On the 23rd and 24th of June, Vitoria-Gasteiz will become the countries capital of rock ‘n’ roll thanks to a new edition of the Azkena Rock festival. But festivalgoers don’t only feed on rock you know. Remember these two details: It was European Green Capital on 2012 and the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy in 2014.
THE PLAZA DE LA VIRGEN BLANCA
When visiting Gasteiz your first stop has to be the Virgen Blanca, the cities meeting point par excellence. Located between the old town centre and Ensanche, the square is surrounded by white houses and a monument dedicated to the 1813 Battle of Vitoria, one of this year’s stars at the festival. Stay tuned to the festivals programme and do not forget to visit it.
PINTXOS IN THE OLD TOWN CENTRE
The old town centre, with its almond shape, was declared a Monumental Site over 20 years ago; it still conserves its medieval layout throughout its nine streets. Walking up San Francisco’s Street we are welcomed by Cuchillería Street, one of the main arterial roads and best places to begin to enjoy the best pintxos and pots in Vitoria-Gasteiz before moving on towards Pintorería and Zapatería.
Don’t miss El Portalón, where you can enjoy wine tastes, dramatized meals and Basque cuisine in the intimate medieval room of an old XV century betting house, or Senéns famous potato omelette at Sagartoki Bar. The offer is truly unfathomable and we dearly recommend you use one of the thousands of ‘Best of…’ guides. We really don’t want you to go crazy with so much to choose from:
On number 54 of Cuchillería Street you will find Bibat, ‘two for one’ in Basque.
The museum complex is home to the Fournier de Naipes Musuem, located in the Renaissance Palace of Bendaña and the Archaeological Museum, a modern building designed by Patxi Mangado that has become an undeniable reference point in the city.
But, without doubt, the king of all Gasteiz’s museums is the Artium, The Modern Museum of Basque Art, found two steps away from the old town centre, Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Tàpies and Chillida, cinema cycles, concerts and poetry recitals await you at this museum. Check out their full agenda here:
THE SANTA MARIA CAHEDRAL
When Ken Follet visited the Cathedral, he was so taken back; he decided to use it as inspiration for the sequel of his famous novel ‘The Pillars of the Earth’. The city was so grateful they built a sculptor of the author next to the building.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage of Humanity site and has inspired the likes of Saramago, Paulo Coelho, Toti Martínez de Lezea and many other authors that have dedicated lines and lines to the ‘Old Cathedral’ (as called by locals).
It is also known for its interesting programme “Abierto por Obras” (Open for works), their guided tours, with the mandatory work helmets included, will help you discover the buildings deepest secrets.
Vitoria- Gasteiz was awarded with the Capital Verde prize in 2012 for a reason.
The certificate honoured the cities great effort towards obtaining a sustainable and clean environment and its Green Ring had a lot to do with it: six parks surround the city, over seven hundred hectares of forest, lagoons, fields, marshes and walkways that can be walked on foot, by bicycle (bikes can be rented in several different points of the city) and even by hot air balloon. Don’t miss them; at Salburua (the largest wetland of all) you will even find deer!
The pedestrian maze formed by the streets of Postas, Dato, San Prudencio, Fueros, Independencia and Diputación, is ideal for taking a relaxing stroll while purchasing everything you have forgotten to pack for the festival. All the known fashion brands can be found here, and if you’re looking for small trade, bohemian and unique boutique shops, the old town centre is yet again your place to go.