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Navarre Travel Guide

Bardenas Reales, Navarre (© Argonautis - Fotolia.com)
Bardenas Reales, Navarre.

Introduction

Spreading south of the western Pyrenees, Navarre (Navarra in Spanish, Nafarroa in Basque) is the largest portion of the greater Basque Country, which also include the autonomous community of the same name, and the French Basque Country. It was named after the Kingdom of Navarre, which originally comprised all the greater Basque Country. The southern part of the kingdom was conquered by the Crown of Castile in 1512, and thus became part of the unified Kingdom of Spain. The northern part of the kingdom remained independent, and in 1589 King Henry III of Navarre inherited the French throne as Henry IV of France. In 1620, northern Navarre was permanently incorporated to France to this day.

Navarre is the third least populated autonomous community in continental Spain, with merely 640,000 inhabitants, a third of whom living in the capital Pamplona. Its GRP per capita (PPP) is, however, the second highest after the Basque Country, and similar to that of Germany.

The region's green, forested and mountainous north contrasts with the flatter and arid south, famous for the surreal, semi-desert landscapes of the Bardenas Reales Natural Park. The northern part of the community is largely Basque-speaking, while the southern part is entirely Spanish-speaking. The capital, Pamplona, is bilingual.

Famous people from Navarre include (chronologically): the neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Nobel Prize, dubbed the father of modern neuroscience), and the road racing cyclist Miguel Indurain.

Cuisine

Navarran cuisine is similar to that of the Basque Country, apart from the paucity of seafood. Culinary specialties include trout à la Navarra (cooked stuffed with bacon and cheese), piquillo peppers (stuffed with meat), vegetable stews, and in the southern town of Tudela lettuce hearts with anchovies or salmon. The local liquor is the patxaran, which is flavoured with sloe.

Attractions

North & Centre

Palacio Real de Olite
Palacio Real de Olite (© Salva G Cubells - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Palacio Real de Olite
Pamplona (Iruña)
San Fermin Festival, Pamplona (© sedat saatcioglu - Fotolia.com)
very good Pamplona

Other attractions

very good Monastery of Leyre

South

Bardenas Reales
Castil de Tierra, Bardenas Blancas (© Grazia RUH - Fotolia.com)
must-see Bardenas Reales
Tudela
New tower and St. Ann Chapel, Tudela's Cathedral (© idrive - Fotolia.com)
very good Tudela

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Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
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Natural attractions

  • : Moderately interesting
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  • : Highly recommended
  • : World-class natural attraction
  • ※ : UNESCO World Heritage site


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