Ernest Hemingway

Up until just a few decades ago, Pamplona wasn't even on the tourist trail and Los Sanfermines was just another local tradition- needless to say, a far cry from the internationally famous city and festival we know today. The once unheard of festival's turning point can be largely attributed to one person: American writer Ernest Hemingway. So how did this literary giant find himself in the small, unknown city of Pamplona?

At the time, Hemingway was part of a community of literary expatriates, such as Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and John Steinbeck, living in Paris in the years following World War I. As he traveled to Spain from France in 1923, he made a stop in Pamplona that would change his life. He arrived at the height of Los Sanfermines and was immediately drawn into the hyped atmosphere, the thrilling Running of the Bulls, the tradition-laden bullfights, the abundant food and drink and the jovial locals who accepted him as one of their own.

His first experience with the festival, together with the city and its people, made such an impression on him that he came back another eight times and made Pamplona the backdrop to his first major novel, The Sun Also Rises. The semi-autobiographical novel delves into the lives and values of young people coming of age during the years of World War I and the Great Depression, otherwise known as the "lost generation". The plot involves a group of Americans traveling around France and Spain following World War I. The novel's most climactic scenes take place during Los Sanfermines in Pamplona, where the group eventually ends up.

The attention garnered by the publication of the wildly popular novel brought international fame to the small city and its beloved celebration, which became one of the world's most famous festivals practically overnight. Since Hemingway, numerous other famous figures, not to mention thousands of curious tourists, have visited Pamplona and experienced this one-of-a-kind festival.

For you literary buffs, you can follow the Hemingway tourist trail. While several establishments have succumbed to the passing of time, many of Ernest Hemingway's favorite nooks - such as Hotel La Perla, Café Iruña and Bar Txoko - are still around. Pamplona's most famous adopted son, who is remembered as having lived the festival to the very fullest, even has a monument dedicated to him, fittingly right near the city's bullring.