Pamplona is a popular stop-off on The Way of St James. The history of the city of Pamplona is rooted in antiquity. The city is assumed to have taken its name from the Roman general Pompey, who founded it in his war against the founder of Huesca, General Sertorius in 75-74 BC.
The city has had a rather confused history. Until the 10th century it was plagued by invading groups. First, the Visigoths: later a struggle between Moors and Franks.
The battles left Pamplona a poor and downtrodden community. Constant pressure from invaders meant it became more of a fortress than a city.
The 11th century marked a turning point for the city’s prosperity, aided in part by the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims would stop in the city for shelter and food, boosting the trade and economic fortunes of the area.
Its days of invasion and occupation were not over. The city was occupied in both the Napoleonic and Carlist Wars.
Pamplona’s military history creates an interesting urban aesthetic. A walled city with an expanding population gave town planners and architects one option: high density, tall buildings. If you can’t build out, you build up. Pamplona’s streets are shadowed by high buildings creating a unique feel to the city.