Throughout my travels in Spain thus far I have been traveling through Basque Country, in Navarra. Here is a brief history on the region:
Navarra, a French and Spanish influenced culture, is a mountainous region in the northeast region of Spain. The main languages of this region are Spanish and Basque. This region of Spain has various small medieval villages, is mountainous, has various valleys, vineyards, and many green pasture areas. Navarra used to be controlled by the Roman Empire and thus was originally inhabited by the Vascones, mostly in the northern mountainous regions like the Pyrenees. The Vascones, a pre-Roman tribe, have definitely left their romanesque mark throughout the region.
One can see the Vascone’s impact in many of the Roman-influenced buildings and aqueducts throughout Navarra. Historically, the southern region of Navarra is a place that various Muslims resided in. The Muslim’s conquest in Spain was in 711 AD, the Christians, however, over the next 700 years worked on pushing the Muslims out of Spain in the Spanish Reconquest. Pamplona is now the region’s capital and this city played a large role in the Reconquest of Spain. Pamplona is now famous for the Running of the Bulls, a festival that takes place in the city streets. Passing through Pamplona was so interesting, especially knowing that authors including Hemingway once walked the same streets in Spain.
There are many medieval villages, castles, and fortresses throughout Navarra because of Navarra’s location. As a border of France, Navarra has various monumental buildings and defenses, however, many of these buildings were destroyed in various fights, including the Spanish Reconquest. The Kingdom of Navarra is considered to be one of the most historically Christian regions in Spain. Navarra’s culture is extremely diverse. From Navarra’s famous wine to their midday naps called siestas, their bull runs in Pamplona, and their various religious carnivals and holidays, this all contributes to Navarra’s unique French and Spanish influenced society.
In meeting various individuals from Navarra I have found that they are kind, generous, and hospitable individuals. For example, when I lost in Pamplona on the Camino various kind individuals took the time to guide me in the correct direction. Even the locals in the small towns that I passed through when walking on the Camino would never fail to smile and wish me a “Buen Camino”.
I definitely noticed that Navarra is extremely different than Madrid. Madrid, a large, somewhat modern city was not as intimate as quaint, scenic Navarra. Though the individuals I met in Madrid were kind, those throughout Navarra seemed to be more laid back and approachable. In Madrid, the culture of late nights, loud noises, and tapas was overwhelming for me, and can be contrasted to Navarra’s beautiful mountain ranges, quiet countrysides, and high quality wine and food. I loved the time spent in Madrid, but it was too fast paced for me, the small medieval towns, mountains, rolling hills, and fields of Navarra are more desirable to me. The time spent in Navarra was wonderful and I cannot wait to return to this gorgeous region of Spain in the future. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and Love.