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The area near Pamplona dates back to Roman times, but not much is known about this period of the city’s history. It is thought that the name comes from the Roman general Pompey, but other information about Pamplona's connection to the Roman Empire is only vaguely known. In 409 AD, the Visigoths invaded and toppled the Romans. Spain was ruled by Christian Goth kings until the 700s, when the Moors took control of the Iberian Penninsula. However, the northernmost parts of Spain, the mountains near Pamplona, were relatively untouched and remained Christian.
The Reconquista , the period in which Christian Visigoths reclaimed Spain, began after the first milennium and lasted for several centuries. Castille and Aragon became the dual centers of Christian power, and in the 15th century Ferdinand and Isabella married and combined the two kingdoms. Their accomplishments included banishing Jews from Spain during the Inquisition, and reclaiming the southernmost part of Spain from the Moors. In the 16th century Christian Spanish monarchs used Pamplona as a fortress during wars with France. Two centuries later, France would occupy the city during the Napoleonic Wars.
Today Pamplona is a starting point or a stopover point for many modern pilgrimages to northern and western Spain. Such religious journeys were common in medieval times, but pilgrims continue to roam Pamplona and the Navarre region today. The publication of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises drew worldwide attention to the Running of the Bulls and Pamplona's annual Festival of San Fermín. Today the Running of the Bulls is one of the most popular summer tourist events in all of Europe.