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Pamplona

Navarra

Audioguide of Pamplona

What to see in Pamplona

Pamplona... capital of the “ancient kingdom” of Navarre, is nowadays a city of middling size (some 200,000 according to a count carried out in 2016) where modern urbanism resides harmoniously alongside some truly revered monuments that you simply Must See.  Pamplona is a city with a very long history. As you're listening to this audioguide, it is likely you are fond of ancient settlements and that you've seen the period drama Rome, in which case you'll know who Pompey was. Ok... so this steadfast enemy of Julius Ceasar was the founder of this city, to which he gave his name, calling it Pompaelo, literally the city of Pompey, in around 74 AD... And if, in addition to the TV series you're also familiar with the comics of Asterix and Obelix, you've probably already heard of Pompaelo, as it's the first stop on the Gauls' trip to Hispania.

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Pamplona... capital of the “ancient kingdom” of Navarre, is nowadays a city of middling size (some 200,000 according to a count carried out in 2016) where modern urbanism resides harmoniously alongside some truly revered monuments that you simply Must See.  Pamplona is a city with a very long history. As you're listening to this audioguide, it is likely you are fond of ancient settlements and that you've seen the period drama Rome, in which case you'll know who Pompey was. Ok... so this steadfast enemy of Julius Ceasar was the founder of this city, to which he gave his name, calling it Pompaelo, literally the city of Pompey, in around 74 AD... And if, in addition to the TV series you're also familiar with the comics of Asterix and Obelix, you've probably already heard of Pompaelo, as it's the first stop on the Gauls' trip to Hispania.

And now the introductions are over, we're going to talk about what you Must See in this city. Thanks to a certain North American writer, Ernest Hermingway – who, let's face it, was no shrinking violet – Pamplona has become world famous for the San Fermin fiestas and now it would seem that if you're not here between 7th and 14th July there's nothing to see in this city. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Pamplona citadel, and the remains of its walls in the area known as Redín, are history writ large and it's well worth coming down here to take a stroll on any given day. Apart from being a perfectly preserved example of baroque military architecture, these walls (capable of resisting attacks from enemy artillery for days, weeks, even months...) have born witness to some very unusual activity.

In the year 1691, when Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, was fighting yet another of his wars, his loyal agent on the border between the two Navarres (nowadays the French and the Spanish) the brilliant Duke Antonio de Gramont, sent a number of spies to infiltrate into the very heart of the “ancient kingdom” of Navarre. They managed to do so, though the news they sent back was hardly good. The spies informed the duke that agents from Holland (then great allies of the Spanish) were working in ironworks all along the border, preparing a wide and varied assortment of arms. And for what purpose were they getting so prepared? Well probably for the invasion of Bearn, a region situated at the foot of the French Pyrenees.

However in addition to all that, apparently the spies also believed that the courts of Navarre were very angry with the King of Spain... so much so, that they were prepared to mount a rebellion. But it would seem that the spies' intuitive abilities left much to be desired, since the courts were nothing be appreciative of the money sent by the Spanish king for the improvement of the formidable and deadly construction, which are the walls you see before you today. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, so effective were the walls that a hundred years later, in February 1808, the invincible troops at the command of Napoleon were forced to mount the strangest of attacks in order to penetrate the citadel. Taking advantage of a some heavy snowfall, the Emperor's sharp-witted soldiers managed to trick the guards posted on the entrance to the citadel by showering them with snow balls. Hard though it may be to believe, this is how the French managed to storm the gates and overthrow the town, thereby avoiding a siege that would have lasted many days, perhaps even months, and probably led to many losses in the ranks: in those days, taking a fort of this kind usually meant sacrificing 7 out of every 10 of the attacking soldiers. Stand in the trenches surrounding the citadel and you'll gain a better understanding of why. You'll see that any advance would mean leaving yourself open to attack from three sides.

And to end, why not use this opportunity to take a photo of yourself simulating an attack on these ancient walls and post in on Instagram?


Pamplona

Calle San Saturnino, 2 (Oficina de Turismo)
31001 Pamplona
(+34) 948 420 700

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