One thing I’ve always loved about Pamplona is the abundance of green spaces. For most people, La Taconera is the one that stands out as the most charming. It is Pamplona’s oldest park, first appearing on city plans in 1719. With its gardens, flowerbeds, crisscrossing paths, animals and fountains, it’s always been a peaceful and romantic place. Situated between the old town and the modern barrio of San Juan, this vast green space is made of three main sections; Parque de Larraina, Jardines de la Taconera and Parque Antoniutti.
Parque Antoniutti is a green triangular area where you’ll often find joggers, groups of rollerbladers and skaters passing by in the evening. There are skateboard ramps at one side of the park, close to the children’s play area which also makes it a popular place for families. This area surrounds Los Jardines de la Taconera where swans roam the ponds while peacocks, rabbits and dear run freely in the depths of what used to be a moat. The Parque de Larraina section of the park sits on top of Pamplona’s plateau, overlooking the suburbs and surrounding mountains. The views from here are beautiful, especially for the sunset.
There are two very unique portals in La Taconera; El Portal de la Taconera, which can be found in Parque Antoniutti and El Portal de San Nicolás, which is at the main entrance of Los Jardines de la Taconera. These two historical arches are identical and both have a very distinct feature; at the top of each arch you’ll see an extremely rare version of the Spanish coat of arms which includes the Portuguese shield. This is because Portugal and Spain were once united in the Iberian Union (1580-1640) and ruled by Spanish Hapsburg kings. In 1640 there was a revolt in Portugal against Spanish rule which then led to the two nations fighting each other in the Portuguese restoration war (1640-1668). These portals are said to have been made in 1666, during that war, in which Portugal claimed to be an independent kingdom while Spain refused to recognise its independence. This coat of arms, with its Portuguese shield, is an extremely rare historical remnant of that time – a lost and forgotten symbol of the Iberian Union.
Very close to this rarity are two quaint cafes, El Bosquecillo and Café Vienés. Tucked away between the tree-lined paths, under a Japanese maple tree, you’ll find Café Vienés. With its art-deco Vienna-style interior, having a relaxing cup of café con leche here feels like travelling back in time to the 1920s. El Bosquecillo (the little forest), which is opposite El Portal de San Nicolás, was always my favourite of the two though, perhaps because it was closest to my flat. Whatever it is, I always liked the vibe here, especially during those winter evenings when it was warm inside and the outdoor terrace was not a great option. The artwork on the walls as well as the music they play here would always be something a little alternative and worldly. Whichever you prefer, both of these cafes are quite similar, two cosy octagonal huts in Pamplona’s oldest and most beloved park.
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