In the northern region of Navarra three things may be expected; breath-taking landscapes, rich monumental history and world famous festivals. From the rustically tiered towns to the exquisite Pyrenees mountain range, Navarra displays everything Spain has to offer.
This Spanish region is celebrated as being part of The Way of St. James. A spiritual pilgrimage trail which leads to the burial remains of St James the Great in Galicia in the north west of Spain. This may be a route chosen by those with a deep spiritual motivation, a love of traditional culture and the spectacular views of the Cantabrian Sea and Mountain landscapes. Navarra’s deep rooted culture and varied scenery defines it as a Spanish travel highlight.The regional capital Pamplona however, is the heart of Navarra. The medieval 16th century town walls and beautiful neo-classical building facades are home to one of Spain’s most celebrated festivals, the San Fermín Festival.
The week long Sanfermines festival aims to honour Saint Fermín blasts into life with the chupinazo, a ceremonial rocket marking the beginning of the festivities. Held between the 6th–14th of July annually, the layered streets of Pamplona are filled with a million strong crowd from all over the world. Spanish music, joyous dancing and great food are shared throughout the city of Pamplona by everyone; usually dressed in the traditional white and red attire. This may be a once in a lifetime experience.
All these celebrations and fiestas are hosted in a city which seem to boast mesmerising architecture and design. Pamplona’s architectural focal point is the citadel, a left over of Spanish renaissance. The 16th century fortification is made up of pavilions, moats and gentle embankments which locals and tourists of the San Fermín Festival get to enjoy. The plaza de Castillo known as ‘Pamplona’s living room’ is the castle square in the centre of the city. Revered for its beautiful fountains, theatres and cafes, the Plaza de Castillo is a market place which may enrich all senses.
It is near this Plaza de Castillo the main attraction of Sanfermines is held. The Encierro, or running with the bulls. Encierro gained most of its popularity though the work of Ernest Hemingway who was an avid fan of the vivid San Fermín Festival and great admirer of the Sanfermines people.
Thought to have started in the early 14th century, this bull running method seemed to spawned from necessity. As the bulls required herding from outside the city walls to the bull ring inside the city, men aimed to use tactics of excitement to quicken the transportation process. This led to a Spanish tradition for young men to run out in front of the bulls, using agility and limits of hesitancy to reach the ring in safety.
Cue the birth of Encierro. This 825 metre bull charge aims to fill the streets of Pamplona with hushed tension and electricity. Starting at the corral in Santo Domingo and ending in the Plaza de Toros bull ring, the runners have 3-4 minutes of heart pounding, adrenaline fuelled running through the historic streets of Pamplona. Once the Encierro is done, the party continues mainly in the Plaza de Toros where famous bull traditions are still held.
The San Fermín Festival has enticed generations of people from around the world. This is either to be a part of the vibrant crowd and soak up the atmosphere or participate in the astounding Encierro bull running. There is a reason this is a milestone so many people want to accomplish. To test one’s daring, nerve and agility, to chance fate in a beautiful ancient city. It may be an achievement which aims to at all times remembered and has to be seen to be believed.
What other exhilarating adventures do might people yearn to experience this year?