Europe, Spain

Aragon and Navarra: The Pyrenees, Pamplona, Olite…

No Comments 24 August 2010

Aragon and Navarra: The Pyrenees, Pamplona, Olite…

During his 1996 journey through much of Spain, the Monkey spent a few pleasant days in the regions of Aragon and Navarra in the country’s north. Somewhat atypically, this post stretches from royal palaces to U.S. novelists to avalanche warnings.

Avalanche warning, Ordesa National Park, Aragon, Spain
Exploring Aragon, the Monkey ended up in the Ordesa National Park. Designated as a national park in 1918, Ordesa incorporates the forests and foothills of the Pyrenees, as well as the soaring, 3,355 meter massif of the Monte Perdido (the Lost Mountain). Here, the Monkey pauses for a shot by a sign that warns, “Attention! Very dangerous trail. Risk of avalanche.” The Monkey pushed on for a while, treading lightly as he went (luckily the heavy snows were over for that year).

Ordesa National Park, Aragon, Spain
In Aragon’s Ordesa National Park, the Monkey sits by a stream of melted snow rushing down from the Pyrenean peaks. You can see the sheer cliffs of the high mountains in the top right corner.

Palacio de los Reyes, Olite, Navarra, Spain
Navarra was historically a region of the Basques, who successfully resisted the Moorish conquest from the South and the Franks’ conquest from the North. The Basque-dominated Navarra passed into the control of the French royals in the 15th Century, and not until 1839, when the its people recognized Isabella II as queen, did Navarra become firmly incorporated into the Kingdom of Spain.

In one of his favorite photos, the Monkey sits atop the Palacio de los Reyes de Navarra de Olite, from whence Navarra’s kings once ruled. This fanciful castle, found in pleasant Olite, has French architectural nuances that date from reconstruction following a fire in 1813, although the castle’s foundations date to Roman times.

Bullring, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
The Monkey visits Pamplona’s bullring, the scene of much bloodshed and a focal point of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece, The Sun Also Rises. Pamplona is the capital of Navarra, and each year plays host to the San Fermines Festival (which includes the famous “Running of the Bulls”), so aptly brought to life in Hemingway’s novel.

Hemingway statue, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
The Monkey sits by a monument to U.S. novelist Ernest Hemingway, who frequented Pamplona’s famous fiesta. The damaged plaque reads, in part:

“Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize for Literature Winner, Friend of this City, and Admirer of its Festivals.”

The rest of the plaque thanks Hemingway for his contribution to promoting Pamplona and its Fiesta de San Fermin.

This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1171 times since the 2010 website relaunch.



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40,491,052 (2008)

Land area:

499,542 sq. km.


Madrid (pop. 2,947,228; 2005)


In 2006, Spain ranked 21st in the UNDP Human Development Index and 9th in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $28,107.74. Public debt accounts for 36.2 percent of total GDP, while 19.8 percent of Spaniards are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):

Spanish, with significant Catalan, Galician and Euskadi-speaking populations

Monkey's name:

El Mono (El Moh-noh)

Fun fact:

The Spanish maintain a dispute over British control of Gibraltar, which they contend is an extension of the Spanish territory. And yet the Spanish remain unwilling to cede two similar territories across the Straits of Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla, to the Moroccans. All three territories are proof that old empires die hard.

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