Vitoria-Gasteiz

The most friendly city

The administrative capital of the Basque Country has been internationally recognized by its ecological sustainability, services and quality of life.

Plan your stay in Vitoria

Things to do in Vitoria can take you an entire weekend to complete. Among the must-sees in the city, you can find the two cathedrals, museums such as the Fine Arts and palaces such as Monteverde and Villasuso. If you had more time, you might want to consider visiting the towns nearby, or the villages and natural parks to practice some active tourism. We highlight the following places: Salinas de AñanaVillanañe, SalvatierraZalduendo or Aizkorri-Aratz natural park.

Do you want to visit this place?

Vitoria can be divided into two parts: the old city (the primitive Gasteiz) and the more modern area built since the 19th century. We would recommend starting in the Florida Park. Next to it, you can enjoy the María Inmaculada Parish, also known as the New Cathedral (the biggest church in Spain after Seville’s Cathedral). Neogothic in style, this temple stands out by the sculptures placed in the outer part of the church. If you like it, then you must also go by the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Álava, which has a good collection of religious pieces. Near the center, you can see the building of the Basque Parliament.

If you are looking for a great museum, go to the Fray Francisco of Vitoria Promenade, where you can go to the Fine Arts Museum of Álava, built upon a neo-Renaissance palace from the early 20th century. This museum has amazing paintings and sculptures from the 18th century to 20th century. We would like to highlight the paintings by Ignacio Zuloaga, Arteta or Echevarría. Facing this museum you can visit the Ajuria Enea Palace (residence of the head of the Basque government) and the Armory Museum.

Now you can go to some of the beautiful Basque plazas such as Plaza of the Virgen Blanca and Plaza of España, which holds the City Hall in the northern part, the residence of King Fernando VII which originated the famous riot in 1808. The Plaza of the Virgen Blanca is the beginning of the old city. From here we recommend going to the Plaza of the Machete (a historical place where people used to sworn into office), where you can visit San Miguel Arcángel church (16th century-17th century), devoted to the White Virgin, patron saint of the city. Villasuso Palace is also located there (Renaissance in style, which has an interesting tapestry representing Aeneas fleeing from Troy together with his family). If you climb the hill and turn right, you can have access to the viewpoint, to the left of San Vicente Mártir church (Gothic in style, late 15th century). You can have access to the 54-meter height tower builT in the 19th century from where to have a gorgeous panoramic view of the city.

Marchis of Montehermoso Palace, Renaissance style, is famous by being the residence of José I Bonaparte, where he had a relationship with the hostess of the building -it is nowadays a cultural center. A few meters away, you can find one of the best examples of civil architecture from the Renaissance in the Basque Country: the Escoriaza Esquivel Palace (mid-16th century). It was built by Fernán López de Escoriaza, who was the doctor of the Emperor Carlos V, Catalina of Aragón and her husband Henry VIII of England.

imagenCL_pais_vasco_alava_vitoria_prop

The New Cathedral

The most important building in the old city is the Old Cathedral of Santa María, built in the 13th-15th centuries upon the fortified hill where the city was set up. Built using a gothic style, this temple has been declared an Artistic-Historical Monument. The interior holds the outstanding Van Dyck’s Descent from the Cross. One of the most important tourist attractions in the Basque Country is the innovative program to visit this temple throughout the different stages of constructions of this church. Visits to the cathedral can be bought on the official website of the Vitoria’s Cathedral Foundation. The walls there (11th century) have been hidden by houses for centuries; however, they have been recently repaired.

Near the walled enclosure lies the Hurtado of Anda Tower (15th century) and the Portalón (also from the 15th century) which is now a restaurant. Bendaña Palace houses the Fournier Museum: a collection of decks of cards from all over the world. Its origin is linked to Heraclio Fournier’s factory of playing cards, established in 1864. Nowadays, the Fournier Museum and the Archeology Museum has been annexed to the BIBAT, a modern cubic building (2009) that integrates those spaces.

Another important museum in the old city is the so-called Artium, Contemporary Art Basque Museum, which was set up in 2002. It exhibits a collection of the best modern and contemporary Spanish paintings, engravings, sculptures, pictures, videos and installations. You can find here works by Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Jorge Oteiza, Carlos Saura or Miquel Barceló.

In the Cuchillería street we find the Cordón House, built by a converted Jew called Juan Sánchez de Bilbao in the 15th century. It must have been quite friendly back at the time, since many important figures have stayed here -among them Philip the Handsome and Joanna the Mad.

Must-see...

Ayuntamiento de Vitoria-Gasteiz
Vitoria city council
Vitoria-Gasteiz
Virgen Blanca square

Practical data

Coordinates

42° 51′ 0″ N, 2° 41′ 0″ W

Distances

Bilbao 66 km, San Sebastián-Donostia 103 km, Madrid 321 km

Altitude

525 m

 Inhabitants

242 373 (2014)


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