The Concha Bay is the image par excellence of San Sebastián: it is the most classic, the most photographed, the most visited of them all... The Concha Beach stands right in the centre of the city and stretches from the City Hall to the Pico del Loro (Parrot’s Beak). Its 1,500 metres of white sand are elegant and cosmopolitan (it will come as no surprise that the Concha is considered to be one of the best city beaches in Europe).
The The Concha promenade is punctuated with several elements famous in their own right and well known beyond the city: the Concha railing (one of the most universal icons of the city, unmistakable for its design), the lamp posts (replicated in the Film Festival awards, “los relojes” (“the clocks”, main access to the beach), the area around La Perla (with its variety of spa options, bars & restaurants, sports clubs, etc.). All of these elements make a stroll round the Concha (whether by the beach or the promenade) an essential activity for locals and tourists alike. You can continue your walk round the bay by taking the Paseo Nuevo promenade round the bottom of Monte Urgull and heading along the Zurriola Beach until coming to Sagüés in a spectacular city stroll covering around 6 kilometres.
Monte Igeldo is located at the end of La Concha Bay, marking the limit between the city and the sea. This is a place where the past meets the present, where you can relive your childhood years by visiting a picturesque fairground from yesteryear. Here, you can travel back to the past in a 1912 funicular railway, , while enjoying the most iconic views of the city.
At the summit, you will be able to make out all of the city as well as part of the Gipuzkoan coastline and the immense Cantabrian Sea. Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the Bay, as well as the impressive power of the waves breaking against the cliffs. This place guards a special secret: a fairground that captures the essence of the “Belle Epoque".
Miramar Palace was built in 1893 on the order of Queen María Cristina of Austria, who used to spend her summers in Donostia/San Sebastián. After considering other places such as Monte Urgull and Aiete, the queen settled on this location, where there had previously been a hermitage which had to be moved to another spot. Nowadays, if you visit the Antiguo neighbourhood you will find the palace among its streets.
In first impressions, the palace is reminiscent of English noble country houses. Designed by the English architect Selden Womun and built by the master craftsman José Goikoa, for years it remained in the hands of the Spanish Royal Family, serving as their summer residence and as the college of Juan Carlos de Borbón.
Tradition and modernity are brought together in one of the most special areas of the city. Stroll through the fishing port and lose yourself in the streets of the Historical Quarter where the smell of pintxos emanates from every corner. Cross the Boulevard and leap through time to land in the centre of Donostia, and visit its pedestrian streets and spend a few hours shopping in its lovely shops and boutiques.
What is today San Sebastián's City Hall was home to the city’s Gran Casino from the time it was opened on 1st July 1897 until it was closed in 1924 with the prohibition of gambling. Its roulette tables and Dance Hall, currently the Plenary Hall, provided entertainment for politicians, writers and artists in the Belle Epoque period.
Belle Epoque in design yet highly modern in spirit. That’s how we could describe the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, a building that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. Located in the city centre, in full view of the Kursaal and on the banks of the River Urumea, the Victoria Eugenia Theatre proposes a varied and continually changing programme.
This sandstone building sporting plateresque motifs with Spanish Renaissance forms was created by the architect Francisco de Urcola in 1912. Particularly interesting on the facade are, over the Doric columns, four groups of sculptures representing the opera, tragedy, comedy and drama.
For decades the Victoria Eugenia Theatre has been the principal hub of the International Film Festival; since its renovation in 2007, the building now offers new cutting edge spaces and audiovisual technologies.
Standing in the Cristina Enea Park, the building is presently occupied by the Fundación Cristina Enea, created to raise awareness on environmental issues and sustainability.
The present distribution of the mansion, which dates from 1890, is the work of Jose de Osinalde. Today is ground floor is occupied by the Fundacion Cristina Enea. Entering through the front door, you will come to the reception and the large wooden stairway. The second floor houses the office ones used by the Duke of Mandas and two exhibition spaces. Lastly, the building has a gallery for traveling exhibitions that connect the main building to an educational room in the former chapel. There is also a rest area for visitors.
Monte Urgull is a natural area in the centre of San Sebastián that affords fabulous views of the sea and the city.
Witness to the wars suffered in their long history by the people of San Sebastián, a structure of ancient paths and fortifications can still be found on Monte Urgull today, including the splendid La Mota Castle.
In times of Sancho the Great, King of Navarre, the first defencive lookout point and San Sebastian's early walls were built. The date was around 1150. That first castle was a classic rock top construction, square, with a tower of each of the four corners and a keep to the rear. It was suffered numerous transformations over the years, just like the other fortifications on Monte Urgul.
Construction was begun by Charles the Noble in 1397 on a 12th-century Romanesque building, and was completed in 1501. The high altar is crowned by a figure of the Virgin of Santa María la Real, in front of whom the kings of Navarre used to swear their oaths.
Is a Neoclassic-converted building in the town centre. Built in 1731 and restored in 1982. The building blends into the portico space of the Plaza de España. Designed by the architect Justo A. de Olaguibel.
The work of Sancho Martínez de Arego, it is built on the site where the Virgin appeared in a vision in the early sixteenth century, and it is mainly Gothic, but mixes several styles. The Basilica is a must for many citizens of Bilbao, who come daily to this sanctuary to venerate the Virgin of Begoña, patron saint of Bizkaia, known locally as the ‘Amatxu’ (Mother).
Seafaring people are also greatly devoted to the Virgin and as a result, there have been many boats registered in Bilbao with the name "Virgin of Begoña" or simply "Begoña" since the 16th century. In addition, it is the custom of sailors to salute the Sanctuary and sing the ‘Salve Regina’ when they first see the church from afar as they come up the river.
The "Amatxu" of Begoña, as she is popularly known, receives a heartfelt tribute from residents of Bilbao and Biscay on both 15 August and 11 October, the day of Our Lady of Begoña. On those dates, thousands of pilgrims from throughout the Historical Territory walk through the night to attend a mass in honour of the patron saint of Bilbao and Biscay at the Basilica that bears her name and is one of the great symbols of the city.
It is built on a previous construction dating from the 13th century, and has a doorway with interesting sculptures. The Cathedral of Santa María originated as a church-fortress in the early 13th century. Construction was subsequently completed in the Gothic style in several stages throughout the 14th and 15th centuries.
Designed by Canadian American architect Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao building represents a magnificent example of the most groundbreaking 20th-century architecture. With 24,000 m2, of which 9.000 are dedicated to exhibition space, the Museum represents an architectural landmark of audacious configuration and innovating design, providing a seductive backdrop for the art exhibited in it.
Altogether, Gehry’s design creates a spectacular sculpture-like structure, perfectly integrated within Bilbao’s urban pattern and its surrounding area.
The park of the Campa de los Ingleses occupies the green space between Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Deusto Bridge as well as the new buildings like the Library of the University of Deusto, the Auditorium of the UPV-EHU and the Iberdrola Tower, among others. This area, which in its time has been a British cemetery, the Athletic football ground and also a runway, is 25,000 m2 and was landscaped by Diana Balmori, who also designed the Plaza de Euskadi. The trees planted there (oak, holm oak and jacaranda) are also the most representative in Doña Casilda Park .
The origin of the current museum is in the first Fine Arts Museum, founded in 1908 and opened in 1914 and the Modern Art Museum opened in 1924. Both institutions and their collections were united in 1945, the year that the old building was constructed.
The collection of the Fine Arts Museum, which opened in 1914, brings together over seven thousand works of art, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper and applied arts, with an outstanding heritage spanning from the twelfth century to the present. It contains important examples of ancient, modern and contemporary painting and has a special interest in the Spanish school of art and in Basque artists, by whom it has a large collection of works.
The Euskalduna Palace Conference Centre or Euskalduna Palace Conference and Performing Arts Centre, was the second building built in the urban area of Abandoibarra after the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Opened in 1999, it was designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios in corten steel as a symbol of the last vessel built in the old Euskalduna shipyard, wich had occupied this space for decades. It now runs a full programme of concerts, opera and theatre.
The Ría de Bilbao Maritime Museum was opened in 2003. Designed by the architect Juan Francisco Paz, the museum is located under the Euskalduna Bridge. The building, with a surface area of 7,000 square metres, is built using stone, steel and wood, materials that recall the ones used in shipbuilding.
The lobby is the pivotal point of the whole inner space, as it provides access to the exhibition area, the store, coffee shop, workshops and media library. The outside area of the museum is the old dry docks of the former Astilleros Euskalduna shipbuilders and has a surface area of 20,000 square metres.
Ribera Park, opened in 2003, is located in the space between the river, Euskalduna Palace Conference Centre, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Abandoibarra Avenue. It has an area of nearly 84,000 m2 and an interesting linear configuration. Its various areas are separated by streetlights twelve metres high, which illuminate the park at night, and it is lined with palms and lime trees. It features a sculpture park called "Memory Lane", evoking the industrial and maritime past of the area where it is located.
The transporter bridge linking Las Arenas (Getxo) and Portugalete, declared a heritage monument by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, is more than 125 years old. Designed by the architect, Alberto Palacio, a disciple of Gustave Eiffel, it was opened in 1893.
Vehicles and foot passengers are transported in a gondola, suspended from a rail by 36 wheels and measuring 25 metres long, which travels along the rails of the horizontal crossbar. The gondola operates 24 hours a day. The walkway is open from 10:00 until sunset.
The Würth Museum has been designed as a 20th-21st avant-garde international contemporary arts scenario. Here the works belonging to the Würth España collection will be exhibited, as well as those of the Würth Collection from Germany, considered one of the main ones in Europe and collected thanks to the initiative of Professor Dr. h.c. Reinhold Würth since the 1960s.
In Plaza España, at the top of a series of uninterrupted steps in the shape of a shell, rises the brick façade, a late 17th century Aragon Baroque masterpiece. It is flanked by two 50 m towers. Between the two, a central section. The lower part is divided by two large pillars.
Facing the station, the Joantho Gardens, named after the Municipal Councilor, who proposed the plan to Henri Faisans, mayor of Pau from 1888 to 1908. The look is up: the magnificent perspective that is on the arches of the Boulevard des Pyrenees.
Restored in the 19th century and classified National Museum, it presents 1000 years of history and offers visitors a rich decorative ensemble, as well as an impressive collection of Gobelins tapestries from the 16th to the 19th century.
In addition to Degas's masterpiece " The Cotton Office in New Orleans" , the museum presents a very fine collection of paintings from Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French schools from the 15th to the 20th century. It is the second museum of Aquitaine by the richness of its collections.
The Cantabrian Maritime Museum is in Santander Bay. It is an attractive, modern building, and was born as a tribute to this northern Spanish region and its sea. Over 3,000 square metres, it aims to show the relationship between man and the maritime world throughout history.
The lower section of the church dates from the early 13th century. The upper section of the church dates from the 14th century, while the cloister dates from the 15th century, although they have seen major reforms.
Before the building was ceded to the Carthusian order, it was the recreational residence of Henry III of Spain, who decided to build this palace on one of his hunting reserves. The building was subsequently restored when his son King John II came to the throne, following a design by John of Cologne. Construction was finally completed in the reign of Queen Isabella, and the top architects, sculptures and painters of the time were employed for the job, including figures such as Simon of Cologne, Gil de Siloé and Pedro Berruguete. The Carthusian monastery became one of the treasures of the Gothic style of the late 15th century.
This cathedral is outstanding for the elegance and harmony of its architecture, and it is the only one in Spain which, for its cathedral building alone, has received the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
This splendid old Aragonese Renaissance palace with imposing towers on either side, a wooden roof and imposing staircase forming a beautiful gallery, dates back to the 16th century.
Inside the Court the old wooden roof and ceiling can be observed which continues into the old Hall of Justice housing the painting by Jose Casado del Alisal, dating back to 1880 and depicting the infamous legend of the Bell of Huesca. To the right of the City Hall is the old Imperial College Santiago, founded in 1534, which was once part of the most prestigious University of Huesca for over three hundred years.
This is an old Gothic building which dates back to the 13th and 14th century. Its altarpiece is a superb example of Spanish Renaissance sculpture carved in alabaster by Damián Forment between 1520 and 1533, representing the Passion of Christ.
Imbued with a long history, the Porte Cailhau offers a magnificent view of Bordeaux. Despite its age (just imagine – it dates from 1494!) this large, beautiful monument remains practically unchanged. It was built to commemorate Charles VIII's victory at Fornovo (Italy). This French king has left his mark on the tower since his likeness decorates a niche on the river side and a notice ask visitors to pay attention to the lintel and reminds them that Charles VIII died from walking quickly into just such a lintel...
The Port Cailhau, thirty-five metres tall, was integrated into the city walls. In 1864, it was rented by a public letter writer and a person whose job was to weigh salt. They were both evicted in order to renovate the monument. There is a magnificent view of the oldest bridge in Bordeaux, the Pont de Pierre, from here.
An exhibition displays the tools and materials used for construction purposes at the time the Porte Cailhau was built and an audio-visual presentation pieced together from old films immerses us in the world of stone masonry.