Pamplona has a charm that is difficult to forget. It is a simple city that is both ancient and modern. With barely 196,000 inhabitants, it boasts an excellent life style with no bottlenecks, smoke and with good health care services. The new quarters are really attractive with all the facilities close by, but the nucleus of social and commercial life is set in the beautiful old part of the city.
Its origin dates back to the years 75-74 before Christ when the Roman general Pompeyo camped in this area, which was already a settlement of indigenous Basques, and founded the Roman city of Pompaelo.
The Irati Forest has always been linked to the world of legends. It is not surprising. In this beautiful spot, where the silence shares its space with indecipherable sounds, it is easy to imagine you can see the mythical Basajaun, a tall being with long hair, leaning on a stick. If you should find him on your path, you should neither run away nor anger him. If you do as he tells you, he will be your harmless guide.
The Irati Forest is the greatest forest in Navarre and has the second largest concentration of beeches in Europe. It is located in a depression furrowed by the river Irati and its tributaries, with a wooded area of 12,400 hectares. Of these, 6,250 are on the Irati hill and 1,800 on the Cuestión hill.
It is mainly made up of beeches and firs, autochthonous species. In autumn it is fascinating to observe the unlikely colours created by Nature itself. For a long time the Irati Forest was not touched. However, in the 13C it was the subject of bitter disputes between France and Spain. The wars meant that its wood was desired to build the fleets of ships and its fir trees provided the best masts. In 1856, the Treaty of Limits conceded the territory to Spain and also during that century the government was granted the right to cut trees gratuitously for the Armada. During the 20C it was exploited even more.
But, even after all this, there is still a small parcel of virgin woods in the Hill Monte La Cuestión. 20 hectares of unchanged wood called the Reserve of Lizardoya or the Parque. The firs reach heights of 40 meters and the trunks are over a meter in diameter. Leafy tree tops occasionally block out the sky. A real delight. To the north, the Irabia reservoir is of extraordinary beauty. You can go on foot or by bike around the 9 kilometres of this reservoir. Also in Irati there are magnificent oak woods, such as those of Tristuibartea and Aritztoki.
Without going off the forest track, you can feel the life in the forest: flinches, robins, wild boars, foxes. If you are silent, you may even discover roes and deers.
Leaving Estella take the NA 120 road to San Sebastian via Etxarri-Aranaz and, at Abárzuza, take a road which, 4 kilometres along, takes you to the Monastery of Irantzu.
The monastery lies in the middle of a beautiful gorge carved by the river, although it is Benedictine in origin, in the 12C it became important with the Cistercians. Today you can admire its church with three naves and ribbed vaults, the gothic cloisters, the chapter house and kitchen.
On the return journey, just after passing Abárzuza, take a small unsigned road on the right which will leave you in 10 kilometres on the road to Olazagutía. Be careful to take the turning to Baquedano, where at the top of the village you should take a track which after half a kilometre will leave you in an open field. There you can go on foot along an incredible track, lasting 45 minutes, to the source of the river Urederra: cascades and spectacular pot holes, rocky slopes and woods with a mixture of trees (beeches, ashes, limes, maples, hazlenuts and holly oaks) surround the water that the limestone karst of Urbasa absorbed and now frees. The water is striking not just for its beauty (Urederra means precious water in the Basque language) but also because it is ice cold!
The Urbasa Nature Park s a protected area offering an idyllic landscape, with leafy beech woods and extensivemeadowlands. This sierra offers visitors some spectacular spots to visit, such as the Source of the Urederra river, the Monastery of Irantzu and the Balcón de Pilatos viewpoint.
What's more it's the perfect place for hill walking, bike trails, horse riding trails and caving…
At Foz de Lumbier or at Arbaiun, one feels, defenseless, the force of nature. We hit the power of water and erosion, which for millions of years, managed to dig gorges in the mountains. They are inaccessible places with vertical walls, deep channels, rocky areas cracked and caves, shelter of many animals, especially birds. Vulture vultures, bearded vultures, hawks, kites predominate. No wonder that the Foz de Arbaiun was declared a Special Bird Protection Zone.
We leave Pamplona towards Zaragoza-Madrid and take the detour to Jaca-Huesca on the N240. We leave behind the port of Loiti and turn left onto the N150 which, in three kilometers, will leave us at the diversion of the Foz de Lumbier.
We await a gorge of just over a kilometer, 40 hectares of Nature Reserve and a 130 meter slope carved by water on hard limestone rocks. At the beginning and at the end, the step is narrow, although in its interior the amplitude grows. The impenetrable place, with the exception of the brave almadieros, saw the railroad "El Irati" through the tunnels through the tunnels. Now, the old train box makes possible a trail in Foz. In it, we find a half-destroyed bridge of the sixteenth century that, according to legend, was built by the devil.
To visit Arbaiun, we leave to the road of Lumbier, the N178, and already in Domeño we go to Usún. From the bridge of Usun, there is a very narrow 3-kilometer path carved into the rock that was a water channel to Lumbier.
Arbaiun is a Natural Reserve of 1,164 hectares. The river Salazar travels 6 kilometers of vertigo, by a canyon of 385 meters of depth and 550 of average separation between its walls. It has a curious structure: radically vertical in its upper part with steep walls of hard calcareous rock and the lower part, more smoothed, of sandy limestone rock, less resistant and permeable, that favors the wear.
It has an enormous diversity of vegetation, although the oaks and oaks predominate, beech, carrascales, quejigales and boj.
If Navarre is a land of contrasts, the Bardenas are the most far reaching contrast of all. A desert right in the middle of the northern peninsular, a small part of the Sahara changed by erosion, which brings to mind scenes of wild west gunmen fighting bandits.
The Bardenas, a historic territory and cattle track, is sure to make an impact on you.It is greatly affected by erosion with changing hills, hillocks and gullies, accentuated still more by the north winds in winter winter, the torrential rains and the hot summers.
The Bardenas, crossed by dusty tracks should be accessed with a good map or you should be accompanied by someone who knows the area well.
The Bardenas can be differentiated into four very evocative zones. Overall, there are 415 square kilometres of spectacular scenery between the rivers Aragon and Ebro.
In the centre, the White Bardenas is so called due to the amount of salt and gypsum to be found there. In the South you will find the Black Bardenas, similar to the Monegros of Aragon, made up of red clay and limestone. In the North there is the Meseta of El Plano and the reservoir of El Ferial, which holds many different species of water birds. In the East you will come to the Green Bardenas, a steppe area which has recently been recovered as irrigated land. If you would like a good viewpoint, you can chose between the Virgen del Yugo, the Alto de Aguilares, the Paso and the Sanctuary at Sancho Abarca.
This area was primarily used for pastureland for the herds coming from Roncal, Salazar or nearby towns which, year after year, started out on an obligatory seasonal migration to new pastures in this magical place. There is evidence of this in the form of tracks, small pens and small pools. But the Bardenas was not just used for animals. At some time in the past it did have several castles, although today only a few ruins remain such as those of the Castle of Peñaflor.
A word of advice: avoid the Bardenas in summer. Temperature rise to over 37ºC. Neither is it advisable to go there during rainy periods, since the mud can cause serious problems.
Caves of Urdax or Ikaburu
Although the caves of Zugaramurdi are more famous due to their connection with witchcraft, those of Urdax are even more spectacular and beautiful.
Located almost on the border with France, Urdax is a pretty cattle village, and is on the Way of St James. This was how it originated. Since 1221 the town was under the powerful control of the monastery of San Salvador of Urdaz, a former pilgrim hospital until 1789.
Of this monastery, burned and looted in the War of Convention and abandoned in 1839, we can see its impressive church. Other parts, such as the cloisters were later made into houses. The rest of the quarters are 16 and 17C.
On the road to Zugarramurdi, next to the country house of Matxingonea, you will find the caves of Ikaburu. Here, they say, the lamias lived, a being which was half woman and half fish. There are 350 metres of grotto, with various smaller cavities all with the sensation produced when you observe how the stalactites and stalagmites, grey in colour due to the limestone and polished by the magnesium, develop and die.
Incredible rooms fork off, retaining the sound of a little river, the Urtxuma. This cave has been fitted out for tourism with good lighting and stairs.
Moreover, Urdax has two prehistoric sites, the cave of Alkerdi and that of Berroberría. You can also see the country house of Axular, which gave its name to Pedro de Aguerre, a great classic Basque writer. A legend relates that the devil gave him classes in black magic in exchange for his soul. But Pedro Axular changed his mind when the moment came to “pay” and fled. Satan pursued him, but could only catch his shadow. For this reason, Axular was known as the “man who lost his shadow”. There are many other legendary tales of sorcerers or itxikos, fruit of the villagers’ imagination, that fly over the scenery surrounding Urdax.
Moreover, at Urdazubi-Urdax, you can enjoy an excellent cuisine: tasty mushrooms, green beans, leeks, chicory as well as succulent beef, lamb and, once you get to the sweet course, home-made junket and cottage cheese made from goat’s milk.
Caves of Zugarramurdi
Zurragamurdi began as a farm for the Monastery of San Salvador de Urdax. It is located in an area of Navarre with deep-rooted pre-Christian customs, a breeding ground for witch-craft, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries. Historically, we should go back to the Auto-da-fé of 1610 in which 31 inhabitants of the Baztán valley, Urdax and Zugarramurdi were accused of witchcraft and taken to Logroño.
The Holy Inquisition charged them with participating in black masses and orgies, being in possession of the devil, committing acts of vampirism and black magic, giving curses and provoking storms.
Some confessed and were saved. Thirteen died in the cruel prisons of that time and six were burned alive and a further five died at the stake before thirty thousand spectators. The grottoes where these witches’ Sabbaths were supposedly held are located 400 metres from Zugaramurdi next to the Berroskoberro or Akelarre meadow. They are accessed by a cavity excavated by the channel of Hell or Infernuko erreka. The water goes 120 metres along the tunnel which reaches heights of 12 metres, interrupted by two galleries of an even greater height. One is called Sorgin-leze, the witches’ cave. So the story goes, those who wanted to meet Lucifer, went either on broomsticks or converted into animals. They gave themselves up in a ceremony to worship the devil, who presented himself in the form of a ram or human being. After a ritual, where they ate the dead, there were wild orgies. Amongst so much magic and legends, probably many malicious neighbours took advantage of this to blame people from the village for any misfortunes. After being tortured, they would plead guilty. Probably these meetings would be no more than the desire to break the monotony of life and enjoy the forbidden, with nothing to do with devilish acts.
On the 18th August, during the village festivals in honour of the patron saint, there is a sumptuous feast in the so called Cueva Grande or big cave. Over a fire, roast mutton or ziriko-jatea is cooked on skewers. This is accompanied by a piperrada or cooked peppers and tomatoes, and soup. It is a traditional act that gathers together many of the inhabitants of the area as well as those from the neighbouring country.
The Señorío de Bértiz occupies 2,000 hectares that can be enjoyed right down to the last centimetre: its spectacular botanical garden, the palace buildings and the wild woods surrounding this magnificent place make it a beautiful place of vital importance to Navarre.
Today it is a Nature Reserve, but in times of old it was the territory granted to the nobles of the valley in compensation for maintaining the neutrality of Navarre in the face of France and Castile. Pedro Ciga y Mayo was the last owner. He acquired it in 1889 for 650,000 pesetas of that time in gold. This wealthy lawyer had a passion for nature and he managed to create a botanical garden with more than 120 species from all the different continents.
On his death in 1949, Pedro Ciga donated Bértiz to the Navarre Government with just one condition: they must preserve the estate without altering its characteristics. Its carefully looked after gardens and arbours enable us to pass through many different countries, botanically speaking. There are more than 120 species, all carefully signed, for the visitor to see, all located in a dream-like area crossed with bridges, fountains, pergolas, paths and ponds. Some of these bushes and trees were brought by Pedro Ciga during his innumerable voyages. We would highlight an exotic Ginkgo with fan-shaped leaves, a palm tree from Java and a surprising jungle of bamboos. If this weren’t enough, the Señorío has also a Nature Interpretation Centre located in the country house of Tenientetxea. A modernist style chapel completes the ensemble of the Señorío.
And there is still the hills. On foot, by bicycle or on horseback, you can take the path leading from the garden and become immersed in vegetation that overcomes you with its wild beauty. It is an impenetrable wood of beeches, oaks and chestnuts, crossed by an 11 kilometre path which terminates in the palace of Aitzkolegi, a real whim that Pedro Ciga gave his wife and which offers an impressive view. This wood is home to many different animal species, some in extinction. We would draw your attention to the 50 species of birds located at Bértiz. Enjoy yourself!
Our cuisine is unquestionably one of the greatest attractions of Pamplona and Navarre in general, enticing many thousands of people to visit our Autonomous Community. With dishes based on traditional recipes, handed down from our ancestors and fine quality fresh ingredients. In Navarre, eating is a social event…
The delicious produce from our market gardens, particularly those of La Ribera in southern Navarre, are famous throughout Spain and abroad: artichokes, piquillo red peppers, cardoon, asparagus, fresh white haricot beans … As well as flavoursome Navarre-raised meat such as veal and T-bone steaks. Added to this is a tasty “Ajoarriero” (flaked salt cod in tomato and pepper sauce) and some of our most spectacular desserts: Roncal valley cheese; junket; custard fritters and cream horns. Without forgetting our typical red, rosé and white wines, which are all included in our Designations of Origin.
In short, a cuisine which blends the traditional flavours and methods with nouvelle cuisine, taken to the highest level of the culinary scene by famous chefs and cooks from Navarre.
|GRAN HOTEL LA PERLA||La Cocina de Álex Múgica||Plaza del Castillo, 1 - 31001 Pamplona||948 510125|
|ABBA REINO DE NAVARRA||El Parque||c/ Acella, 1, 31008 Pamplona||948 177575|
|AC CIUDAD DE PAMPLONA||Ciudad de Pamplona Restaurant||c/ Iturrama, 21||948 266011|
|AC ZIZUR MAYOR||Zizur Mayor Restaurant||c/ Etxesakan, 3 - 31180 Zizur Mayor||948 287119|
|MUGA DE BELOSO ALMA PAMPLONA||Alma Pamplona||c/ Beloso Bajo, 11 - 31006 Pamplona||948 293380|
|ANDIA||Andra Mari||c/ Ipertegui s/n - 31160 Orkoien||948 325075|
|CASTILLO DE GORRAIZ HOTEL GOLF & SPA||Castillo de Gorraiz||Avda. de Egüés 78 - 31620 Gorraiz||948 337330|
|LUXE TRES REYES||Tres reinas||Jardines de la Taconera s/n - 31001 Pamplona||948 226600|
|MAISONNAVE||Ansoleaga 33||c/ Florencio de Ansoleaga - 31001 Pamplona||948 044860|
|PALACIO GUENDULAIN||El Restaurante del Palacio||c/ Zapatería 53 - 31001 Pamplona||948 225522|
|PAMPLONA CATEDRAL||La Capilla||c/ Dos de Mayo 4 - 31001 Pamplona||948 226688|
|ALBRET||Restaurante-snack Albret||c/ Ermitagaña, 3 - 31008 Pamplona||948 172233|
|AVENIDA||Koku (restaurante japonés)||Avenida Zaragoza 5, Primer piso - 31003 Pamplona||948 185836|
|BLANCA DE NAVARRA||Doña Blanca||Avda. Pío XII, 43 - 31008 Pamplona||948 171010|
|CASA AZCONA||Casa Azcona||Avda. Belascoain 24 - 31180 Zizur Mayor||948 287662|
|NH El Toro||El Toro||Ctra. de Guipúzcoa, Km. 5 - 31195 Berrioplano||948 302211|
|SANCHE RAMÍREZ||La Barrica del Sancho||c/ Sancho Ramírez, 11 - 31008 Pamplona||948 271712|
|SERCOTEL EUROPA||Europa||c/ Espoz y Mina, 11 - 31001 Pamplona||948 221800|
|SERCOTEL IRIGUIBEL||El Salón de estar (Bar-snack)||c/ Intxaurdia, 4 - 31620 Huarte/Pamplona||948 361190|
|VILLAVA||Restaurante-hotel Villava||Avda. de Pamplona s/n - 31610 Villava||948 333676|
|YOLDI||Restaurante Hotel Yoldi||Avda. San Ignacio, 11 - 31002 Pamplona||948 224800|
|ALAIZ||Restaurante Hotel Alaiz||Ctra. Zaragoza 1, Km. 9 - 31191 Beriáin||948 310175|
|DON CARLOS||Don Carlos||c/ Dorraburu 1 - 31620 Huarte||948 330077|
|PAMPLONA PLAZA||Artea||Avda. Marcelo Celayeta 35 - 31014 Pamplona||948 136 012|
The origin of the fiesta of San Fermín goes back to the Middle Ages and is related to three celebrations: religious ceremonies in honour of San Fermín, which intensified from the 12th century onwards, trade fairs and bullfights, which were first documented in the 14th century.
The rocket that inaugurates the fiesta of San Fermín is known as the chupinazo. At 12 noon on July 6th thousands of people fill City Hall Square to overflowing. With great expectation, accompanied by chants, shouting and cheering, the crowd dressed in red and white waits for a member of the City Council to light the fuse of the rocket. To the shout of "Pamploneses, Viva San Fermín Gora San Fermín!" the places erupts and thousands of red neck scarves are waved to welcome nine days of unparalleled fun.
The Encierro is the event at the heart of the Sanfermines and makes the fiesta a spectacle that would be unimaginable in any other place in the world. It was born from need: getting the bulls from outside the city into the bullring. The encierro takes place from July 7th to 14th and starts at the corral in Calle Santo Domingo when the clock on the church of San Cernin strikes eight o'clock in the morning. After the launching of two rockets, the bulls charge behind the runners for 825 metres, the distance between the corral and the bullring. The run usually lasts between three and four minutes although it has sometimes taken over ten minutes, especially if one of the bulls has been isolated from his companions.
The bull run has a particularly emotional prelude. It is when the runners, just a few metres up the slope from the corral where the bulls are waiting, raise their rolled newspapers and chant to an image of San Fermín placed in a small recess in the wall in the Cuesta de Santo Domingo. Against the strongest of silences, the following words can be heard: "A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición. Entzun arren San Fermin zu zaitugu patroi zuzendu gure oinak entzierro hontan otoi." (We ask San Fermín, being our patron saint, to guide us in the bull run and give us his blessing). When they finish they shout "¡Viva San Fermín! ¡Gora San Fermín!." This chant is sung three times before 8 a.m.: first, when there are five minutes to go before 8 o'clock, then three minutes and one minute before the gate of the corral is opened.
GIGANTES Y CABEZUDOS
The Comparsa de Gigantes y Cabezudos a whole 'court' of kings preceded by its entourage of carnival figures with big heads, kilikis and zaldikos (horse figures). There are 25 papier-mâché figures that follow different routes through the city every day.