whose central nave reaches a height of 26.8 metres. The building is extremely sober in appearance and the light penetrates through the large pointed windows. Some of the windows have stained glass dating back to the 16th century, while others are more contemporary. The statue of St. Mary (Santa María) presiding over the temple, is a silver-plated Romanesque carving. The central nave holds the tomb of Carlos III the Noble and his spouse, Leonor de Trastámara, a sober example of 15th century Gothic sculpture. The reredos of St Tomás or of Caparroso is of particular value and interest. The cloisters are the most impressive feature of the cathedral and one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the world, with trefoil arches, mullions, vaulting and doorways decorated with decorated with highly varied and exquisitely detailed sculptures. The Gothic kitchen of the clergy and the refectory, in the English Gothic style, housing a valuable collection of western sacred art, complete the cathedral buildings.
Church of San Saturnino or San Cernin: The church of San Saturnino or San Cernin was the religious centre of the former borough and played a key military and defensive role for the inhabitants of the area. The church is a robust, Gothic building, dating back to the 13th to 15th centuries, with an arched atrium. It has two defensive towers, one of which is crowned by a weathervane in the shape of a cockerel. Opposite the atrium is the “pocico” (little well) where, according to tradition, Bishop Saturnino (Cernin), the patron saint of Pamplona, baptised the first Christians of Pamplona, including St Fermin.
Church of San Nicolás: The church of St. Nicholas was the religious centre of the medieval borough of the same name and performed an important military and defensive role for the inhabitants of the area. The 12th century church/fortress dates back to the transition period between Romanesque and Gothic. In its interior, the vault and apse are Gothic It was restored in 1924. Its interior houses a huge baroque organ dating back to 1769 which is the finest in the city. The church is surrounded by porches built in 1888.
Church of San Lorenzo: This church has much sentimental value due to the fact that it houses the chapel of San Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona. The present façade dates back to 1901 and was designed by Florencio Ansoleaga to replace the former Baroque façade. The interior has a floor plan in the shape of a Greek cross within a square. Particular mention should be made of the geometric interplay of its domes and the lantern crowning the cupola.
Church of Santo Domingo: The church was built in the 16th century, although its baroque façade dates back to the 18th century. It holds some beautiful Baroque and Renaissance altarpieces, paintings of interest, as well as a magnificent 17th century organ.
Church of San Agustín: The present-day church was erected in the 16th century.
Basílica of the Agustinas Recoletas: This basilica, an example of court architecture, was constructed in 1624.
Basilica of San Fermín de Aldapa: Although the current structure of this church dates back to 1701, it already existed in medieval times.
The Archbishop's Palace: Located in the Santa María la Real square, it was constructed in the 18th century as the seat of the bishops of Pamplona. This is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Pamplona. Featuring an ashlar plinth, exposed brick and crowned by a gallery of arches. Today it is the administrative headquarters of all the episcopal activity, Diocesan Archive, and the home of the archbishop.
Royal Palace and General Archive of Navarra: In street 2 de mayo, in an exceptional setting in the borough of La Navarrería, stands the former Palace of the Kings of Navarra, dating back to the 12th century. The Palace is also known by other names: San Pedro, Viceroy, or Captaincy, King Sancho VI the Wise ordered this palace to be erected around 1190. In 2003, Rafael Moneo was responsible for the refurbishment of the building, to become the headquarters of the Royal and General Archive of Navarra.
Condestable Palace and Sarasate Museum: This palatial house is an example of urban stately architecture in Pamplona. It was constructed between 1550 and 1560 by Luis de Beaumont, the fourth Count of Lerín and "Condestable" (marshal) of Navarra. The palace was the episcopal see for 150 years and the temporary city hall for a further eight, since 1752. Today it is the property of the City Council of Pamplona and, following refurbishment, it was opened to the public in 2008. It has been an Asset of Cultural Interest since 1997. On the first floor, the Sarasate Museum is open to visitors, housing a range of exhibits relating to the life and work of the great violinist Pablo Sarasate. Among the most important works exhibited at the museum, particular mention should be made of the portrait of the musician painted in 1894 by José Llaneces, the bronze bust by Benlliure, and two violins and a piano used by the Navarra-born musician.
Palace of Navarra: Built in the mid-19th century, this is the headquarters of the Presidency of the Government of Navarra and of a large number of administrative departments.
BALUARTE - Palace of Congresses and Auditorium of Navarra: It is located in the centre of Pamplona. This building, with its dark grey granite façade, has become an important reference point for the cultural and congress-related activities taking place in Navarra.
Ezpeleta palace: This is the best example of stately Baroque architecture in the city, with its pilasters and lintel featuring the coat of arms.
Palace of the Goyeneche family: Built in the 18th century, this palace is an exception in civil Baroque architecture due to its cubic design with three façades.
Palace of the Counts of Guenduláin: This 18th noble house has a harsh, severe design. It is located in the Plaza del Consejo, a square comprising Baroque façades and a fountain, the Fuente de Neptuno.
Palace of the Navarro-Tafalla family: Dating back to the second half of the 18th century, this is a good example of stately Baroque architecture. Of particular note are its majestic eaves.
Palace of Redín and Cruzat: This building is a large old Renaissance house that was refurbished in the 17th century, leading to the inclusion of Baroque features. It still retains its coat of arms.
Palace of the Marqués de Rozalejo: The façade is Baroque in design and made from high quality stone. The palace has three storeys.
- City walls and fortifications
Portal Nuevo (New Gateway): The opening of the city walls was made from 1571 onwards, by order of Felipe II, and the gateway was then reconstructed in 1950 by Victor Eusa. One of the two twin towers surrounding the gateway arch features the imperial coat of arms of Carlos V.
Ciudadela (Citadel) A walled fort erected between 1571 and 1645 by order of Felipe II, based on the model of the fort of Antwerp: a regular pentagon with five bastions in its corners. It is considered to be the best example of military architecture from the Spanish Renaissance. The Renaissance sobriety of the Citadel is evident in the main gate, where a plaque commemorates the start of the work. In 1808 the Citadel was taken by the French troops and, in 1888, part of its bastions were demolished in order to extend the city. The Citadel is the city's green belt and its moats, bastions and pavilions are used for leisure and sports activities and for exhibitions and other cultural events.
Portal de Francia (Gateway of France): Of the six original gateways in the ramparts, this is the only one that is still in place and which is just as it was built in 1553. In the 18th century, a second gate was added which still maintains its drawbridge and chain system.
Small fort of San Bartolomé: Erected during the 18th century, this is the best starting point for a stroll along the city walls. It houses the Fortification Interpretation Centre.
Museum of Navarra: This is the most valuable museum in Pamplona, housed in the former Hospital of Our Lady of Mercy, whose façade is still conserved. The museum holds archaeological and artistic collections relating to the history of Navarra. Of particular note are the Romanesque cloister capitals of the cathedral of Pamplona and the exceptional Hispano-arabic ivory casket from the monastery of Leyre. There are also some important mosaics from Roman times. With regard to paintings, the museum's masterpiece, namely the Marqués de San Adrián, signed by Goya, is well worth a visit.
Museum of the University of Navarra: This museum, designed by Rafael Moneo, houses a collection of contemporary art, bequeathed by María Josefa Huarte, and a photographic collection with works by José Ortiz Echagüe, Pere Català Pic and Robert Capa, among others.
Miguel Echauri Foundation: An extensive and select collection of works by the Navarra-born painter Miguel Echauri (Pamplona 1927) exhibited in a seventeenth century stately building, accompanied by numerous works of art and ornaments. There are one-hour guided tours to visit the exhibition.
Monument to the Bull Running: The work of the sculptor Rafael Huerta, freezing a moment in the running of the bulls.
Monument to the Fueros: This monument was erected through public donations, to commemorate the defence of the charter of Navarra. and the construction work finished in 1903. It was created by architect Manuel Martínez de Ubago. The work was completed in 1903. Each of the five sides of the monument depicts one of the five merindades (administrative and legal districts formerly governed by the Merino or Royal official) of the Kingdom of Navarre: Pamplona, Tudela, Estella, Olite and Sangüesa. Underneath the huge coats of arms and around the entire monument perimeter are 20 heraldic coats of arms representing the cities, towns and villages of Navarre and five plaques with inscriptions referring to the Fueros (Charter). On the corners are five allegorical figures in marble which represent Justice, History, Self-Government, Peace and Work. At the top of the monument stands a bronze female figure which allegorically represents Navarre. In her right hand she carries a section of the chains of the coat of arms of the kingdom of Navarra, and in the left a scroll bearing the words ‘Ley Foral’ (Charter Law of Navarra).
- Other points of interest
Frontón Labrit: An indoor Jai-alai court in which one of the most deep-rooted sports in Navarra is practised: Basque pelota (ball).
City Hall: It was decided to position the City Hall at the place where the three former boroughs of Pamplona (Navarrería, San Saturnino and San Nicolás) came together. These boroughs were united when King Carlos III, the Noble, passed what is known as the “Privilege of the Union” in 1423. Its façade is a combination of late baroque and the Neoclassical style (18th century), although the rest of the building dates back to the 20th century. The rocket marking the start of the San Fermin fiestas is fired from the main balcony, and this is also the place where the famous “Pobre de mi” (“Poor me”) San Fermin closing ceremony is held.
Cámara de Comptos (Court of Auditors): Located in Calle Ansoleaga street, this was a former noble house before becoming the headquarters of the Court of Auditors of the Kingdom of Navarre between 1524 and 1836. Although it disappeared in 1836, it was re-established in 1980 as the regional controlling body for auditing the public accounts. This medieval building, dating back to the 13th century, is regarded as the only example of civil Gothic architecture in Pamplona. On the building exterior, particular mention should be made of the pointed arch of the main entrance, the small pointed windows and the royal coat of arms of Spain, which was added in the mid-18th century. The building houses coins of the different monarchs of Navarre as well as documents on financial queries, signed by the Kings. A small passageway with a pointed barrel vaulting leads to a beautiful garden with a well in the centre.
Plaza del Castillo square: This square can be considered to be the heart of the city, its nerve centre. It has been a key point throughout the history of Pamplona. It takes its name from the castle that used to stand on the present-day Bajada de Javier street. From 1405 onwards it was the venue for celebrations and jousting tournaments of the monarchs of Navarra or during the city’s saints day festivities. Moreover, from 1385 to 1844 (the year when a permanent bull ring was built) bullfights were held in the square.
Plaza de Toros (Bull Ring): Visit all the outbuildings of the Bull Ring and get an insight into the life of the bull, the Bull Running and bullfights through recordings, models and information panels.
Parliament: Also known as the former ‘Audiencia’ (Law Courts) or former Palace of Justice, it was built in 1892 to complete the urban development of the Paseo Sarasate walk, opposite the Palace of Navarre. Since the late 19th century it has been the headquarters of all the higher courts of justice in Navarre, although it now houses the Parliament of Navarre.
Seminary of San Juan and Municipal Archive: The building has an ashlar base. The façade features the typical Baroque decoration of the time and a statue of San Juan (St John), who is the patron saint of the seminary.