YOU CAN EDIT THIS PAGE! Just click any blue "Edit" link and start writing!

Talk:San Sebastian

From Wikitravel
Jump to: navigation, search

initial discussion[edit]

I just filled in some bits about San Sebastian and I am going to be there soon and hopefully I come home with some nice pics as well. I knew that San Sebastian was a posh City, but I was truly surprised to see that a place of this size could have so many expensive restaurants. There you go. User:JensANDMarian

Hey, nice start, but I'm concerned about the restaurants-- I fixed some of the format, but they look like they were just cut&pasted from another site which is probably a copyright violation. Restaurants also need to be a selection-- not just a yellowpages. Imagine if you had a friends going and you wanted to tell them 2-3 places to try. We dont just want to recreate the Mitchelin guide... You might also want to check out the Wikitravel:Manual of style for formatting tips. thanks! Majnoona 14:52, 1 Oct 2004 (EDT)

Hi Maj,

I moved the travel hub comment about Vitoria to Bilbao, because Bilbao would do a better job instead. Vitoria's airport has no major connection to European airports, Bus station in Vitoria is smaller than the one in Bilbao ..... User:JensANDMarian

Hmm, we were kinda stuck in Biblao and had to take a bus to Vitoria to get a train, but maybe it was just us... we had a real hard time gettin out of Basque country and back to Portugal, but there was some sort of strike going on too... anyone have another opinion of where the "travel hup" is? I guess airport-wise, Bilboa is the clear choice.... and I'm still worried about the copyright-ness of the restaurants and hotels-- can you tell us your source (personal experience)? thnx! Majnoona 01:34, 6 Oct 2004 (EDT)

sources for further research[edit]


Here's the text of a guided tour for mining. Tons of great info, just not in our style and format.

FIRST STAGE : Between the Boulevard and the San Telmo Museum

1• The "Centro de Atracción y Turismo"

Starting point for the tour. We are generally known by our Spanish initials: CAT (Centro de Atracción y Turismo). Apart from organizing festivals and promoting the city, we house the City’s Tourist Information Office. If you have any doubts or necessities, come and ask us!

2• Brecha Market

The facade of this century-old establishment can be seen from the Boulevard. What was once a traditional market is now a shopping and entertainment centre, occupying the so-called Brecha, the old fish market and the space connecting the two. Along with new shopping possibilities, fresh local products are still available. You may wonder why it is called “Brecha”. The reason is that this is the point in the old city wall where the Anglo-Portuguese artillery opened up a breach (brecha) during the 1813 siege. Enter the Brecha Market

3• Boulevard

Donostia was a fortified city until 1862, when permission was given to knock down the old walls. Local controversy broke out between the “pro-boulevard” and “anti-boulevard” parties; that is, between those in favour of leaving an open space between the Old Part and the “Ensanche” (the new city extension designed by Antonio Cortázar) and those who argued that the new blocks should be built without leaving open spaces. Fortunately the former won and today we may enjoy the Alameda del Boulevard, which as a result of its recent facelift is now a pleasant pedestrian-only area ideal for strolling, sitting on one of the many benches, listening to music from the bandstand or meeting up with friends before heading to the Old Quarter.

Take bus number 28 to the Anoeta Municipal Sports Centre and the Illumbe Entertainment Centre and Bullring. You can also get off the bus next to the Miramón Technology Park, home of the "KutxaEspacio de la Ciencia" – the city's latest experience in science.

4• Narrica Street

We enter the old part of the city which the Donostiarras (citizens of San Sebastian) refer to as Alde Zaharra or Parte Vieja (the “Old Part”). It is a pedestrian precinct full of local character.

Look at the bust in the space to your right. This is Sarriegi square and the statute renders a tribute to the composer of the famous Tamborrada music, Raimund Sarriegi. Walk along the first street you come to, Fermín Calbetón. It is swarming with pubs. Submerge into the world of “txikiteo”, the local variety of the English pub crawl. You may not be able to resist the temptation of having a “zurito”(mini beer) or a “pintxo” (irresistible morsels of food).

5• Constitución Square

The “Consti” is one of our most charming spots. It is situated in the heart of the Old Part. It has a Neo-Classical central building on the facade of which you will find the City Arms. It first housed the old City Hall and later the City Library, which now holds the historical archives. Visit the “Consti” in the daytime and look for the numbers on the balconies, a souvenir of the times in which the square was used as a bullring and its balconies rented out as boxes.

Make yourself comfortable at one of the terrace bars on a clear night and gaze at the magic of the chiaroscuro effects of its porches. Come in December, the festival of Santo Tomás, and smell the “txistorra” sausage. Try and enter the square on the 20th January, festivity of San Sebastian, and discover that the inhabitants of Donostia also know how to enjoy themselves.

6• San Vicente Church

The City’s oldest standing monument can be seen at one end of Narrika street. Built above a former one, this church was constructed in the XVIth Century in Gothic style. Pay attention to the sentences carved into its walls: “He who swears will suffer harm and sores in the home”. Also take a look at Oteiza's sculpture "La Piedad" on the atrium wall, and the polychrome portal which went unseen for years.

Enter San Vicente church and admire the fine altarpieces and the Ecce Homo figure.

7• San Telmo Museum

To the right of the square that is dedicated to painter Ignacio Zuloaga is the neo-Rennaissance fachade of San Telmo Museum. Originally a Dominican Convent, it was built at one end of the old city in the XVIth Century. It was later used as an artillary barracks before becoming a museum.

Visit San Telmo, which is being converted into the Basque Culture Museum. Apart from taking in its ethnographical and pictorical collections as well as its temporary exhibitions and new museum-oriented proposals, do not miss the fine, recently refurbished Cloister declared a National Monument and the impressive Josep Maria Sert paintings covering the walls of the old church.

By way of the steps that rise up at the far end of Zuloaga square, you can climb the monte Urgull. You will come across lovely gardens and interesting spots such as the English Cemetery and the fortifications. You will reach a castle -Castillo de la Mota- upon which stands the thirty-metre high Sagrado Corazón (Holy Heart) monument.

Reach the Paseo Nuevo -the sea front- and make your way along it to the left, bordering the edge of monte Urgull, until you reach the Aquarium and Port area.


8• 31 de agosto Street

A survivor. On August 31st 1813 San Sebastian was in the hands of the French when Anglo-Portuguese troops arrived to free the city. Unfortunately the so-called liberators ended up sacking and burning the city. Only the churches of San Vicente and Santa Maria and some of the houses on the street that links them, were left standing. That’s why this street’s balconies are lit up with candles every 31st August, this commemorating the fire and the firm will of the Donostiarras to rebuild their devastated city.

Enter the Trinidad Plaza, an area where Basque sports are played and where the Jazz Festival booms out in July.

9• Santa María del Coro Basilica

Although of earlier origin, the present building dates back to the XVIIIth Century and has Gothic and Neo-Classical features as well as ones recalling Churriguera. Saint Sebastian is present in two works: a sculpture on the facade and a painting by Boccia, at the altar, which is presided over by Our Lady of Coro, the city's patron saint.

Legend has it that the small sculpture of the black Virgin used to be in the church's choir. However, a priest who was tired of having to climb up so many stairs to worship her, tried to make off with her under his cassock. On approaching the door, he was struck with paralysis and unable to proceed. As a result of this incident, the image of the Virgin was placed on the high altar. On August 14th the Basilica leaves its doors wide open to accommodate the flood of worshippers who come to the traditional salve, a ceremony at which the Orfeon Donostiarra choir sing.

Enter the Basilica and salute Our Lady of Coro.

10• Gaztelubide

If you go up the steps at the portico of Santa Maria, before you reach the port you will go past Gaztelubide, one of the many popular Donostiarra societies. These are clubs -sometimes exclusively for men- where supper parties, “Tamborradas” and other varied activities are organized. At midnight on the night of 14th-15th August, the Gaztelubide chorus comes out to the entrance of the club and signs the song “Festara!” (To the festival!), a song to rally all and sundry to the festivities.

11• El Paseo de los Curas

Do not be overawed by the steepness of the steps! You will soon reach a pleasant tree-lined walk on the slopes of Urgull, along which priests used to stroll as they read their breviaries. There is a splendid vantage point over the city, the port and the bay. It is a quiet spot throughout the year except for two September Sundays, when the trainera rowing regattas are held.

You may also choose to climb the monte Urgull this way, and make your way up to the Castillo de la Mota.

12• Aquarium

The Gipuzkoa Oceanography Society’s Sea Palace, is a must for any visitor. The oceanarium aquarium, a huge tank with a multitude of marine life species - which can be seen from inside an acrylic tunnel – a hands-on aquarium and new species have all been added to other previously existing elements such as the skeleton of a whale captured on the Gipuzkoan coast last century. Sharks Txuri and Urdin are the aquarium's most popular residents.

Don’t tell me you’ll be leaving Donostia without seeing the Aquarium! Be careful of the sharks! You can follow the Paseo Nuevo back in the opposite direction to that proposed at Zuloaga square.

13• The Naval Museum - El Museo Naval

It's to be found in the Port, in the old Consular Warehouse that was used by Donostia merchants and seamen alike. Come into the Naval Museum. This centre, recently inaugurated by the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, proposes taking a journey to understand the relationship between the Basque people and the sea.

14• The Port

Although pleasure craft have largely taken over from the fishing boats, the Port -generally known as the “muelle”or “kaia”- speaks of the importance of the sea in the history of San Sebastian from the times of the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. As you try some “karrakela” sea snails or some “kiskilla” shrimps , keep an eye out for the austere monument in memory of Mari, a local hero who died while saving the lives of the victims of a shipwreck. Let your eyes be rocked by the sight of the boats anchored in the harbour or gaze at the picturesque row of multicoloured dwellings above the porches. Maybe it’s time to buy a souvenir.

Embark on the “Ciudad de San Sebastian”, a boat that takes you for a ride along the San Sebastian coastline, or on the blue boats that go across to the pretty island of Santa Clara in the centre of the bay.

15• Puerto Street

After passing through the Portaletas door, the street is crossed by two more porches: that of Campanario street -that cuts across it and on the railings of which one may see the initials of San Sebastian- and, further on, the porch which is one of the ways into the Constitución square.

15• Calle Mayor (Main Street)

Notice the perspective of this axis, with a temple at either end: behind you, the Basilica of Santa Maria, and at the far end, the Buen Pastor Cathedral. Have a quick look at the Teatro Principal-Antzoki Zaharra programme. This municipal hall stages drama, film cycles and events such as the Fantastic and Horror Film Week or step inside the Kursaal Casino.

16• The City Hall

Placed between the Boulevard, the Old Part, the Nautical Club and the Alderdi-Eder gardens, the City Hall is one of the most characteristic buildings in Donostia. It was inaugurated in 1887 as a Grand Casino. Its posh halls were frequented by Europe’s privileged classes during the “Belle Epoque” period at the turn of the Century. After the ban on betting, the splendid building was finally converted into the City Hall. Take the touristic “Txu-txu Train” from near the City Hall.


17• Goikoa Palace

Until recently this Classical building was the headquarters of the Military Government. It has now been done up to cater for exhibitions and incorporate municipal offices.

18• The Royal Nautical Club

Like a vessel at its moorings, this 1929 construction is a unique example of rationalist architecture. Architect José Manuel Aizpurua was 27 years old when he designed it with Joaquin Labayen.

Take a look at the Nautical Club’s landing stage and let yourself be inspired by the breeze off the Concha bay waters.

19• The Alderdi-Eder Gardens

Alderdi-Eder can be translated as “pretty place”. It is indeed. Take a look at the bay or at the City Hall’s impressive facade. It is here that thousands of children line up to participate in the children’s “Tamborrada” parade every 20th January. An elegant carrousel takes us back to bygone days.

It is from here, too, that they let off the deafening fireworks which light up the bay during Semana Grande nights. Those funny trees are tamarisks, though people wrongly call them tamarinds - “tamarindos”. It is a kind of tree that forms part of the Donostia scenery, being rather dishevelled though hardy enough to stand the coastal climate. It may have been in this spot that the poet Gabriel Celeaya evoked “This open city, purely conceived./ This city that was not granted, simply being human. / This city that always shunned its walls/ and which accepts all, being pretty for the hell of it.”

20• Hotel de Londres

Its stately light-coloured fachade and its dome stand out at the beginning of the Concha. Before reaching the hotel, Cervantes square brings to mind the writer by way of the reproduction of the figures of Don Quixot and Sancho Panza, the originals of which are in Madrid’s Plaza España.

Go down to the Concha beach taking the first ramp. It has two striking lamps on either side. Take an envigorating walk along the edge of the bay.

On the Paseo de la Concha you will be able to overlook the beach by standing at the typical white railings. You will come across several buildings which date back to the times when Donostia was a sea resort: its famous clocks, the old Perla del Océano (Ocean Pearl) or the old Casa Real de Baños (Royal Bathing House).

Treat yourself to a session at Termas la Perla, the only a seawater spa in the city. If you keep walking along Paseo Miraconcha you will reach the Miramar Palace, a stately home that the Regent Queen Maria Cristina had built in English style. Juan Carlos I studied there when he was a young prince. Today it is the headquarters of the University of the Basque Country and Eusko Ikaskuntza-Basque Studies Society summer courses. Leaving the Antiguo district to one side, go on to Ondarreta beach and keep going until you reach the Peine del Viento (Wind Comb).

The sight of the waves crashing against Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture ensemble is hard to forget. If you still want more action, look for the station of the old funicular that runs up to the summit of monte Igeldo, where there is a charming fun fair.

21• Avenue de la Libertad

The city’s business and banking centre. Donostiarra citizens call this avenue “la Avenida” -tout court- though it has also been known as “Avenida de España” and “Queen’s Avenue”, for the spanish Queen Isabel II passed along this avenue on her way from the Concha to the Estación del Norte when going into exile in France after being forced to abdicate during the 1868 Revolution.

22• Loiola Street

This pedestrian street leads to the Buen Pastor Cathedral, and is dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Company of Jesus.

Enter the busy and aromatic Market of San Martin.

23• The Buen Pastor Cathedral

Its 75-metre spire is visible from many points in the city. Like so many other Donostia buildings, it was built with stone from the Igeldo quarries. We invite you to make your way round the Neo-Gothic Germanic-looking temple, which is surrounded by a square with lovely gardens.

On the right, in San Bartolmé Street, you may take a number 19 city bus to the Palace of Aiete. It was here that Maria Cristina spent her summer holidays until Miramar Palace was completed. Dictator Francisco Franco also resided here temporarily and held Cabinet Meetings in the palace, which is surrounded by ample gardens.

24• The Koldo Mitxelena Centre and Post Office building

These are two impressive buildings of a monumental nature that stand at the rear end of the Buen Pastor square. The one on the right is the Koldo Mitxelena Cultural Centre - KM Kulturunea and, to its left, the central Post Office building.

Go into the KM Kulturunea, the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council’s cultural centre, to visit its exhibitions or look for a book you have been after in the library.

25• Bilbao Square

A car-free area pedestrians will enjoy. If you go along Alfonso VIII street, you will reach this round square that is refreshed by a fountain. What is known as the “pedestrian axis” leads off to the left, communicating with the Boulevard by way of Getaria and Churruca streets, Gipuzkoa square and Elkano. We will continue along here at a further point on the tour.

Now cross the pedestrain axis as far as the Boulevard.

Turn left into Prim street. As you walk along this street, look at the smart early XXth Century facades and entrance porches, with their endless ornaments of Art Nouveau inspiration. Pay special attention to numbers 17 and 28. If you follow this street (bearing the name of General Prim) as far as the end, you can turn sharp left when you reach the park called Araba, and walk back along Arbol de Gernika, an avenue which skirts the river.

26• María Cristina Bridge

This profusely decorated bridge is probably the most attractive one over the river Urumea. It leads to the Estacion del Norte (San Sebastian’s station). The ensemble is unique, featuring small dragons, maritime scenes, coats of arms (those of Donostia and the old Gipuzkoan one), with four sculptural groups built upon four shrines inspired by the Alexander III bridge in Paris. Cross the bridge.


27• Main train Station

The Madrid-Paris line has passed through this station since 1864. Incidentally, the canopy over the platforms was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the father of the famous Tower in Paris.

Cross the railway lines by way of the subway or the footbridge. Enter the Cristina-Enea park at the foot of the district of Egia. It is a romantic wood inhabited by peacocks given to the city by the Duke of Mandas.

28• France Avenue

Romantic Donostia overlooks the river. Seven French-style stately homes and the waters of the Urumea give this peaceful area its special character. From here you can see the buildings of the Paseo de los Fueros on the other bank. Try and imagine the times when the river had no embankments and most of the present city area was made up of sandbanks and marshland.

From the end of the avenue you will see the white building of La Equitativa, a leading exponent architecture from the 30’s.

Do you feel like a stroll around Gros district?

29• Santa Catalina Bridge

30• Avenue de la Libertad

One may already find references to the existence of a wooden bridge that crossed the Urumea here in the XIVth Century.

After much transformation, the austere Santa Catalina bridge continues to be the main artery joining the two banks. We once again reach the Avenida (Avenue), a street lined with banks and newsstands.

Before turning into Churruca street, take a look at the house on the opposite corner. Number 21, the one where the Banco Guipuzcoano is, stands out for its richly ornamented architecture.

31• The County Council’s Palace

Take the pedestrian way that leads form Plaza Bilbao along this street dedicated to Cosme Damian de Churruca, an explorer killed at the battle of Trafalgar. Since 1885 the County Council has had its headquarters in this Neo-Classical building overlooking Gipukoa square. If you look up, you’ll see the busts of five famous sailors and conquerors that are commemorated on its fachade.

32• Gipuzkoa Square

Fernando Savater once wrote that he would wait for the Last Judgement sitting quietly on one of the square’s benches. Many Donostiarras have childhood memories associated with the square. We ran through the gardens here, we hid under its arches, we fed the ducks in the pond, we learnt how to tell the time on the garden clock, we admired the traditional crib installed here and tried to take readings at its elegant monumental metereological station. Under the stony gaze of José María Usandizaga, author of “Las golondrinas” and “Mendi mendiyan”, young generations of Donostiarras continue to enjoy the same pleasures offered by these gardens as we did.

33• Okendo Gardens

The statue of Admiral Antonio de Okendo is made of bronze cannons that were used during his feats. The admiral looks out over the river in a space flanked by two characteristic buildings: the Maria Cristina Hotel and the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, both of which built in 1912.

34• María Cristina Hotel

French archictect, Charles Mewes, author of the Ritz hotels in Paris and Madrid, designed this luxury hotel complex. The Maria Cristina’s five stars multiply every month of September when the great figures invited to the International Film Festival are invited to stay its suites. Bette Davis made here her last public appearance. Bullet holes on the hotel walls are a reminder of the Civil War

35• Victoria Eugenia Theatre

The municipal theatre is the home of “glamour”. The major events of Donostia’s cultural life have been acted out in this unique Neo-Plateresque style building. Greatmusicians invited to the Musical Fortnight have played on its stage and the most popular of film stars have been applauded in its boxes during the Zinemaldia - International Film Festival. Some of the events previously held at the theatre have now been moved to the nearby Kursaal Convention Centre.

36• Zurriola Bridge

Also known as the “Kursaal” bridge, its original lamps of expressionist and futuristic style light up the mouth of the Urumea with character.

37• Kursaal Convention Centre

Built on the site of the old Kursaal Casino, this new hub of San Sebastian cultural life boasts an Auditorium, a Congress Hall and several halls for congresses and exhibitions. Over 10,000 translucent glass panels cover the cubes designed by Rafael Moneo. They are like stranded rocks. It is Donostia’s tribute to the future.

38• Zurriola Beach

Our tour ends beside the Kursaal, at the end of the avenue named after former Basque President, Jesus Maria de Leizaola. Here we can breathe in deeply, enjoying the view of the Urumea’s mouth, the architectural Kursaal blocks , the sea crashing against the pier and Gros Beach -also known as Zurriola Beach-.

Walk along the Zurriola avenue along this side of Donostia’s sea front until you reach Sagües district.

Wander aimlessly through the streets and discover your own version of Donostia.

Can we use this text as a draft for itinerary? --DenisYurkin 06:39, 13 January 2008 (EST)

towards clarity in pintxos to order[edit]

I plunged forward to re-edit this piece:

>Some slightly pricier pintxo bars that do all pintxos to order and have correspondingly higher quality are:

Aiming for more clarity for non-native speaker, I tried the following:

> Some slightly pricier pintxo bars that don't have pre-cooked pintxos and only cook them on order (correspondingly, their pintxo are of higher quality) are:

Does it reflect the original meaning? --DenisYurkin 04:30, 22 September 2007 (EDT)

how pintxos are different from other cities[edit]

> The way to eat pintxos, ... in San Sebastian is quite different from other cities in Spain

Is it actually specific to San Sebastian? In my experience, pintxos and customs about them are quite the same around the Basque Country (I had a chance to compare San Sebastian with Hondarribia, and the guidebooks I've read say quite the same). Rjk, what do you think about moving most of Pintxos section to Basque Country? I can try to do it myself if you like it. --DenisYurkin 05:59, 23 September 2007 (EDT)

Random stuff[edit]

“The quaint coastal town flourishing with Spanish traditions."

Why should a group of foreign exchange students go to San Sebastian? to go to the discotecas of course. and maybe a little partying on the beach. Yes, yes but don't other cities in Spain have that? i guess, but those cities are bogged down by the everyday tourist and those catering to them san sebastian offers a true look at hispanic culture without the fog of incessant obnoxious tourists if you click on recent changes on the left margin, all of these appear..maybe this is meant to be in the "discussion section" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Texugo (talkcontribs)

Where does it come from? What's the point of this? --DenisYurkin 13:05, 24 October 2007 (EDT)

shoe store with window changing daily[edit]

> There are fantastic shoe stores--I remember one in particular whose rainbow of amazing women's shoes in the window changed daily--and sources for that inimitable bold Spanish fashion.

Can someone help to identify which store is this piece about? --DenisYurkin 16:57, 18 November 2007 (EST)


Surprised to see a Mercure listed as a "Splurge" hotel, as its one of Accor's Middle of the Road brands .... ? Marcfarrow 13:49, 24 January 2010 (EST)

If you are convinced it is in the wrong category, please plunge forward and move it yourself, ClausHansen 15:43, 24 January 2010 (EST)