Medieval building of the Chamber of Accounts was built in XIII century. It is regarded as the only example of civil Gothic architecture in Pamplona and was declared National Monument in 1868. Interior of that building is housing the collections of coins and financial documents of Navarrese monarchs. It was house belonged to noble family firstly but later it was converted to the “Camara de comptos” (Chamber of Accounts). “Camara de comptos” was created in 1365 by the King of Navarre Charles the Bad in order to enforce the control over the Royal finances. MHQ of chamber of accounts was situated in this building from 1524 till 1836. It was reestablished here in 1980 as the regional controlling board for audit of public accounts.
Adress: Calle Ansoleaga 10, 31001, Pamplona
Following on from a dismal day in Pamplona we made our way into the Pyrenees to see Roncesvalles, one of the "official" start points for the "Camino de Santiago" in Spain. The weather was worse here than in Pamplona, adding drizzle and fog to the mix. After warming ourselves with a couple of coffees in the pilgrims refuge, I managed to get 2 photos while my wife held an umbrella over me. This is the Chapel of St Jacques, a gothic building from the 13th c and the "Silo de Carlomagno" an ossuary or charnel house.
Pretty much the whole village is dedicated in some way to St James (Jacques) and the thousands of pilgrims that pass this way every year. The French name for the village is "Roncevaux", the place where Charlemagne was beaten in 778 by the Basque militia. In reality the battleground is not known with exactitude but certainly in one of the valleys near here.
The famous pilgrimage walk of St. James known as the Camino Santiago de Compostela briefly touches the Southern end of Pamplona. You can walk part of the Camino, for example Cezur Minor is only several kilometers away along the Camino. While most pilgrims spend weeks on the Camino, there is a sense of spirituality even walking a few miles.
I know, this tip title seems to be suspiciously like the one for the Monumento a los Caídos, but they are actually for two very different things and no, I am not trying to double up on tips. This is in fact for a very modest monument, one that is so uncontroversial that it doesn't even make it into wikipedia or any of the more detailed guides to the city. It is located at the intersection of calles Navas de Tolosa and Tirajana, at the end of the Paseo de Victoria. The monument is actually quite interesting for two reasons. The first is the dates marked on it: 1872 and 1938, the Second Carlist War and the Civil War, which, in 1938, might have looked like a third Carlist War to some Navarrese supports of the coup, who thought that Franco would restore traditional political structures. The second is the design of this modest monument. The opposite side from the dates has two bas-reliefs that are quite similar to Fascist-era art in Italy, and I would bet that there was at least some Italian influence on the sculptor, and that the monument was erected in the 1930s, given these bas-reliefs and their contrast to the much more austere and classical lines of Franco-era monuments.
The Puente de la Magdalena is a pretty 12th century Romanesque bridge that you are until to happen upon unless you get lost in your car or you walk up from the train station (as I did) and require breaks every 15 minutes or so during the climb. This is a fairly important bridge in that it forms part of the Camino de Santiago, although it is no longer an important transport route for the people of the city. The bridge is a great introduction to the city - in fact, it is older than many of the buildings and other structures in the Casco Viejo, and it provides a bit of perspective on just how old the city is.
The Roncon de Rodín may seem like a quaint, old part of the Casco Antiguo, but don’t be fooled – it was all built in the latter half of the last century. The building here, called the Mesón del Caballo Blanco, was built from the remains of a variety of old buildings. This is really just a café or a restaurant (I’m not sure exactly what they serve, but being Spain they undoubtedly serve some sort of food). It’s actually a really nice quiet area in which to relax after sightseeing. It’s not that the rest of Pamplona is plagued by tourist mobs or hectic traffic, but rather that there is a wonderful breeze and lots of sunlight, which provides a nice change from the crowded streets of the Casco Antiguo.
The Plaza de la Cruz is a fairly large park that is odd if only for its large cross in the centre of the park. It’s true that the park is across from the Parroquía de San Miguel, but that church isn’t really large enough, at least in my view, changes to the entire surrounding area. Given that this is part of the Segundo Ensanche, and, at that, the region that was developed later (i.e. after the Civil War), I think it more likely that the Plaza de la Cruz was probably part of the Fascist urban plan rather than the Republican one. In any case, the park is quite a nice little green space that affords a good rest-stop if you’ve been touring the Segundo Ensanche. The only problem is that this also a favourite place of the city’s indigent, so be aware of your surrounding if you go into the public restroom and make sure to watch your step when you’re in the park, lest you be felled by a bottle.
Every regional capital in Spain has a Delegación del Gobierno, which is sort of like the office of the central government in the city with the task of liaising with the regional authorities. The Delegación del Gobierno en Navarra is sort of funny in that the building in which it is housed had a number of architects, and the changes in architects were generally politically motivated. The building was started in 1934 by a Republican, who changed his plans when the Civil War broke out. Given that Navarre was largely in favour of the Fascists, he was replaced during the War by a Navarrese supporter of Franco, who was eventually replaced by an architect from Madrid, who finished the façade. The building eventually came out of this rapid turnover in 1945 with the same sort of austere Classical style as the Monumento a los Caídos, except with sloping and pointed mansards. Altogether, it helps to reinforce the gloomier aspects of the Segundo Ensanche, and area that should breathe life and leisure like the Ensanches in other Spanish cities.
We made a day trip from Pamplona to
Azpeitia, the home of Ignatius Loyola. Beautiful drive through the Basque countryside. It did take a few hours to get there. Several more hours to eat lunch and wait for the Loyola home to reopen. Not that our Spanish sucked and that waitress did not speak English, but we ordered some fish "con gulas". We had no idea what gulas were, but they sounded innocent enough. They were kind of chewy and not vegetable at all. We later found out they were fake baby eels, made out of fish parts. yummy!
During the day you can watch local Basque wood choppers hack away at their huge log, attempting to be first in group. Armed with two axes where they switch off, they stand on their respective log with both feet together and whack away. They all finish, even if it means the last participant is whacking away 5 minutes after everyone else has finished. Trophies are awarded by old guys. I think they would do better with trophy girls, but these Basques are stubborn. ;-)