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Visit Pamplona

How to Spend Your Downtime in Pamplona

Most likely, the first thing you ever heard about Pamplona was that during one week every year the whole town pours out onto the narrow roads of the historic city centre and rushes in the early morning to race a herd of raging bulls from one end of the city to the other. If so, this is both true and utterly uncharacteristic of the people and the nature of the Navarrese capital – a place that generally exudes a sense of peaceful comfort easily caught and shared by its visitors.


The Feast of San Fermín takes place between July 7 and July 14 every year, and in the XX century it was transformed from a largely unknown, provincial little fiesta, like so many others across the Spanish geography, to a worldwide phenomenon, partly televised to a wide array of countries, visited by over one million tourists on a yearly basis and both recognised and recognisable all over the planet. Incredibly, this is all largely due to the influence of Ernest Hemingway, whose The Sun Also Rises, made the tradition known to the English-speaking world.

Fascinating as this might all sound, in all likelihood running the bulls in an immensely crowded medieval alley will not be the most conducive strategy to improving your Spanish language skills beyond, perhaps, the occasional cry for help. Therefore, if you wish to learn Spanish in Pamplona, it might be advisable to avoid those dates, or if your sense of adventure is too strong, to append that extra week of fun right at the start or at the end of your trip.

Above All, Pragmatism

Despite the flair, the sensibility, and the charm that are intrinsic to Spanish, and to the the rest of the Romance languages, a vast amount of people – perhaps, even, the majority – seek to improve their Spanish for practical reasons, rather than just for the love of knowledge. With English emerging as the international lingua franca across the world in the past fifty years or so, Spanish has risen to become the second most spoken language in the Western world and, consequently, an invaluable tool when it comes to business practices and negotiations.

If you are one of those people seeking such an improvement, then you will need to look into the right Spanish school in Pamplona, to complement the vocabulary and the structuring of sentences from standard forms into corporate language. In this sense, there are several places in the city where you could combine business and professional courses with Spanish classes, looking into a wide array of commercial activities, from the specialised jargon germane to doctors and other professionals from the medicine sector, to the equally term-specific scene of construction and infrastructural development.

Pamplona is a perfectly appropriate city from which to expand your knowledge of Spanish and to specialise in the specific field of work where you might carry your trade. Reserved, quiet and touchingly beautiful, the Navarrese capital encourages you to embark on a project of your own, allows for long periods of concentration, and will seldom reach out with temptations of any sort to drive you away from your work. At the same time, a welcoming and utterly relaxed atmosphere will provide for enough entertainment during the idle hours when you want to have a break from your tasks.

A Centre of Diversity

The historical Navarrese capital of the medieval Reyno, Pamplona is deeply steeped in a long tradition of monarchs, conflicts, invasions and repulsions that reaches all the way back to the days of its foundation, by the Roman general Pompeius Magnus. Inhabited originally by Vascone tribes, the city was called Iruña by the locals, – a toponym that to this day is used as alternative to the Latinised Pamplona. As a matter of fact, to this day the vast majority of signs, names, shops and other services of daily use are provided both in the local Navarrese dialect and in the standard Spanish used across the peninsula.


Vascones, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims, Franks and what not, Pamplona's diverse past is a close mapping of the history of Spain, where the Kingdom of Navarre once played a dominant and powerful role. Those days are gone, and Pamplona is now provincial and hugely appealing. Nevertheless, the mark that days past have left in the place and the surrounding area are truly rich sources of information from which you can win a unique insight into the temperament and the roots of Spanish people.

The Navarra Museum of Pamplona and a visit to the Cathedral are both activities that you should set aside time to go and see whilst on a time out from Spanish classes, as they give you an interesting and intruiging look at traditional life in the Kingdowm of Navarre, over and above running away from bulls.

So, when you visit Pamplona make certain you tap into the resources it offers, looking a bit further than the dazzle of stereotypes. That way, you will be sure of learning a lot more than just a language!