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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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