Villava (Atarrabia in Euskera) is a Spanish city and municipality located in the Autonomous Community of Navarra, in the Pamplona district, in the Pamplona basin, 4km North-East of the Community Capital, Pamplona, forming part of its metropolitan area. In 2013, its population was 10,308 inhabitants (INE) and its municipality had a surface area of 1.06 km², making it the smallest in Navarra and its population density very high.


Local historians have long debated the town’s name (or denomination) before Villava was founded by Sancho VI The Wise. For some, the locality’s ancient name was Atarrabia, but this is just a hypothesis that has never been proved with archaeological or documentary evidence. The name’s meaning and origin are unknown, although it seems to come from the Euskera (Basque) language.
Some linguists believe that the name could come from the word “ate” (narrow pass), “Arre” (the name of a neighbouring town) and “ibia” (a ford). Near Villava, and in order to reach the nearby town of Arre, is a narrow passage where the Ultzama River becomes wedged that could hint at the name Atarrabia, which could be translated as “ford at the narrow pass to Arre”. There is no consensus regarding this, so at this point the meaning of Atarrabia is pure speculation. However, the Navarra Local Jurisdiction (written up mid-12th
 century) refers to the Puente de la Trinidad (Trinity Bridge) as the “Puente de Atarrabia” (Atarrabia Bridge).
In the 12th
 century, King Sancho VI The Wise founded the town of Atarrabia, a town he gave jurisdiction over the new burg of Pamplona. As was the custom at the time, the King gave the town its name and decided on Villa Noua (Villa Nueva). It is, therefore, considered a romance name, similar to those of many other localities all over Europe, even if its foundation took place in a Basque-speaking area of Navarra. The current name of Villava is the result of the evolution of the original name (Villanova -> Villaova -> Villava) with which it was founded and which was adapted by Basque-speaking inhabitants to Euskera spelling and pronunciation, resulting in “Billeba” or “Billaba”.
At the end of the 20th
 century, the ancient name of “Atarrabia” was recovered in Villava, and began to be used as the town’s Euskera name. The Government of Navarra passed decree 543/1991 that established both names, Villava and Atarrabia, as official names for the municipality.

Bordering localities

Pamplona and Burlada to the South-Southeast, Ezcabarte to the North and Huarte to the East-Southeast.


Re-founded in 1184 by the Navarran King Sancho VI.
The town suffered under Napoleonic and Carlist wars and began its industrialisation mid-19th
 century by establishing a paper industry, that later attracted the wood, cardboard and liquor industries.

The Way of Saint James

The Way of Saint James and its French route has marked this town’s history. Located just 35 kilometres from Roncesvalles, or a day’s walk, Atarrabia itself, and especially the “Albergue de la Trinidad de Arre”, became the second rest spot for pilgrims before climbing the Pamplona slope.

The Villava historical centre, formed by its “Calle Mayor” (Main Street), runs along said pilgrim route and preserves its Medieval flavour.