The capital of the Basque Country is Vitoria or Gasteiz as it is known in Basque.
It is located in the province of Alava; whose natural heritage of is tremendously diverse. However it is Vitoria with its special charm, that seems to be almost surrounded by a halo of peace and tranquility that captures the hearts of visitors to this province who quickly feel at home simply strolling along its wide pedestrian streets or crossing through the parks and squares until reaching the urban heart of the city known as the Ensanche.
It has one of the highest percentages of 'green areas' per inhabitant in the whole of Europe and as visitors stroll along its wide avenues, decorated by beautiful gardens and buildings they are reminded of the grandeur and stateliness of Vitoria.
The medieval quarter is alive with charming little corners, gardens and tree-lined boulevards. The city's medieval origins and ancient heritage are ever present in its churches, palaces and ancient family homes. Remains from Roman times are also to be found on the Santiago Way which passes through Alava. Used through time as a meeting point it still maintains its legacy and is a crossroads for different routes.
However, travelers passing through nowadays are far more tempted to rest a while in this majestic city.
The city has two cathedrals, one in the Gothic Style, that was finished in the 15th century and the other yet to be completed. The first, The cathedral of Santa Maria, also known as the Old Cathedral, you will find in the nerve centre of the city in the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, presided over by the Battle of Vitoria monument, is also the site of the church of San Miguel that houses the image of the White Virgin, the city's patron saint. The commanding ancient Cathedral has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument.
The surrounding area of the cathedral also preserves it historic roots and holds the most ancient streets of the city boasting the most magnificent Renaissance palaces in the capital.
The historic quarter unfolds into the new suburbs of the nineteenth century Vitoria where you will find the second cathedral, The Cathedral of Maria Inmaculada (Right), also known as the New Cathedral, where construction began in the early 20th century.
Especially worth mentioning is The Vitoria Jazz Festival that takes place in July every year. It brings internationally acclaimed musicians with the most varied styles to the Basque capital, brightening the streets of Vitoria for a week.
Places of interest in Vitoria
Vitoria is a city with one of the highest levels of 'quality of life' in Spain and enjoys an intense cultural life. Here are just a few of the places you should visit when in Vitoria.
The Augusti Palace
Houses the Museum of Fine Arts and has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument.
Museum Fournier of Playing Cards
An interesting museum dedicated to the evolution of playing cards and located in the Bendana palace, where you can see their evolution through time.
The Palace of Ajuria-Enea
Known mostly for being the headquarters of the Basque Government, it also contains monuments, history and art of great value.