The city of Pamplona, Spain is located in the province of Navarra (which was a one-time kingdom unto itself). While Navarra (including Pamplona) was free of the Moorish occupation that Spain’s southern provinces endured before and during portions of the Middle Ages, periodic battles for control of Pamplona took place (including Sancho III – the King of Pamplona – dominating the Basque region during the 11th century). Pamplona and the rest of Navarra province would later be annexed to the Crown of Castile in 1515.
Subsequent kings of Spain would also carry the title “king of Navarre” (until 1833). During that period, Navarre enjoyed a special status within the Spanish monarchy — it had its own cortes, taxation system, and separate customs laws. In 1833, Navarre became the chief stronghold of the Carlists but recognized Isabella II as queen in 1839. As a reward for their loyalty in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Spanish dictator Francisco Franco allowed the Navarrese to maintain their ancient fueros, which were charters handed down by the crown outlining a system of self-government.
Navarra has traditionally been one of the most politically right-wing, socially conservative and religiously ultra-Catholic parts of Spain (Pamplona being a source of the Opus Dei religious movement), and this has set it against its slightly more liberal neighbors in industrialized Euskadi (Basque country) at several points in modern history – particularly during the 19th century Carlist Wars, during the Spanish Civil War, and at the time of the re-establishment of democracy after Franco’s death, where Basques of the two regions found themselves fighting on different sides. The fact that the Navarrese supported Franco (betting that this would give them the best chance of maintaining their autonomy) certainly didn’t help relationships between Euskadi and Navarra.
Despite a large Basque presence in Pamplona and surrounding Navarra province, it is not caught up with the on-and-off Basque movement for independence from Spain (which has manifested itself in recent decades in an underground campaign by the ETA Basque separatist group, especially within the nearby Basque country).
With tourism becoming a major part of Spain’s overall financial development, Pamplona has staked its claim to portions of that economy through the promotion of the San Fermín fiestas held there every July (that typically attract throngs of tourists and accompanying revenue). Pamplona’s major tourist-friendly event, the annual running of the bulls (held during the Festival of San Fermín every July) was made famous by the American writer Ernest Hemingway, who detailed it in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.