encierro bull running monument Pamplona Navarra Spain

How did the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona become famous?

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Every year Pamplona hosts the Festival of San Fermín that is world famous thanks to its bull running and bull fighting described by Ernest Hemingway.

Lost Generation

“You are all a lost generation.”

This sentence opens one of the most important literature work of the twentieth century, “The Sun also rises” by Ernest Hemingway. The author attributes the phrase to Gertrude Stein, the patron who hosted Hemingway in his Parisian salon, together with artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henry Matisse.

Park Arch Water Pamplona Raimbow Navarra Spain

“The Sun also rises” describes the generation born between 1883 and 1900. A generation that went through the World War One and then felt disoriented. In the novel, the indolent lost generation contrasts with the vitality of Pamplona.

Town hall chupinazo ayuntamiento Pamplona Navarra Spain

Now Pamplona is one of the famous place for city trip in Spain. The city, also known by the Basque name of Iruña, is the capital of the Navarre region and one of the most charming Spanish towns. Pamplona hosts the San Fermín festival that becomes popular thanks to the splendid description given in the novel.

Church gothic Pamplona Navarra Spain

The San Fermín Festival

The San Fermín festival takes place every year from midday on July 6n to midnight on July 14. According to the legend, Fermín was the son of Firmus, a Roman senator in the administration of Pamplona. Firmus converted to Christianity and his son Fermín became a bishop. In this role Fermín went to Amiens, where he was martyred. It is thought that he was beheaded during the great persecutions against Christians promoted by the emperor Diocletian in 303.

Building Red Windows Pamplona Navarra Spain

The festival was born at the end of the Middle Ages as a trade fair. The celebrations of Navarre’s co-patron San Fermín were held in the fall. Trade fairs soon became an excuse to party and attendees began organizing bullfighting. The religious event joined the commercial one on July 7, 1591. The proclamation of the feast, a lance tournament and a theatrical comedy about the life of San Fermín were held that day. The next day the bullfight was held.

Church San Nicola de Bari Pamplona Navarra Spain

Today, the festival begins at noon on 6 July with the launch of a firework rocket from the Pamplona City Hall, perhaps the most beautiful palace in the city. The ceremony is called “chupinazo”.

Royal and General archive of Navarra Pamplona Spain

In 1964, the rocket was launched by the Minister of Information and Tourism Manuel Fraga. Generally, the person who launches the rocket is a member of the city administration and pronounces the formula “Pamploneses, Pamplonesas, ¡Viva san Fermín! Gora san Fermin! “.

Palace of congress Baluarte Jauregia Pamplona Navarra Spain

Encierro (bull running)

On 7 July the procession takes place where the statue of San Fermín is carried. The procession is accompanied by songs and dances in which the giants also participate. The parades of the gigantes y cabezudos (giants and big-heads) take place in Pamplona that is similar to the one in the city of Lleida.

Monument to the fueros Pamplona Navarra Spain
Encierro starting bull running area Pamplona Navarra Spain

The giants that are 4 meters high were built in 1860 and depict 4 pairs of kings and queens from different parts of the world. The parades of the giants take place every day of the festival.

Encierro Sculpture memorial running bull Pamplona Navarra Spain

The Encierro is the most famous event of the San Fermín festival. Every day at 8 am, a firecracker signals the start of the 875-meter-long race. Among the small streets that form the historic center of Pamplona, ​​6 bulls run after a crowd of young people heading to the plaza de toros (bullring).

Historical centre street Pamplona Navarra Spain

The crazy and dangerous ride takes about 3 minutes. Six oxen of white or brown color, together with some shepherds recognizable by their green t-shirts, lead the bulls in the race.

Plaza de Toros Bullring Pamplona Navarra Spain

Inside the plaza de toros, bullfighting takes place at 6 pm during which the bullfighters kill the 6 bulls that ran in the morning. Every night, fireworks light up the sky.

Painting bullring plaza de toros Pamplona Navarra Spain

history of Ernest Hemingway in Pamplona

Ernest Hemingway attended the San Fermín festival for three years, between 1923 and 1925. At that time, he was working as a correspondent in Paris for the Canadian newspaper Toronto Star. He visited Pamplona together with his first wife Hadley Richardson. In 1923 the couple traveled alone, instead in 1924 and 1925 the couple were accompanied by groups of friends.

Building Flag Street Pamplona Navarra Spain

In particular, in 1925 the couple traveled with a group of British or US expatriates. The group of writers and socialites soon fell apart due to mutual jealousies. Hemingway and Harold Loeb punched each other in public because they were both jealous of the same woman, their traveling companion Duff Twysden. Back in Paris, the American writer had enough materials to write his first novel.

Diana Goddess Hunt Pamplona Navarra Spain

The Sun also rises

The story tells of a group trip to Pamplona during the San Fermín festival. The protagonist Jake cannot have sex due to injuries sustained during the First World War. But Jake is in love with Brett, an emancipated English woman who has numerous lovers. Brett matches real-life Duff.

Pamplona wave garden grass Navarra Spain

Jake knows that his love for her is impossible but he can’t break away from his beloved. Brett begins a relationship with Romero, a much younger bullfighter than her. Brett’s lover has a fight with Romero, just before one of the bullfighter’s performances. Despite his injuries, the young bullfighter will perform flawlessly.

Calle Street Redin Arch Pamplona Navarra Spain

The book always seems on the verge of ending in a tragic way for Romero. In fact, Hemingway considers the bullfighter as the true hero of the novel, the man who challenges death in front of everyone, in a precise and coherent context. The writer admires its courage and vitality.

The Claretians Missionaries Corazon Maria Casa Pamplona Navarra Spain

In Hemingway’s eyes, the Spaniards become real and living people who are opposed to the bohemian expatriates of Paris. According to the American writer, the English-speaking patrons who populate the Latin Quarter of Paris live in a hypocritical way. Hemingway therefore presents the Latin Quarter as a corrupt and depraved place that carries with it the disillusionment and frustration of the “lost generation”.

There is also a movie based on the book “The sun also rises” made in 1957.

See/Buy “The sun also rises”: Amazon Prime | Apple TV | Google Play

Cathedral Santa Maria la Real Pamplona Navarra Spain

Written by Enrico, Translated by Hua and Photo from Hua

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