A visit to Pamplona would be incomplete without a stroll through the many gardens dotted around the city. Pamplona has earned itself the title of the Spanish city with the most urban green spaces, with 20% of its surface area covered with tended public gardens and parks. These green and tree-filled areas are distributed across the entire urban section, creating a network of green spaces that can be easily accessed from any part of the city. There are 3,000,000 m2 of municipal areas, and 1,500,000 m2 of private and public green areas. This combined area of 4,500,000 m2 of green spaces is open to the public.
The diversity of species is also noteworthy, with 428 tree species and over 200 species of bushes and perennials. There are around 60,000 municipal trees, and in total there are over 140,000 green spaces across the city. This in turn generates pockets of biodiversity for other animal and plant species, distributed around the entire city.
Yet as well as being a benchmark for the environment and biodiversity in the city, Pamplona’s gardens are outstanding for their historical nature and their presence in the day to day lives of citizens.
- Arga river park
The Arga River Park, with its million square metres, constitutes one of the city’s most important green areas. It runs alongside the river, passing the most significant historical bridges: Magdalena, San Pedro (the oldest in Pamplona), Rochapea and Santa Engracia. The meanders wind in and out of the city, carving out a highly valued landscape for walkers, cycle-tourists, and even rowers.
The urban atmosphere inside the city walls contrasts with the recovered local flora and the country setting. Along the walk there are ash trees, willows, alders, limes and blackthorns, creating the perfect country setting just metres from the Navarran capital.
This walk is a good way of observing the city from the outside. It can be enjoyed on foot or by bike, covering the entire route or just parts of it. Its picnic spots are the ideal place to enjoy a day out in the countryside without straying too far from the city.
MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST:
This is one of Pamplona’s oldest industrial buildings. Up until 1848 its was used to mill grain, and then it became an iron smelting furnace, specialising almost exclusively in producing pieces for agricultural machinery. It was later used to produce hydroelectric power.
The facilities currently include the former mill, the dam, the late 19th century chimney, and a recently added structure, which holds the restaurant canteen, used today. The Municipal Canoeing School is also located here.
This is one of the most beautiful bridges in the city. Dating back to the 12th century, it has been declared a Property of Cultural Interest and a Historical Artistic Monument. The Magdalena Bridge is the gateway to the Santiago Way in Pamplona, which is why one of the ends features a cross with the image of the apostle to receive pilgrims.
San Pedro Bridge:
This is the oldest bridge in the city, with its origins in Roman times, though its current aspect is Medieval. It has three semi-circular spans, and next to it is a cross, made from the same stone as that found next to the Santa Engracia bridge.
This bridge, also called the Tanners Bridge, because traditional craftsmen used to hang hides there – has undergone different reformations over time, including enlargement to allow road traffic across. There is evidence showing that this bridge existed before the 18th century.
Santa Engracia Bridge:
This is one of the oldest bridges in Pamplona, as it dates back to before the 13th century. It has Gothic-style arches, and at one of the ends there is a cross that is exactly the same as the one on the San Pedro Bridge.
- Half moon - Tejería park
Bordering the city centre, in the Second Extension, and at one end of the city walls, is the Media Luna park, constituting one of the most beautiful and ancient parks in Pamplona. Its name comes from its design in the shape of a half-moon.
A bucolic location and with a clear Romanesque style, with pergolas, ponds, climbing plants, fountains, hedgerows, small sculptures, large trees, water jets and benches, this park offers spectacular views over the river Arga from its expansive and privileged viewpoint. It has a fishpond, a skating rink and many trees (up to 43 different species), including a beautiful giant sequoia. One of its many and varied gardens holds the monument to the Pamplona-born violinist, Pablo Sarasate, erected in 1959.
In the heart of this green space is a quaint café with a large outdoor terrace, which becomes particularly lively on long, warm summer evenings.
The Media Luna park was constructed in 1935 by Víctor Eúsa, undoubtedly one of the highest profile 20th century Navarran architects. Covering an area of 67,000 square metres, it is located at one of the ends of the ancient city walls, between the bulwark of San Bartolomé and Baja Navarra avenue.
- La taconera park
The Taconera Park, created in 1830, is the oldest and most beautiful park in the city.
It has various access points and is permanently open, because it is not a closed park and has no specific opening times. Of all the access points, the most majestic is via the San Nicolás gateway located in Calle del Bosquecillo. A Baroque recreation of the Arc de Triomphe, in the past it was one of the six entrances to the walled city, and until 1915 it was placed near the current San Ignacio church. Only the façade remains in tact. The remains of the former Taconera Gateway, demolished at the same time, are next to the track in the Antoniutti park.
Hidden amongst the trees in the Taconera Park is the figure of Mari Blanca. It was designed by Luis Paret to finish off a Pamplona-made fountain that was erected in the Plaza del Castillo. It dates back to the 18th century, and constitutes one of the most popular images in the city.
In the lower part of the gardens, the moats let visitors view the small zoo created between the walls, where deer, ducks, rabbits and peacocks roam freely. The balcony or viewpoint that opens out from Calle Navas de Tolosa is a favourite spot for local children.
The most important monument adorning the central walkway in the Taconera gardens is that of Julián Gayarre, erected in 1950 by Fructuoso Orduna and Víctor Eusa in honour of the Roncal-born tenor. The figure of Gayarre crowns a cylinder, sculpted with bas-relieves around a fountain.
- Citadel and the vuelta del castillo
THE CITY’S GREEN LUNG
The Citadel and the Vuelta del Castillo (the green belt which surrounds it) are the city’s principal green lung, and main urban benchmark. It is an area covering 280,000 squared metres, with trees and grass meadows that intertwine with a construction erected between 1571 and 1645 as part of the Pamplona defence. Its pavilions, moats, bulwarks, ravelins and gentle slopes are now places where the city’s inhabitants can relax or enjoy sport or culture.
VUELTA DEL CASTILLO
The Vuelta del Castillo was preserved for military reasons. In fact, it was the Citadel’s glacis – the gentle slopes leading into the moats and the walls – where construction was not permitted. Since the 17th century, it has been a favourite walking route for Pamplona locals. It is a vast, well-tended green area shared by walkers, runners and football players alike. It has benches, fountains and pathways, making for a very pleasant walk. There are two wind roses on the paths in the Vuelta del Castillo: one beside the Edificio Singular, at the crossroads between Avenida de Pío XII and Avenida del Ejercito, and the other at the entrance to the Citadel via the Socorro Gateway.
The inside of the Citadel is a pleasant and pedestrianized public park, with expansive grasslands criss-crossed with pathways, a central plaza with a fountain, benches, a small children’s play area, and around 30 different tree species.
It is home to the Hiriartea Contemporary Culture Centre. Today, the Mixed Pavilion, the furnace, the arms room and the polvorín are spaces designated for art exhibitions and for holding events.
- The Polvorín: Constructed in 1694, is the oldest construction on the premises.
- Arms room: Constructed in 1725, according to the reformation project proposed by the prestigious Verboom for the Citadel and the City Walls. It has four floors and was used to store artillery.
- Furnace: It was the fortification’s former bread oven.
- Mixed Pavilion: Comprising two enormous halls, it was reformed in 1720 and on later dates.
- The moats: The small maze of moats can be accessed from the Avenida del Ejército or via various points around the Vuelta del Castillo. A central pathway covers the entire perimeter from the Avenida del Ejército to Yanguas y Miranda. The pathway goes past ponds and games courts.
- Yamaguchi and the planetarium
The solid relationship between twinned cities Pamplona and Yamaguchi led to the construction of this oriental park, designed with the participation of Japanese landscape gardeners. Constructed in 1997, it is a green area covering 85,000 square metres, with ornamental elements found in Japanese culture: a large geyser, a stilt house, a pond with a bridge and waterfall, and various Japanese shrub and tree species. It is a homage to the four seasons. The Pamplona Planetarium is located here, next to which is the Momento Espiritual sculpture, by Jooefe Orte.
The Pamplona Planetarium, opened in 1993, has the world’s largest dome, spanning 20 metres in diameter. It has become a must-see cultural, scientific, touristic and education benchmark, receiving over 100,000 visitors each year.
The building, with its windowless redbrick cylindrical tower, is based on a funeral pantheon from the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the Treasury of Atreus of Mycenae and the Moroccan tombs of Meknes. The Tornamira projection room is named after the 16th century Tudela-born astronomer, and is the most impressive part of the building. Its dome has capacity for 220 spectators.
The Planetarium also has two exhibition rooms, which include some of Pamplona’s most important displays. On the first floor is the striking stained-glass window created by Alberto Chueca, showing the signs of the zodiac.
- University campuses
UNIVERSITY OF NAVARRA
The University of Navarre, the corporative work of the Opus Dei, was founded in 1952, and each year brings together 15,000 students from all across Spain with its offer of almost 30 specialities. It has earned great prestige amongst the academic community in Spain thanks to its academic and research work. As well as its fame as an education centre, one of its main attractions is its magnificent campus, spanning over almost a million squared metres leading into the city.
The University of Navarre is split into faculties. The campus is also home to libraries, halls of residence and the university canteen. It holds a total of 24 buildings. The Central Building, constructed in 1960, is the oldest and most emblematic of the campus. It is the headquarters of the Rectorate, the Main Hall and the general services. Classic and solemn in style, its interior glazed courtyard and main floor are particularly outstanding.
In terms of the campus, its 400,000 square metres of lawns, 43,000 trees and shrubs and 37 permanent and migratory bird species, make it one of the city’s main green areas. Its design is reminiscent of American universities, and is crossed from east to west by the river Sadar. Its particularly noteworthy flora includes examples of sequoia, maple, mountain ash, lime, Lombardy poplar, Judas tree, fir, Eastern white cedar, cedar, willow, pampas grass and Gingko biloba.
The Public University of Navarre was created in 1987. Since then, its has grown exponentially. Its approximately 10,000 students live on a campus to the south of the city, designed by the Navarran architect, Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza.
The Public University campus covers around 300,000 square metres. Sáenz de Oiza wanted to imitate the structure of the Paseo Sarasate, even its dimensions: the library represents the Palace of Navarre and the rectorate is the former Palace of Justice. It has six departmental buildings, a lecture room, cafeteria, canteens, headquarters for administration and management and the rectorate.
The most impressive building on the campus is the library. It has 746 reading posts and 225,000 volumes. Its vault filters the light that illuminates the enormous internal reading and consultation hall. The other buildings are located to the sides. The campus gardens include 100 tree species from all the continents. Leaving the lecture room towards the rectorate, are the Gardens of America (sequoia, acacia, magnolias), Africa (palm trees, Libyan fir, Atlas cedar) and Oceania (eucalyptus), between the three departmental buildings. Directly opposite, on the other side of the library, are Asian trees (pagoda tree, Turkish hazel), and European species. There is also a representation of the flora from the different climatic areas of Navarre.
The campus is also a small outdoor sculpture museum. It holds pieces by contemporary Navarran sculptors. Apart from three interior works, the rest decorate the gardens and walkways between the buildings, and can be admired by all visitors.
- Route of the gardens
The watercourse of the Arga, the largest of the three rivers that flow through Pamplona, creates the biggest natural area in the city. Its almost 12 kilometres flow past mills, allotments and parks in various neighbourhoods. It enters Pamplona at the Magdalena Bridge, the Arantzadi park, the San Pedro bridge, the Park of Runa and Trinitarians, and continues on under the Santa Engracia bridge. Some of its stretches join other routes such as the Santiago Way.
THE GARDENS OF THE BELLE EPOQUE. Next to the Fortifications Information Centre is the Romanesque-style Media Luna park, offering excellent views over the river Arga. A pleasant walk along the walls takes us through the New Gateway to the Taconera Gardens – the oldest and for many the most beautiful in the city – outstanding for its impressive biodiversity. Nestled within the city walls, it is a French-style garden, dotted with fountains and statues. Created in 1850, it holds the bulwarks of Gonzaga and Taconera, and the ravelin of San Roque. Deer, ducks, peacocks and other farmyard birds can be seen in its moats, living in semi-freedom. Nearby is the Antoniutti park, where visitors can enjoy inline and roller-skating.
CITADEL AND THE VUELTA DEL CASTILLO. Together with the defensive construction, the Vuelta del Castillo park was created in the 16th-17th century, providing a lawned plain in the heart of Pamplona. The ensemble has 280,000 square metres of lawns, and is the perfect setting for enjoying sport or taking a stroll. The Citadel’s fortified structures give this immense garden its unique character, and set the scene for the fireworks display celebrated during the San Fermín festivities. The Hiriartea Contemporary Culture Centre is located here.
THE SANTIAGO WAY OR THE WAY OF THE STARS. The Santiago Way takes us through the University of Navarre Campus gardens, which are home to a fabulous museum. Very near to the hospitals is the Japanese-style Yamaguchi Park, also home to the Pamplona Planetarium and the Galaxy Garden.