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13. Atodo Palace

Here you have yet another of Tolosa’s outstanding buildings: Atodo Palace. Renaissance in style, it dates from the 17th century and was built by Fermín de Atodo, captain of the Tolosa regiments and ambassador to Philip II in Rome. You can still see the original coat of arms.

The palace provided lodgings for royalty, such as Philip III, Maria Luisa of Spain, Ferdinand VII and Charles IV. Note the hole on the wall, corresponding to what was once the Royal Letterbox. This is where letters were posted to the king, who would stop off to collect them and spend the night at the palace. The building was also used for several years as barracks, and in 1903 the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception turned it into their first school.

It’s location is no coincidence, since it stands on the road from France to Navarre. In fact, the Calle Mayor is believed to have been Tolosa’s first street. Bearing witness to this to-ing and fro-ing is a sign found only a few metres from the palace, on one of the buildings in the adjacent square, reading: «Carriages for Navarre, by the Calle Mayor».

The square honours the composer from Navarre, Felipe Gorriti, a resident of the town and author of several famous works. The famous Carnival Reveille precisely sets out from this square at 8 a.m. The brass band parades through the streets of the Old Quarter playing this tune, apparently to waken the town and announce the biggest day of the festivities. The streets are packed with people decked out in pyjamas, nightdresses and dressing gowns, who gaily skip along behind the band. This is a hugely popular local event!

Very near here you’ll come to the Plaza Nueva, next stop on the tour.