Navarra Region

Navarre the land of quaint villages, rich history and gorgeous green spaces

 
Navarra Region Map  

Navarra Region...Amid the Pyrenees and the river Ebro and between the Basque Country and Aragón lies Navarre, one of the oldest kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the lands with most personality and charm.Navarra-San-Fermin

Outside of Spain, Navarra is known worldwide for the festival of San Fermín commonly known as the running of the bulls that takes place every year during the week of July 7th.  At eight o’clock in the morning the streets of Pamplona, the capital, are filled with thousands of runners being chased by wild bulls.  Happiness and adrenaline as well as fear join together in an extraordinary event that Ernest Hemingway helped make famous around the world.

Pamplona is a delightful city, with good restaurants and bars, definitely worth visiting and a good starting point to get to know the main attractions of Navarre.  The north of the region is very much linked by geography, culture and even linguistically to the Basque Country.  A good portion of its inhabitants speak Basque their surnames as well as the names of the towns, mountains, valleys and rivers are in Basque and the landscape is very similar to that of Guipúzcoa. In northern Navarra stands the Valle del Baztán descending from the French border in the Pyrenees it’s landscape dominated by gorgeous caseríos or rural homes and small quiet towns.  In the higher areas of the mountains the caseríos give way to magnificent forests of oak and beech. In the far north of the Valle Baztán, very close to France, are the caves of Zugarramurdi famous for hosting the last ritual dances of witches in Spain, tried and sentenced to death by fire in the early seventeenth century.

Another good alternative to get to know the Navarre Pyrenees is to visit the natural park of Irati, the largest mass of beech preserved in Europe.  In autumn the forest is spectacular, walking from Orbaizeta to France crossing the beech forest the destination being Saint Jean pied de port, a charming French Basque town and starting point for European pilgrims who follow El Camino de Santiago or St. James Way from Roncesvalles traversing the forests of Navarre heading to Pamplona.

Navarra-Puente-de-la-ReinaBefore leaving Navarra and entering La Rioja, El Camino de Santiago passes through two cities of great interest, Estella and Puente de la Reina.  Estella has a magnificent central square and several medieval churches, of greater interest is the fact that it was the Carlist capital in the nineteenth century, here fighters and followers of the ultraconservative Don Carlos fought several bloody wars against the supporters of Queen Isabel II.   In Puente de la Reina stands a magnificent preserved medieval bridge that allows pilgrims of El Camino de Santiago to cross the river Arga.

The southern part of Navarra is more linked to Aragón, the language spoken is castellano. Here the thing that stands out the most are its great crops, well watered by the river Ebro, of artichokes, beets, asparagus and thistles which later on are transported to the best markets and restaurants in Spain.  Tudela is the capital, a lively and cheerful town with a notable historic quarter and excellent bars were to indulge in tasty morsels and tapas.  Here and for the most part in all of Navarra beer gives way to the excellent wines of La Ribera, predominately reds, but also famous for its rosés.

If running with the bulls is on you bucket list see you in Pamplona on July 7th.

 

 

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