I’m sure that most of our Spanish students have heard about the city where people run through the streets ahead of a herd of bulls: Pamplona. The Bull Run is the central event of the Fiesta of San Fermin, that this week is taking place in the beautiful capital of Navarre (Spain). Do you want to know a little bit more about this Fiesta?
In mediaeval times, the bulls were led on foot from the countryside to the public square set up as a bullring. The last stretch was covered at dawn and at running pace in order not to disturb the locals. In Pamplona, this form of entering the city survived the arrival of the railway. Given the impossibility of prohibiting it due to its popularity, the City Council regulated the event in 1867.
Sanfermines starts on July the 6th. The launching of the rocket (chupinazo) announcing the beginning of the festivities is the moment in which the fiesta really burst into life. At 12 o’clock thousands of people congregate in the Plaza Consistorial to attend a relatively modern event which has become one of the most internationally recognised images of the Fiesta of San Fermin.
From 7th to the 14th of July, at 8 am, 2,000 runners on weekdays and almost 3,500 runners at weekends run ahead of a bunch of bulls (most of them carry a rolled-up newspaper to gauge distances with these animals and to incite them, if necessary). They run along 848,6 meters (almost 4 minutes). The longest Bull Run lasted 30 minutes (11th of July 1959), when a Miura bull dropped behind the herd and it was necessary to use a dog to bite it in order to lead it into the corral. Between 200 and 300 people are injured every year, but only 3% of them seriously (unfortunately 14 people have lost their lives in Sanfermines). The most tragic Bull Run took place on 10th of July 1947 and 13th of July 1980 when ‘Semillero’ and ‘Antioquío’ killed two runners apiece.
Did you know that Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) brought international fame to Pamplona’s fiesta? The American writer came to Pamplona for the first time, travelling from Paris, on the 6th of July 1923. This Fiesta made such an impression on him that he chose it as the backdrop to his first successful novel, “The Sun Also Rises”, published three years later. Hemingway returned to the Fiesta of San Fermin eight times after that. His last visit was in 1959, five years after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and two before his suicide in Ketchum (Idaho), on the eve of San Fermin.
Many of the establishments which Hemingway frequented during his visits to the capital of Navarre can still be visited today: Bar Txoko, Hotel La Perla and Café Iruña, all in the Plaza del Castillo, and Hotel Yoldi, the bullfighters’ hotel.
If you want to enjoy this Fiesta, we really recommend you to learn some Spanish with us, so you can handle in Pamplona during those amazing nine days.