Navarra Spain – Maps, History, and Culture

Last Updated:

Interactive Map of Navarra, Spain

Navarra Map Links:

Navarra, Spain is a landlocked region that is located in northern Spain and surrounded by the Basque Country to the west, La Rioja to the south, Aragon to the south and east, and France to the north. Navarra, Spain is approximately 4,000 square miles in size, making it the 7th smallest region in Spain.

City List:

  • Puente de la Reina
  • Olite
  • Estella
  • Tudela
  • Roncesvalles
  • Elizondo
  • Elgorriaga

Quick Facts:

  • Population: 650,000
  • Languages: Spanish, Basque, Castilian
  • Ethnicities: Basque, Castilian, Aragonese
  • Capital: Pamplona

The History of Navarra, Spain

The geography of Navarra, Spain played a major role during the Roman era of the 2nd Century BC. When the Romans invaded the region during this time, the original inhabitants called the Vascones retreated north into the mountains, where the Romans could not conquer.

The Romans stayed to the south, where the terrain was more manageable. The Vascones eventually became what is known as the Basque people today.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD, the Vascones once again returned to their native area of Navarra. This time, the Vascones were able to conquer the area by defeating the Frankish Army in 778 AD. In 824 AD, a Basque chief was named King of Pamplona. This was the beginning of the Kingdom of Navarra, and it was ruled by King Sancho III.

King Sancho III died in 1035, and the kingdom was split between his two sons. The kingdom originally contained the Basque Country; however, in 1200, Navarra lost the Basque Country to the Crown of Castile, leaving the region landlocked.

In 1515, after Navarra was invaded by King Ferdinand and the Crown of Aragon and Castile, Navarra was annexed to Castile. The region, though annexed into Castile, maintained much of its independent status.

Essentially, the region was somewhat status quo for the most part. While the region was part of Castile, Navarra was able to maintain much of its laws and establishments for the next 300 years.

In 1833, under the territorial division of Spain, provinces were established as historical regions. Because of this, Navarra was able to return to its once-independent region, out from under the control of the region of Castile.

There was a large presence of Carlists in the region after the succession of Queen Isabella II. The Salic Law of Succession determined that the crown of Spain must go to the patriarchal lineage if it is present.

King Ferdinand of Spain had a brother, Don Carlos, who felt he was entitled to the crown, but Ferdinand banished him from Spain and revoked the Salic Law of Succession. By revoking the law, Ferdinand’s daughter from his fourth marriage was awarded the crown of Spain after his death in 1833.

Carlists believed that Don Carlos was entitled to the crown of Spain; thus, began the Carlist Wars. By 1872, the Third Carlist War began where the Navarra city of Estella was its capital. King Alfonso XII was able to defeat the Carlists in the region and restored Spanish unification within Navarra.

The Spanish Civil War began in the 1930s, with Spain divided between Nationalists and Republicans. Nationalists supported the Catholic Monarchy’s control in Spain, while Republicans supported the Spanish Republic’s control in Spain. Navarra supported the Spanish Republic and was allowed to keep its autonomy during General Franco’s dictatorship. When Franco died in 1975, Navarra suffered from terrorist attacks from the ETA, a leftist Basque organization that killed many throughout its existence.

Finally, after the Constitution of the Spanish Democracy of 1978, Navarra was established as an autonomous territory and saw its official autonomy declared on August 10, 1982.


Castilian Spanish is the primary language of the region, including central and northern Spain. Castilian Spanish describes the traditional Spanish that we hear spoken throughout Spain today.

Basque is also heard spoken throughout the region because of the Vascones that once lived in the area. The Vascones, now called Basques, spoke the native language of Basque, which can still be heard today.


Roman Catholicism is the primary religion that is practiced throughout Navarra, Spain. During the Muslim Invasion in Spain beginning in the 700s AD, Islam was prevalent throughout many of the regions in eastern and southern Spain; however, the Muslims were never able to push as far north as they wanted to because of the rugged mountains in the northern regions.

Therefore, the northern regions were able to both maintain their Roman Catholic faith, as well as serve as a refuge for Christians who fled the Muslim Invasion from the south. Because of this, Roman Catholicism is still practiced today as the primary religion in the region.


The Pyrenees mountains stretch across the region of Navarra. This mountain range creates steep cliffs and served as a shelter for inhabitants of the region throughout history. When the Romans invaded the Vascones, they stayed in the northern area of the region and were able to salvage many of their people. During the Muslim Invasion, Christians fled to the mountains in the north that served as a refuge for Christians escaping the invasion.

The southern region of Navarra is filled with plains and river basins that allow for various types of agriculture to exist. This is known as the Ebro River Valley. There are milk, wool, wheat, grapes, tomatoes, and corn all grown throughout the valleys of the region.


The culture of Navarra, Spain is rooted deeply in its people; specifically, the Basque people. The Vascones were the first major tribe that lived in the region, and they are known as the Basques today. It is common to hear the native Basque language spoken in Navarra, especially in the rural mountains in the north.

There are many festivals held throughout the year in Navarra. These festivals range from religious to medieval to musical, and anywhere in between. If there is a reason to celebrate it, Navarra will host it.

Immigration & Migration Patterns

During both the Carlist Wars and the Spanish Civil War, the Navarra region was left in destruction. Much of the area was impoverished and ruined by attacks in the region. This caused many residents of Navarra to be left without a job. Therefore, many inhabitants of the region fled to other regions with better opportunities. Some people stayed within Spain while others searched abroad for better opportunities.

Those who left the country entirely chose to take advantage of the many opportunities that had presented themselves in the New World. When coming to the New World, the most common regions that natives from Navarra chose to settle were the southern United States, Central and South America, and the eastern Caribbean islands.


Because emigrants left Navarra during the 1800 and 1900s and settled in the western world, the Navarra heritage is likely present in those who live in the southern United States (Florida, Louisiana, Texas), Central America, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Spanish emigrants also migrated to the eastern Caribbean countries of Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Some Navarra emigrants stayed within Spain yet migrated to more wealthy regions, such as Madrid, Castilla y Leon, and Castilla la Mancha, before repatriating back to Navarra when the economy was recovered.

Caleb Pike
About the author

Caleb Pike is an avid hiker and nature lover, with a passion for exploring the great outdoors. He's a writer, photographer, and adventurer, always seeking new trails to blaze and peaks to conquer.