Guide to Pamplona
It was not until the arrival of the Roman General Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus ‘The Great’ that Pamplona was officially founded between the year 75 and 74 b.c. This was due to the fact that he needed a camp for his troops who were at war with Sertorius and thus decided to set up camp at this Vascon settlement.
The city then became known as Pompeiopolis or Pompaelo (the city of Pompeius). Gradually the city grew until it became a large Roman city with hot baths, temples to the gods and a forum. Although the city maintained its own form of government, it was nevertheless forced to pay rent to Rome for its protection.
Its strategic position at the crossroads of routes to Gallia, the Cantabrian area and the Ebro, meant that it was mainly a trading city. The golden age of Pamplona was between the last quarter of the first century and the end of the second-century a.d.. The city, which was evangelized in the 1st century by Saint Saturnino was razed to the ground around the year 275 by an invasion of Germanic tribes. After partial recovery, the city was attacked again in 409 by Vandals and Alans who completely destroyed it and wiped out all vestiges of Roman remains in Pamplona.
After the Barbarian invasions Pamplona, which at that time extended to the area which is now known as the ‘Navarreria neighbourhood’, was controlled by the Visigoths and remained so between the years 466 until 711, when it fell into Muslim hands (even though from the end of the 6th century it appears as an Episcopal See.
The period of Muslim domination was a lot less turbulent than previous years since in spite of this being a time of hostilities, Pamplona had a fairly good relationship with the Arabs. In exchange for a tax, the Arabs allowed the nobles of Pamplona to conserve their Christian religion.
In 778, Charlemagne, on his return from Zaragoza, destroyed the city walls and looted the city’s dwellings. Charlemagne then continued on his journey until reaching Roncesvalles where he was defeated in the historic battle of Roncesvalles.
The joining of the three boroughs not only brought an end to the continuous disputes, but also marked the beginning of modern Pamplona. Houses and institutional buildings were built in the areas between the three boroughs and a process of political, administrative and social integration began.
The Castille’ conquest and annexation of Navarre in 1512 were to convert Pamplona into the political capital of the Navarre peninsular and head of the Viceroyalty. Fernando the Catholic ordered the city to be fortified and thus Pamplona increased its value as a fortified city with the construction, in the 16th century of the citadel and also the strengthening of Pamplona’s city walls in 1516 and 1521.
During the eighteenth century, the city’s fortification continued, but urbanistic worries also arose, leading to Pamplona’s modernisation and the creation of municipal services such as the drains and sewage system finished in 1772, water (1790) and street lighting (1799). Similarly, the houses were numbered, street-names were put up, roads were paved and several palaces were built, including the town hall (1752). Likewise, religious monuments were built, including the cathedral’s neoclassic façade.
And yet it was not long before armed conflict returned. In 1794 Pamplona was besieged and in 1808 occupied by Napoleon’s troops who remained in the city until it was liberated at the end of the War for Independence in 1813.
But this was not the end of the fighting. In 1823 the city was besieged and bombarded by the ‘Hundred thousand sons of Saint Luis’ who had come to fight against Pamplona’s ‘liberal’ garrison to return Fernando VII to power.
But above all, Pamplona suffered during the Carlist wars (1833-1877). During these wars, Pamplona supported Queen Isabel whilst rural Navarre supported Charles, the pretender. In 1873, during the last Carlist war, Pamplona was bombarded from Mount Saint Christopher, the same mountain where Alfonso XII later built his fortress.
At the end of the nineteenth century, there was an uprising of the people of Navarre. This uprising came to be popularly known as the Gamazada. Eighty thousand people from all over Navarre came together in Pamplona on the 4th of June 1895 to protest against a decision taken by the Inland Revenue which attacked Navarre’s System of Ancient Rights. In view of this protest, Gamazo, the Minister was forced to resign and the decision was reversed. After this, the people of Navarre contributed money from their own pockets to erect a Monument to Ancient Rights (built in 1903) in the Paseo de Sarasate.
Pamplona the City
Population growth (by 1900 Pamplona had a population of 28,886), meant that the city began to experience serious problems of lack of space since the expansion was limited by the city walls. This was when the people of Pamplona realised there was a need to enlarge the city and is why at the beginning of this century demolition of the city walls began and work on enlarging the first and second began. The area that was built at that time is characterised by large, wide streets.
In the middle of this century, the city was still expanding and its population increasing. In 1950 Pamplona had over 72,000 inhabitants and the boroughs which had been built outside the city walls also began to grow. Economic and industrial growth lead to the founding of Navarre University and the Landaben industrial area.
And yet it was during the sixties that Pamplona experienced its greatest period of demographic, urbanistic and economic growth, with the population increasing further to 97,000. The population growth spread right into the boroughs and new boroughs began to spring up. This was how to the North of Pamplona the new boroughs of Chantrea, Rochapea, Pedro and San Jorge, in the South Abejeras and Milagrosa and to the West Echavacoiz, were created.
Demographic expansion continued during the 70s (now 147,000 inhabitants) leading to the 3rd Expansion of Pamplona – with the creation of areas such as la Vuelta del Castillo (Right) and Taconera. At this time the peripheral boroughs were consolidated and the municipalities of the river basin also grew.
In spite of this expansion and thanks to some military land which was not yet built upon, Pamplona is lucky enough to have several large parks scattered around the city covering a total land area of 22 square kilometres.
Nowadays, Pamplona can be distinguished by the districts of Old Town, I and II Ensanche, San Juan, Iturrama, Milagrosa, Azpilagana, Etxabakoitz, Chantrea, Rochapea, San Jorge, Mendebaldea and Mendillorri, which were incorporated into the city in 1998. The total population of the city then was approx. 184.000 inhabitants.
Running of the bulls in Pamplona
The Running of the Bull, San Fermin is the most well-known event of the Sanfermines and the reason why so many strangers make their way to Pamplona on the 7th of July. It consists of people (mainly men although women do also take part) running along particular stretches of the streets which have been previously walled off, in front of the bulls being herded from the Santo Domingo corrals towards the Bull Ring where they will be fought later that afternoon. A total of six bulls are ‘run’ as well as two herds of tame bulls and the route, which runs through different streets of the old city centre, measures 825 metres. This dangerous race, which runs every morning between the 7th and 14th of July, begins at 8.00 a.m.