Pamplona Cathedral

Pamplona. Famous or infamous for its bull run in early July, when six bulls are released in the town and run through the streets to the bull ring. A bonkers cruel tradition (as is bullfighting) which the council would like to see as a minor distraction to an otherwise very interesting city.

Bullfighting, Navarre, Mary Royal
Pamplona Cathedral, Navarre, Spain showing the vaults in the nave.

The capital of Navarre, it is rich in history, and so consequently architecture. The cathedral is one of the great gothic churches built on the Comino, the pilgrims route to Santiago. The naves with their great vaults were built in the fifteenth century but on the site of an earlier Romanesque church. There is a wonderful Romanesque canopy over the Saint Mary Royal in the sanctuary which, unfortunately is screened with iron railings. The cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria la Real.

Bullfighting, Pamplona, Mary royal
Pamplona Cathedra, Navarre, Spain. Romanesque canopy in timber plated with silver over sculpture of St Mary Royal.

The two other features to look for are the numerous gold altarpieces, or reatables to give them their proper names; altarpieces that are placed on the wall behind an altar, and the alabaster effigies of King Carlos III and his wife (1419). Alabaster was used commonly in England but is unusual here.

Pamplona, King carlos
Pamplona Cathedral, alabaster effigies of King Carlos III and Jehan Lomé De Tournai (1419)

Another treat greets the spectator off the South Transept. There are fourteenth century cloisters and various other rooms off them including the great hall. The write up describes them as the most beautiful and preserved in Europe. The scribe may need a trip to Gloucester Cathedral or Magdalen College, Oxford. It is unusual to see such a well preserved Great Hall. The layout of the Oxford Colleges, such as New Hall are so clearly seen in this building at Pamplona.

Pamplona Cathedral, 14th century cloisters.

There was a downside. In 1799 a new classical facade was added, which we have seen examples of earlier in this trip in Zaragoza and Vitoria-Gasteiz – How to ruin a great Gothic building.

Pamplona Cathedral, West Facade, 1799

Pamplona has been a highlight of this trip and although not usually on the tourist agenda for fifty weeks in the year is more than worth it, just for the wonderful streets and tapas.

Ancient street. Pamplona, Navarre, Spain.

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