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Traveling in Spain: Vitoria-Gasteiz, the European Green Capital.

Updated on November 9, 2014
Katiadejuan profile image

Katia is a translator turned UX/UI designer. She is a digital nomad who loves surfing and is passionate about linguistics and sociology.

La Virgen Blanca Square, Vitoria-Gasteiz.
La Virgen Blanca Square, Vitoria-Gasteiz. | Source

Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital city of the province of Álava and of the autonomous community of the Basque Country.

Throughout history, Vitoria has constituted a remarkable vantage point in the military, commercial and cultural fields, which is shown in its valuable heritage.

The city is also known as the European Green Capital, a recognition achieved due to the measures carried out in order to improve the environment and quality of life in the city. Some of these measures are the decrease of both light and noise pollution in the city, and the creation of the Green Belt, a network of parks and gardens located around the city. This contrast between sustainability and urban life is a clear example that not only can city and nature coexist, but also that their interaction adds beauty to the environment and significantly improves the quality of life of those who live there.

What to visit

Whether you prefer visit monuments or you prefer enjoying the tranquility of nature, Vitoria is your city.

The Green Belt
The Green Belt | Source

Green Belt

As mentioned previously, one of its main attractions is the Green Belt, which is formed mainly by the parks of Zadorra, Zabalgana, Armentia Olaruzu and Salburua, five beautiful parks around the city you can walk across enjoying its flora and fauna.

One of the best known is the Salburua Park, located in the north-east of the city. The park has several lakes and natural lookout spots from which to watch the wildlife of the area, which includes birds, amphibians or insects.

In this park you will also find the Ataria, the Salburua Wetlands Interpretation Centre, which aims to promote the importance of biodiversity and the natural heritage of the Park and its surroundings. On the Ataria, you will be able to attend talks, environmental courses, guided tours and workshops.

Salburua Park
Salburua Park | Source

Contemporary Art Museum

The Artium is an amazing contemporary art museum and a cultural activities center. It was inaugurated in April 2002, and contains the most complete collection of contemporary Basque art as well as one of the most important collections of contemporary Spanish art.

The museum offers an ambitious program of exhibitions as well as a schedule full of cultural activities related to contemporary culture, such as film projections, music, courses or seminars, among others.

Street with bars and restaurants for eating pintxos in the Old Town.
Street with bars and restaurants for eating pintxos in the Old Town. | Source

The Old Town

The old town of Vitoria dates from the XVII century and contains most of the artistic and architectural heritage of the city. Here you will enjoy walking across its narrow streets admiring its numerous palaces and buildings, a sample of its artistic legacy which includes a wide variety of architectonic styles such as Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical and Renaissance.

This area is also perfect for your lunch or dinner time, as here are the most popular bars and restaurants where you can taste one of the most typical dishes of the Basque Country, the "pintxos", a typical snack, similar to tapas, which is usually eaten hanging out with friends or relatives, and which is considered as one of the key pillars of the Basque culture and society.

Santa María Cathedral
Santa María Cathedral

Santa María Cathedral

The Santa Maria Cathedral, also known as the Old Cathedral, was founded around 1180 by the king Sancho VI and is located in the highest part of the old town, upon which was the ancient and primitive village of Gasteiz.

This building is extraordinary and is one of the activities you cannot miss when visiting Vitoria. This amazing cathedral has captivated hundreds of writers internationally acclaimed such as Ken Follet, who was inspired by the building for writing the second part of The Pillars of the Earth.

Currently is being restored, but they offer a unique program called "Open for Restoration Work" which consists in guided tours through the restoration of the cathedral, a great way to learn about the history of the building and the city.

© 2013 Katia De Juan


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    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for telling us about Vitoria-Gasteiz.

      I have travelled through the Basque country several times but never stayed IN it! One day I hope to and your hub has pointed me to where I should start a visit. The green spaces look wonderful. I would definitely head for the quieter spaces.

    • Setab profile image

      Setab 3 years ago

      It sounds awesome. I would love to visit someday. Thanks for sharing, very informative.

    • Katiadejuan profile image

      Katia De Juan 4 years ago from London, UK

      Hi @iheartbasque,

      Thank you very much for your comment. ^_^

      You are right, Vitoria is a really nice city, and it is a bit sad that it is being overshadowed by Bilbao and San Sebastian, as Vitoria is a city as attractive as the other ones, if no much more. I do prefer Vitoria much more than Bilbao, it is very well-cared city which has been taken plenty of sustainable measures, and I think that more cities should learn from Vitoria.

    • profile image

      iheartbasque 4 years ago

      Love Vitoria so much and don't think it gets enough publicity. I think it's a little overshadowed by San Sebastian and Bilbao. If you're interested you should check out my video blog entry for Vitoria:

    • Katiadejuan profile image

      Katia De Juan 4 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you very much for your vote, Susan. I'm very happy you liked it. (^_^)

      Indeed, Vitoria is a really nice city, and thanks to the measures they approved to improve their environment, the city is very clean and quiet. You can go walking through the centre of the city without hearing almost any car. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen in Spain.

    • Vacation Trip profile image

      Susan 4 years ago from India

      Wow. This is a beautiful place. The pics are awesome. Thank you for sharing. Voted up.