A mere ten minute walk from La Vuelta del Castillo Park, down Avenida Pio XII or Avenida de Bayona, is one of the most unique parks in the city. Designed in 1997 by two Japanese landscapers, the Yamaguchi Park symbolises the twinning of Pamplona with the Japanese city from which it takes its name, evangelised by the Navarrese missionary Saint Francis Xabier. This typical Japanese garden is a tribute to the four seasons and has 400 trees and more than 600 plants, including Japanese cherry trees, ginkgo bilobas, maples, oaks, giant redwoods and holly trees.
The Pamplona Planetarium, opened in 1993 to help popularise science and astronomy, stands in the park. Its projection dome has a diameter of 20 metres and is one of the largest in the world!
In 2017 the Planetarium promoted the construction of the Galaxy Garden in collaboration with the City Council. The only one of its kind in Europe, it is a scale replica of the Milky Way. Its more than 500 shrubs symbolise the galaxy’s millions of stars,nebulae, gas clouds and even the -supposed- supermassive black hole at its centre. Its diameter of 30 metres is equivalent to 100,000 light years: our solar system would fit
quite comfortably on just one of its tiny leaves!
For centuries the Milky Way guided pilgrims to Compostela -the field of the star-, but now the Way of Saint James takes us to the Galaxy Garden, before heading towards Pamplona’s university campuses.
The development of the city to the south has managed to combine urban areas with large parks and gardens on the banks of the Elorz and Sadar rivers. The area is also the site of the city’s two university campuses, which combine gardens open to the city with spaces given over to art.
The Campus of the University of Navarre was constructed in 1952 following the design of campuses in the English-speaking world. Its garden areas are home to more than 4,000 trees and shrubs of different species, such as magnolias, giant redwoods, maples, ginkgo bilobas, cedars and Lombard poplars. The most impressive and oldest building on the campus is the Central Building, which houses the chancellor’s offices.
The newest building is the University of Navarre Museum, which exhibits works by Oteiza, Kandinsky, Picasso, Tapies and Rothko.Rothko.
Designed by the Navarrese architect Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza, the Campus of the Public University is highly functional and green. Its central boulevard reproduces the dimensions of Pamplona’s Paseo Sarasate and is dominated by the avant-garde Library building, with its great vaulted roof 20 metres in diameter. The campus is home to more than 89 different species of trees from every corner of the world: acacias, magnolias, palm trees and Atlas cedars.
ROUTE OF THE PARKS AND GARDENS
The route starts in the Media Luna Park and continues as far as the Taconera Gardens, the Citadel and the Vuelta del Castillo Park, ending up in Yamaguchi Park and the Galaxy Gardens. The following trees can be seen in the Media Luna Park: :
Sign 19. The lake
In Japanese garden culture, a lake represents peacefulness in the later years of life. The still waters act as a mirror for the pagoda, bridge and plant life. Birds find shelter and food from the lake and its surroundings..
Sign 20. Prunus serrulata - Japanese cherry tree
The main character in Japanese gardening: the cherry tree. This variety here is noteworthy for its long flowering period – which begins discreetly in autumn and ends exuberantly in spring.
Sign 21. Taxodium distichum - Swamp cypress
Originally from the southeastern United States, this tree grows in flooded areas. Its aerial roots protrude from the ground in search of air. It is a conifer, although its leaves fall and offer a spectacular splash of colour in the autumn.
A prehistoric tree and an authentic living fossil, its leaves are fan-shaped and were used as currency in the past. It is appreciated for its beauty and its resistance to pollution..
Sign 23. GIANT TREES. Salix babylonica - Weeping willow and "Esther Ab Arata", the Asian queen
Asia is the continent where both Esther Ab Arata and the weeping willow come from. This beautiful tree from northern China adapts well to any moist areas and its weepy appearance is highly appreciated for creating gardens with charm near water.
Sign 24. Sequoiadendron giganteum - Giant sequoia
A tall tree reaching a height of between 50 and 80 metres, it has a conical shape and very dense and regular scale-like foliage. These are the biggest species in the plant kingdom, reaching a volume of 1,500 cubic metres of wood per tree.
Sign 25. Liriodendron tulipifera - American tulip tree.
A tall tree that can reach a height of 35 metres. It flowers in May. Its large, shiny flower resembles a tulip. The striking feature of its uniquely-shaped leaves is that they have four lobes and a truncated apex and in autumn their colour changes from green to golden. The tree is very popular with bees.
The birds that overfly the city
- The kestrel is the public enemy no. 1 of sparrows and other small birds. Its ability to prey on caged birds in balconies and windowsills – and devour them on the spot, is noteworthy.
- Late evening in May and in June you will frequently hear a high-pitched and constant sound, repeated every few seconds, in parks and tree-lined avenues. It is the call of the del scops owl, a small bird of prey which remains silent and still when somebody approachesit.
- The swift eats and sleeps whilst flying, tirelessly. Quite fond of cities, you will find it in Pamplona between May and August.
- Blackbirds love to hop on the grass and sing as the sun goes down, with extraordinarily fluty notes.
- Robins are squat birds, their reddish-orange breast being a giveaway.
- You will easily recognise serins in tree tops because of their lemon yellow colour.
Many nest boxes are scattered in the city’s parks - Taconera Gardens, Vuelta del Castillo Park, Yamaguchi and Arga river Park, to attract birds.Some are for kestrels, some for scops owls and some for small birds like sparrows.