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Cultural life

Wealth and variety

María Bayo

The soprano María Bayo.

Despite being a small community in terms of surface area and population, Navarre currently enjoys a rich and varied cultural life. The cultural offer consists of the activities organised by universities, local authorities, a host of public and semi-public bodies, and by private entities, which have a bearing on the development of music, art, the Basque language, literature, publishing, theatre and audiovisual media.

One institution, the Institución Principe de Viana, which is responsible for the cultural activities of the Government of Navarre, is involved mainly in the field of preserving and restoring the monumental and documentary heritage, in publications, in the network of museums and public libraries and in cultural dissemination.


Interior of the Church in the Monastery of Leyre.

Half a century of systematic progress in the restoration and preservation of the artistic heritage now allows for the contemplation of such exceptional sites as Olite Castle, the cathedrals in Pamplona and Olite, the ramparts encircling Artajona and the monasteries of Leyre, La Oliva, Iranzu, Irache and Tulebras, or the collegiate church of Roncesvalles.

In addition, the length and breadth of Navarre is dotted with myriad palaces, convents, churches, civil buildings, organs, altarpieces, paintings and silver and gold ornamentation.


Major investment has been made in recent years in order to improve and enrich the cultural infrastructures. Accordingly, since 2003 Navarre boasts “El Baluarte”, an Auditorium and Congress Hall that stands in the heart of the city of Pamplona.

Furthermore, since 2003, the work of Jorge Oteiza, one of the 20th centuries leading exponents of the plastic arts, is on display in the eponymous Museum Foundation, built according to a project by the architect Francisco Sáenz de Oiza in the town of Alzuza, near Pamplona, where the artist had his workshop-cum-home.

In addition,  the Palace of the Kings of Navarre, located on Pamplona’s northern ramparts, has house the Royal and General Archive of Navarre, according to a project by the architect Rafael Moneo.

This Comunidad Foral also features an extensive network of libraries and museums, with the highlights being the Museum of Navarre in Pamplona, Ethnology in Irache, the Diocesan in Pamplona and Sacred Art in Corella, as well as the Gustavo de Maeztu in Estella.

Festivals, symposia and competitions

Regarding those activities of cultural dissemination sponsored by the Government of Navarre, special mention should be made of the Olite Festival of Classic Theater, the weeks of Ancient Music and Medieval Studies in Estella, as well as the Judaic Symposia in Tudela.

Also noteworthy, furthermore, are the competitions organised by the Institución Principe de Viana: the “Julian Gayarre” in bel canto, “Pablo Sarasate” in violin, in sculpture and painting, as well as prizes for literary creation and those awarded annually to mark the Punto de Vista Documentary Film Festival. Cultural life is further expanded through the courses and exhibitions held in the forty cultural venues operating in the main towns and cities.


The Symphony Orchestra of Navarre, the Philharmonic Society of Pamplona, the Pamplona Orfeón (Choral Society), “La Pamplonesa” brass band, the Chamber Choir and the Music Chapel in the Cathedral are all flagship institutions in the field of music, not forgetting either the council or private music schools that supply the students for the classrooms of the Pablo Sarasate Music Conservatory.

Government of Navarre

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