There are many things to see as you explore Pamplona's Old Quarter: not least the Plaza or Square in front of the Town Hall, from which, at midnight every 6th July, a rocket is fired marking the start of one of the world's most famous fiestas.
Furthermore, along the streets of the Old Quarter one can appreciate a pot pourri of architectural styles; from the gothic Iglesia de San Cernín to the Neoclassical façades on most of the buildings, except the Town Hall which, built after 1750, boasts a late baroque design. During the “roaring 20s” these streets would also welcome Josephine Baker, an American dancer known the world over for breaking the mould by dancing topless.
Heading up the street with the Iglesia de San Cernín behind you, on your right is the famously curved calle Estafeta. Continue walking as far as the Town Hall and you'll get to a slope that takes you up to Pamplona's Cathedral. This is the highest point of the city; a building that dates back as far as 1100, it possesses a mix of late baroque and neoclassical design from the 18th century. To the left of the main entrance, you can see the cathedral's gothic remains, while on the inside, a magnificently domed ceiling adorned with the coats of arms of European kings.
It's not at all bad, is it? But, you'll probably asking yourself.. “that's all well and good, but is there an interesting story behind this cathedral?” Well, it just so happens there is. Since the medieval period, this building had been home to a magnificent treasure, which was stolen, in 1935, by the “white-collar” thief, Sr. Oviedo De La Mota.
Seemingly, when he was nabbed by Police, the treasure had already long been removed from Spanish territory. In fact, it is thought that De La Mota's intention was to ship the treasures as far as England, which leads one to believe he had carried out the robbery on behalf of someone else.
So there you go! Who'd have thought that within the walls of Pamplona's cathedral such a thing had taken place? If you need to recover from such a revelation, we recommend taking a stroll down calle Ansoleaga as far as the Cámera de Comptos (which takes care of all the money going in and out of the Region of Navarre) and taking a bird's eyes view of the old defensive walls, thanks to which the supposedly invincible armies of the French Revolution were unable to enter the city in 1794.
The Plaza del Castillo, a typical meeting-point between pamplonicas, is also worth a visit. It owes its name to the two castles that once stood here. At one point it was also a bull-ring. And we recommend having a drink in the Café Iruña, though please don't imagine that this place, one of the few surviving examples of modernist architecture that even now remains virtually unchanged since its opening, is in need of any free advertising.
The Iglesia de San Nicolás (the Church of St Nicolas) with its gorgeous gothic interior, the Palacio de los Reyes and the Museum of Navarre are just a few more places that it's worth taking the time to visit.
And to conclude, we leave you no choice but to walk as far as the carralillos, or pens, located on the Santo Domingo hill; then follow along as far as the Town Hall, turn down Mercaderes street and once again join with the Estafeta street which takes you down a stretch (the Telefónica) up to the alley which marks the entrance to the bull-ring. Does it ring any bells?