Things to see in Vitoria-Gasteiz
Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of the Basque Country. It is about 50 minutes' travel by car from Bilbao and 1 hour from Getxo. Is an ideal city to visit at any time of year, with many charming spots with a marked contrast between mediaeval and modern features. The heart of the city is its old quarter, one of the most popular areas for visitors.
Old quarter of Vitoria-Gasteiz
The origins of Vitoria-Gasteiz date back to the Middle Ages. It was in 1181 that King Sancho VI of Navarre conquered the village of Gasteiz and renamed it "Nueva Victoria". The old quarter of the city still retains a clearly mediaeval ambience.
The main sights of Vitoria-Gasteiz are the following:
Cathedral of Santa María
The old quarter of Vitoria-Gasteiz has many outstanding Gothic religious buildings. Chief among them is the Cathedral of Santa Maria, which was declared a human heritage site in 2015.
It features the tallest tower in the city, which makes it an exceptional lookout point over the whole of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
The tower of the cathedral is currently undergoing restoration. Guided tours are available under the name "Open for Work", with all necessary safety measures being taken.
Another attraction of the cathedral is the "Portico of Light". This is a digital projection showing what the now-faded historic polychrome figures originally looked like.
The Portico of Light is part of a trail known as the "route of the four towers", which also takes in three more churches in the mediaeval old town.
Church of San Vicente Mártir:
This was the last church to be built in the mediaeval old town of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It stands on the site of the earlier fortress of San Vicente.
We suggest that you climb the tower and take a walk under the vault just below the roof to get the best view of the inside of the church.
Church of San Miguel Arcángel:
This church in the Virgen Blanca square is the oldest in Vitoria-Gasteiz. It dates from the time of the city's charter. Inside it is the chapel of La Virgen Blanca ["Our Lady the White"], patron saint of the city.
Church of San Pedro Apóstol:
The Gothic style parish church of San Pedro Apóstol was built in the 14th century. Its exterior is in the form of a Latin cross. It stands by the original mediaeval defensive city wall.
Mediaeval city wall
In 2001 an archaeological dig took place under the Old Cathedral. The excavation work brought to light remains of a defensive wall dating from the 11th century.
The main sights of interest of this distinctive area of the old quarter are the guard tower and the mural called "The Shortest Night".
The Teatro Principal theatre in Vitoria-Gasteiz
The Teatro Principal Antzokia was built in 1918 with funding raised by local residents, who named it the "NewTheatre".
In 1951 it was given its present name of ‘Teatro Principal’, which had also been considered in the original naming process.
It started life as a cinema but was later purchased by the public authorities and refurbished to host events such as the International Theatre Festival and to serve as a home to the Basque Symphony Orchestra.
It is currently used mainly for theatrical and musical performances. It stages over 150 shows per year, also including dance, humour and folklore performances.
It also stages family theatre programme that provides ideal entertainment for families with children.
The Artium Museum is located close to the old quarter of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It is a must for lovers of contemporary art. Uniquely, it features work by artists from the Basque country and the rest of Spain who have left their mark on the world from the 1950s onwards.
Outside it there are three sculptures by renowned 20th-century artists:
Elogio de la Arquitectura XIV ["In Praise of Architecture XIV"], 1994, by Eduardo Chillida.
Finkl Octagon, 1991, by Richard Serra.
Mirador mirando ["The looker looking"], 1958, by Jorge Oteiza.
It is a museum with something for everyone, and an ideal place to visit with children.
Would you like to hear about more sights to see in the Basque Country? Then take a look at the sights around Getxo!