Citadel of Pamplona

Pamplona, Spain

The Citadel of Pamplona is an old military renaissance fort, constructed between the 16th and 17th centuries. At present a large part of the fort it is still standing in a public park with cultural activities taking place in its buildings.

Philip II of Spain ordered his construction in 1571, following a plan for renovation and general reinforcement of the city walls. The defensive system was built in line with the theory of the Italian Renaissance which had been put into practice shortly before in the city of Antwerp. It was an enclosure in the shape of five-pointed star. All the possible angles of attack were controlled from each point of the star shaped border. 

The fortress was reinforced with exterior 'half moons' in 1685 and in the first half of the 18th century, which reinforced the defensive system.

The citadel of Pamplona has not suffered significant defensive attacks. It has therefore rarely been besieged, although it has been taken. On February 16, 1808, Napoléon's French army under the command of General D’Armagnac, who by the treaty of Fontainebleau with King Charles IV, was allowed to cross the Iberian Peninsula for the Invasion of Portugal. With a strategic ambush, he invaded the city. His troops entered on February 9, 1808 through the San Nicolás gateway. The officers stayed in the nobles houses of the city and the rest of the soldiers, up to 4,000, were stationed in different areas. This situation was tense, which lead to a street brawl resulting in one of the soldiers being stabbed to death. In the increasingly hostile environment, Napoleon ordered D'Armagnac to take over the city. The plan was to take advantage of a snowstorm on February 16 when French soldiers approached the city playing snowball games in front of the defenders. When they were near, they took out the weapons they had hidden in their clothes and managed to enter and take over the city.

In 1823 the liberal soldiers offered greater resistance for five months before the army of the Hundred Thousand Sons of St. Louis. The intention was to besiege it, without taking it, to prevent the departure of the soldiers, while the rest of the army went all over the peninsula to restore absolutism. Subsequently, on September 3, they began bombing the city of Pamplona. On September 16, after another heavy bombing, they surrendered.

During the Spanish Civil War, the rebels carried out numerous executions of Republicans at the Socorro Gate amid the Spanish Civil War, through a very harsh repression in Navarre. A plaque was placed in his memory in 2007 that was replaced in March 2012 by a monolith with the same text in the area of the moats near the street, Socorro Gate. The inscription, in Spanish and Basque, reads as follows:

In 1964, the town of Pamplona was no longer used by the military. The military part of Pamplona was turned into a popular park (known in Spanish as La Planta de la Ciudadela) with the old military buildings being used for cultural events. Some buildings located in the inner section of the park are preserved. These historic military buildings were taken care of after the city received the fortified enclosure that surrounds the park.



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Founded: 1571
Category: Castles and fortifications in Spain

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User Reviews

Jane Tingay (10 months ago)
It was nice to wonder around. Amazing how the council has kept it so clean. We were a bit early for the exhibitions.
Marland Thomas (11 months ago)
Beautiful and peaceful it's a unique opportunity to see one of the greenest cities in Spain. It's close to lots of spots for eating and hanging with friends.
Rebecca L. (12 months ago)
Free and great place to walk! You can walk in, through and around the citadel which provides tunnels, views and nice exercise. You get a good sense for the history of the place. I especially enjoyed seeing all the dogs :)
A D'Souza (14 months ago)
Such a gorgeous park! We had a lovely evening walking around this establishment and really liked how it was free and open to the public so that everyone can enjoy! It is well preserved and the perfect place to unwind.
Daniel Fg (15 months ago)
Outstanding example of military architecture. Perfectly preserved and turned into a public park.
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