Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pamplona ? a Complete Adventure

Although bullfights may be the main and popular event in Pamplona, there are many more beautiful sights and places worth visiting. There are plenty of valleys and peaks intertwined with the ancient structures dating back to the early centuries. Eastern Pamplona Try the breath-taking Roncal Valley, which is surrounded by a few looming mountains, with peaks as high as 2000 m or the Salazar Valley, which houses a typical village against the picturesque mountain ranges for a nature focused excursion. Here, you will also discover the 13th century monument, Nuestra SeƱora de Musquilda, which is a Romanesque basilica. The town of Roncal holds some manorial homes as well as the more famous Mausoleum of Gayarre, a renowned opera singer. There are lots of activities to keep a visitor occupied during the winter in Belagua and Isaba, as these towns are well equipped with winter sports facilities. With the historical San Salvador de Leyre monastery nearby, this ancient building sits impressively on a big rock, housing the archbishop's seat and kings' tombs. Legend has it that the monk, San Virila, spent 300 years listening to some birds' beautiful singing as he was meditating. Today, you can also appreciate the sounds of the Gregorian Chorals monks, whose daily performances have enthralled many listeners. There are more castles and nature parks in this part of the region, which are full of history and great personalities from days of old. Southern Pamplona This part of Pamplona houses a lot of ancient palaces and has Renaissance relics in the old churches. For example, you will see wonderfully conserved fortresses in Olite, which once belonged to the Navarra kings. Many ancient structures here have been fortified and conserved to enable visitors to enjoy the full resplendent view of the region. This region has very fertile land, as it is nourished by the Ebro and Quelles rivers. Its Moorish streets and ancient cathedral, with Bardenas Reales Natural Park in the midst of a strange and dry landscape, make this place an interesting area to discover some historical and natural treasures. This is how Estella is made famous; although it is 900 years old, it still holds a historical importance as well being alive with fresh trout and eels, which find their way to the region's cuisine recipes. The Baztan valley is an excellent location to view the beautiful panorama of the valley, with the town Eliozondo right on the Baztan River. Way of Saint James Some of the legendary monuments can be located in this part of Pamplona, along the pilgrimage path. The Holy Ghost chapel, or Silo de Carlo Magno, was supposedly built in the 12th century but its origin is not ascertained; nevertheless, this chapel is placed above a cave, which has dead pilgrims buried. Similarly, another nearby chapel, Santiago Chapel, has a bell tower, which rings to assist lost or attacked pilgrims along the way. Folklore and Festivals The best and most popular festival in Pamplona happens in San Fermin, where its annual bullfighting event shocks thousands of spectators worldwide, via television. Hundreds of white shirted young men are chased, by a stampede of bulls, through the town streets. Challengers of this feat can end up in blood, sweat, and tears. This spectacular event happens on every July 7th, followed by a week of partying, festivity, dancing, singing, drinking, and all forms of celebration, making it the year's most adrenalin-flowing event. The region is full of other festivities throughout the year that celebrate some traditional or historical events. These celebrations are always lively, with traditional dances and songs. A special day is observed on June 24th where pilgrims from all over the region head towards a cave in Yanci for cleansing through the three springs. It is believed that the spring waters can cure illnesses miraculously.