Pamplona (population 200.000) is the first big city on the route. Quite modern with a fairly advanced tourist infrastructure. There are buses to Burguete, Puenta la Reina, Estella, Logrono. A map shop opposite the cathedral is helpful.

Tourist Offices: an enlightened office on right-hand side of main road as one nears the city.  Main TO is on the Calle Ahumada, east of the central Plaza del Castillo.
Pamplona belongs to the Roman era and is said to be founded by Pompey. The first documented references to this fascinating town have been attributed to Strabo, the classical geographer and historian. Charlemagne destroyed the city in 778. The Basques avenged this vandalism with their stunning defeat of an important part of his army at Roncesvalles.

The eleventh century witnessed the dramatic development of Pamplona as it expanded into attractive suburbia for the many foreigners, particularly the French, to settle there. The Navarese, who occupied part of the city, gave it the eponymous label, Navarreria.

San Fermin was the city’s first Bishop and Patron. His feast is regularly celebrated on 7 July. This is followed by the famous or the infamous (depending on your attitudes to animals and humans!) bull- running week chronicled by the macho Ernest Hemingway, who had little regard for the “sentimental” anti-blood sports and feminist lobby. Times have greatly changed since then, and Hemingway is no longer held in awe, especially by the new more articulate and efficiently organised generation of ecology and animal rights activists.

The medieval period was plagued by conflict and confrontations between the native population and the more privileged burghers from elsewhere.  The old town was ruined during The Civil War in 1276. The famous privilegio de la Union, granted by Carlos III on 8 September 1423, put an end to the rivalries. Later, the city was refortified.
We recommend a visit to the gothic cathedral. This is built on the supposed site of the Roman capital. The “new” cathedral replaces a Romanesque one said to be designed by Master Esteban. It was commissioned by the imperious Sancho “el Mayor” (1100-1127).  Dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the cathedral is built on a Latin cross design. It has three aisles. In the eighteenth century a neoclassical façade, designed by Ventura Rodriguez, heightened its splendour. The north tower is home to the second largest bell in Spain. Weighing twelve tons, it was cast by Pedro de Villanueva in 1584.

Above the high altar is the eye-catching image of Virgen del Sagrario or Santa Maria la Real. The kings of Navarre swore their oaths in front of this image. The Child was added to this venerated figure, but both are overshadowed by a neo-gothic baldachin.
A fifteenth century alabaster mausoleum of Carlos III “el Noble” and his wife Leonora of Trastamara is prominently positioned in the main nave. Experts describe it as a jewel of Gothic funerary art.

The grille across the entrance to the chancel is also very attractive, flamboyant and gothic. The highly talented Guillermo Ervenat created it in1517.
The Gothic cloister on the square plan is a most imaginative architectural work.
Those with a strong interest in paintings and sculpture should take in The Diocesan Museum with its very impressive collection from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. There is some delightfully unusual metalwork.

The Hospital of San Miguel adjoins the cathedral. Constructed in the eleventh century, it is celebrated for the humane thirteenth century activities of Bishop Miguel Sanchez de Uncastillo. He provided 50 beds for the use of pilgrims, every one of whom was supplied with bread, wine, and a plate of vegetables and meat. The pilgrim’s kitchen, with its central chimney, still exists.  Hospitals were located at number 13 calle Dormitaleria and number 3 Compania. At a time when robbers and brigands ruthlessly preyed on defenceless pilgrims, the pilgrims resting in San Miguel were safe under the special protection of what were regarded as the city’s law enforcement officers.
The 16th century Hospital de Nuestra Senora de la Misericordia, now the Museum of Navarre, still retains its charming platersque doorway. Here are Navarre exhibits, artistic and archaeological, of different periods. The eleventh century ivory casket carved in Cordoba and transported to Navarre will delight you. There’s even a Goya portrait of the Marquis de San Adrian (1804).

The Church of San Cernin or San Saturnino of Toulouse is a monument to the city’s evangelist and patron. Outside, a marker indicates the position of the well used by the saint to baptise the city’s first Christians. This Romanesque church was rebuilt in the thirteenth century. The north tower with battlements, which survived into the eighteenth century, had martial overtones. The eighteenth century baroque chapel of the Virgen del Camino is a reminder of an age when artists and builders put the spiritual above the material.   A statue of St James in his pilgrim role (Santiago Peregrino) is in the facade.

The renaissance retable in the church of Santo Domingo (XVI century) is dominated by a representation of Santiago Apostil. Also depicted is the legend of the donkey stolen from a family of pilgrims.  Thanks to the saint’s intervention, the family got their donkey back. A number of tombs are of historical importance.

The Camera de Comptos was the ancient Chancellor’s court. It is now the headquarters of the Principle de Viana Institute. This small building is an endearing example of 13th-X1Vth Pamplona’s civil Gothic style. In 1868 it was declared a national monument. Part of it abuts on to the city wall, built as a protection against invaders.
 If you are looking for paintings of high artistic and material value, you will find many in the mid-nineteenth century, neoclassical style Palace of Navarre. The royal archives contain first-rate documentary sources for the Spanish medieval period. Fascinating, too, are the Liber Regalis or ceremonial book of the English court (XVIth century) and the enamel chalice, which Carlos III presented to the Virgin of Ujue.
 The University of Navarre in Pamplona is regarded as one of Spain’s leading universities.


Refuge: (24) Refugio Iglesia San Cernin. Open from May to October. (70) Albergue Amaiur with hot showers and no kitchen. Open in July and August.1200 - 2130.
Ezcaba campsite tel:948330315 is beyond Oricain out of town. 8.5 km. on the N121 to Irun. Open from June to September. Pension  Lambertini, Calle de Mercadores 17, tel:  948 21 03 03, is in the city on the pilgrim route and charges 4000 for a double room. Pension Arrieta, c/Arrieta 27, has double rooms for 25 Euros. bikes accommodated. Hotel La Perla has single rooms for 18 Euros. tel: 948 22 77 06. Ernest Hemingway stayed in this hotel in room 217. Hotel Eslava, Plaza Virgen de la O,7, tel: 948 22 34 28 has double rooms for 35 Euros.

Hotel Fonda, accommodation something of a problem. Exasperatingly expensive between 1 and 15 July (festival of San Firmin and the ‘running of the bulls’).  The calle San Nicolas has a number of bars. Most are rowdy, and some have their own share of lager louts, mostly foreigners, heartily despised by the locals.  The bars are not as cheap as they once were. The ghost of the thirsty Hemingway will be outraged. Bar Gallego. 10 Euros. El Labrador, pilgrim menu for 10 Euros. Restaurante Sarasate is Vegetarian.
 Try no.25, the Bearan, with a 2nd floor patio for bicycles. Also give the Calle San Esteban a try. If you are still “homeless” and insecure, enquire at the Hostel Ibarra, Calle Estafeta 85, near the bullring. In 1993 the Hotel Lorca, on the main square, won some accolades; it was praised for its quiet and comfort. The Restaurante El Redin, Calle del Mercado, near Museo de Navarra, serves good food.  (850-peseta menu).

1 )Trinidad de Arre convent on the river Ulzama, just before the Villava bridge as you enter Pamplona. Beds, hot showers and kitchen.  Forty-five minute walk into the city.
2) Pamplona refuge, next to San Cernin is very good, with 20 bunk beds, 2 showers and kitchen. Limited space for bikes. 6 Euros.

Ezcaba at Oricain, 7km north of Pamplona on the N121 road to Irun; shop, bar and swimming pool, open 1 June to 25 September.

Cycle Repairs:
Bicicletas Alberto, Calle Monasteno de Urdax 23, tel. 948.17.26.09;  Reparacion Bicicletas, Calle Monasteno lranzu 5, tel. (948) 27.62.77; Ciclos Olite, Calle Alfonso Beorlegui 50, tel. (948) 11.72.29.


The route is way marked through Pamplona with blue and yellow plaques bearing the Council of Europe’s path of the stars motif. Your guiding “star” is the “point” of the cluster. There are many such plaques along the camino. Most are for decorative purposes, and are of no help in plotting your way. 
To reach the cathedral, turn off the Calle del Carmen at a small square with a statue.
Keep straight on along the Calle del Carmen, turn right into the Calle de Mercadores, continue to the Plaza Consistorial, turn right into the Calle san Saturnino and keep straight on to the Calle Mayor. Go straight on, and pass left of a public garden. At the crossing of Avenida Pius XII and Avenida Jaconera, veer left to parkland surrounding the Cuidadela and follow the flagstone path (way marked). When it turns in front of the Cuidadela, swing right across the grass to the road.

Cross and continue down the Calle Fuente de Hierro. This leads downhill under the road bridge across the campus of the University of Navarre, and becomes the Camino de Santiago.

Continue along a minor road signposted “Cizor Menor”. Cross the bridge, first over the river Sadar, and then the rive Elorz. Proceed. When the modern road forks to the left, fork right, keep straight on. Cross the busy railway track with care. Or, go up steps to the road (both options join up 100 m later) Continue and this path develops into a pavement along the main road to the left, which it joins. Go to the top of the hill descending to the village of Cizur Menor.

Cyclists are warned. It is difficult to get your directions right with a street map of Pamplona. Many one-way streets and intersecting medieval streets can add to your frustration. The Pamplona route is not easy to find. There are no signposts in the centre. It is only when you discover the correct exit, after a possibly exhausting search, will you find the N111 (Puenta La Reina) signpost to the outskirts. The citizens are helpful to strangers and you are advised to stop and ask for directions. Once you are on the N111 and cross the route, the rest  is easy.

4km to Cizur Menor




A SUMMARY OF A PAGE FROM The Village to Village Guide To The Camino Santiago: With Permission Simon Walleberg Press. The Book is available at Amazon & Most Bookshops.

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A SUMMARY OF A PAGE FROM The Village to Village Guide To The Camino Santiago: With Permission Simon Walleberg Press. The Book is available at Amazon & Most Bookshops.