Pamplona (Basque: Iruña) is situated in the North of Spain. It is the capital of the fiercely independent Navarra, at times it can seem a bit austere, partly because of the dark stonework of its older buildings and partly because of a lingering reputation of Navarran reactionary politics. Yet Pamplona is the home of Los Sanfermines (Fiesta de San Fermín) one of the most riotous and extreme festivals in Europe. At the heart of the festival is El Encierro, the Running of the Bulls, an activity that many other countries would have banned years ago, because of the perceived cruelty to animals and danger to people. All this apart, Pamplona is fascinating at any time. The beautiful cathedral is the jewel in the crown and there is much to enjoy by simply wander along narrow streets or relax in the vast green belt on the western edge of the inner city. Pamplona’s bars and restaurants have a growing reputation for superb pintxos (pinchos), and a healthy Basque culture among young people enlivens things.