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Pais Vasco trip: Vitoria – Gasteiz.

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Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain. In the medieval quarter, the Gothic-style Santa María Cathedral features a sculpted facade and towering columns. The 17th-century Plaza de la Virgen Blanca has a monument to the 1813 Battle of Vitoria. The Church of San Miguel has a large, baroque altarpiece and houses a statue of the White Virgin, the city’s patron saint.

Vitoria-Gasteiz is a dynamic city with strengths in healthcare, aeronautics, the automotive industry, and viticulture. It is consistently ranked as one of the 5 best places to live in Spain, ranking highly in quality of life and business opportunities, it is the first Spanish municipality to be awarded the title of European Green Capital (in 2012) and it has been also recognized by the UN with the Global Green City Award (in 2019). The old town has some of the best preserved medieval streets and plazas in the region and it is one of very few cities with two cathedrals. The city also holds well known festivals such as the Azkena rock festival, Vitoria-Gasteiz jazz festival, and the Virgen Blanca Festivities.

The History of Vitoria.

Qué ver en Vitoria. En un día de turismo – ilutravel.com

In 581 AD, the Visigoth king Liuvigild founded the city of Victoriacum, trying to emulate the Roman foundations, as a celebration of the victory against the Vascones near what is assumed to be the hill occupied by the primitive village of Gasteiz. This however is not sufficiently proven, and some historians and experts believe that Victoriacum was located not on the site of present-day Vitoria-Gasteiz but nearby.

Several possible locations have been proposed, the foremost of which is the late Roman military camp of Iruña-Veleia. Veleia is located some 11 km north of modern Vitoria, on the banks of the same river. However, modern archeological studies of the site suggest that Veleia was last inhabited in the 5th century AD, and archeologists are still to find a 6th-century visigothic resettlement in the site.

Another theory has suggested that Victoriacum was located at the foot of Mount Gorbea where there is a village called Vitoriano. The town of Armentia, nowadays in the outskirts of Vitoria, has also been proposed as a possible location of Victoriacum. In either case, Victoriacum vanishes from history shortly after its foundation.

More about Vitoria.

País Vasco - Surfing the Planet

Vitoria-Gasteiz’s vicinity is home to acclaimed wineries such as Ysios, designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, and Marqués de Riscal, by Frank Gehry; relevant heritage sites including the Neolithic remains of Aizkomendi, Sorginetxe and La chabola de la Hechicera; Iron Age remains such as the settlements of Lastra and Buradón; antique remains such as the settlement of La Hoya and the salt valley of Añana; and several medieval fortresses including the Tower of Mendoza and the Tower of Varona.

Ludwig van Beethoven dedicated his Opus 91, often called the «Battle of Vitoria» or «Wellington’s Victory», to one of the most famous events of the Napoleonic Wars: the Battle of Vitoria, in which a Spanish, Portuguese and British army under the command of General the Duke of Wellington broke the French army and nearly captured the puppet king Joseph Bonaparte. It was a pivotal point in the Peninsular War, and a precursor to the expulsion of the French army from Spain. A memorial statue can be seen today in Virgen Blanca Square.

Places to see in Vitoria.

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ARTIUM MUSEUM:

The Artium modern and contemporary art museum inaugurated in 2002. It houses important collections of the most famous Basque and Spanish artists.

The collection includes 3,000 pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries that holds the signatures of different artists like Miró, Picasso, Tàpies, Ameztoy, Chillida and Basterretxea and many other’s. Moreover, the museum provides educative activities to teach art to children. As well as, there are temporary expositions, done in collaboration with other European museums.

THE CATHEDRAL DE SANTA MARIA:

Santa Maria Cathedral of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain is a marvelous Gothic, Roman Catholic Church of the 13 and 14 centuries. Known as the Old Cathedral, and located on the hill of Campillo, in the upper part of the city.

The cathedral was constructed in the late 13th century as a part of the city’s defense. However, 1861 was declared as a cathedral. Besides, the church façade ornamented with beautiful masterworks of the Virgin, San Gil, and Final Judgement, and Saint James.

VIRGIN BLANCA SQUARE:

The Virgin Blanca Square is the center of  Vitoria-Gasteiz Spain and is known as the Old Square. Besides, it is a place where the locals meet each other’s to enjoy their time and relax on bars and terraces.

In the middle of the Virgen Blanca Square, you will find the Battle of Vitoria is a monument portraying the battle against Napoleon’s troops. Besides, the square is also the starting point of Vitoria’s annual event. 

Where you should see.