Guide to Vitoria basque country, hotels in vitoria, visit vitoria spain
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Places in Spain - Vitoria (Basque Country)

 

Vitoria in the Basque Country is 41km south of Bilbao and up until the 1980's was a sleepy, quiet hamlet. It was in the early 1980's that it was chosen as the headquarters for the Basque region's government. The airport of Vitoria-Foronda lies just 5km from the centre.

Vitoria was founded on the site of a small hamlet called Gasteiz, perched on the top of a hill. Sancho el Sabio, king of Navarre and founder of the city chose Gasteiz as a stronghold against Castille and granted the town its charter in 1181. Vitoria continued to grow, protected behind the city walls. It had three streets which crossed the hill from north to south, around which the town was laid out in the shape of an almond. The structure of the medieval town still remains. In the middle ages Vitoria was renowned for its craftsmen and merchants whose guilds gave rise to the names of streets. At the end of the 18th century the city began to expand outside its walls. During this period the Plaza de España was constructed, marking the expansion to the south.

 

 

 
 
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In the mid-19th century Vitoria expanded towards the south. This area is now the city centre and main shopping area. Most of the streets and squares in the centre are pedestrianised and contain a large number of sculptures from the Basque Country, converting the city centre into an open-air art gallery. Here you will also find stately mansions, 19th century houses and the new Cathedral. Calle Paz is the main shopping street of the city and marks the eastern boundary of the city centre.

Places to visit within the medieval quarter

Casa del Cordon: 9th century, houses a medieval tower and Gothic hall.

Palacio de Bendana: 1525, home of the Fournier playing card museum, one of the most impressive collections in the world.

Casa Armera de los Gobeo: 16th century former home now houses the Archaeological Museum.

Torre de los Anda: 9th century fortified house and tower.

Cathedral de Santa Maria: 14th century with triple Gothic portico.

Old City walls: 13th century.

Places to visit in the city centre

Plaza de la Virgen Blanca: 17th century, known as the old square. In ancient times, markets were held here, outside the city walls. The square is dominated by the church of San Miguel. All around the square one can see characteristic buildings. In the centre stands the monument to the battle of Vitoria.

Church of San Antonio: 17th century with Baroque doorway and impressive sculptures.

Palacio de la Provincia: 1833. Home of the Provincial Council of Alava.

New Cathedral: 1907-1973. Neo-Gothic style.

Plaza de Espana: 1971. Forms a perfect square and houses the main Town Hall on one side.

Of special interest to the visitor is the Parque de la Florida, dated 1820. It is located behind the parliament building. These romantic gardens feature streams and copses and is one of the most attractive places in the city. The bandstand was built in 1890 and is used every Sunday in the summer and spring. The tourist office is located close to here.

Next to the park starts a promenade that stretches 3.5km to the Basilica de Armentia. It is covered by a canopy of trees and is lined with parks, mansions and museums. The Paseo de la Senda is worthy of a walk, whatever time of year.

 
     
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