Vitoria-Gasteiz (/vɪˌtɔːriə ɡɑːsˈteɪs/,
Spanish: [biˈtoɾja ɣasˈteiθ], Basque: [ɡas̺teis̻])
is the seat of government and the capital city of the Basque
Autonomous Community and of the province of Araba/
Álava in northern
Spain. It holds the autonomous community's House of Parliament, the
headquarters of the Government, and the Lehendakari's (Prime
Minister's) official residency. The municipality — which comprises
not only the city but also the mainly agricultural lands of 63
villages around — is the largest in the Basque Autonomous Community,
with a total area of 276.81 km2 (106.88 sq mi), and it has a
population of 242,082 people (2014). The dwellers of Vitoria-Gasteiz
are called vitorianos or gasteiztarrak, while traditionally they are
dubbed babazorros (Basque for 'bean sacks').
Vitoria-Gasteiz is a
multicultural city with strengths in the arts, commerce, education,
healthcare, architectural conservation, aeronautics, vehicle industry,
oenology and gastronomy. It is the first Spanish municipality to be
awarded the title of European Green Capital (in 2012) and it is
consistently ranked as one of the 5 best places to live in Spain. The
old town holds some of the best preserved medieval streets and plazas
in the region and it is one of very few cities to hold two Cathedrals.
The city also holds well known festivals such as the Azkena rock
Vitoria-Gasteiz jazz festival, and the Virgen
Vitoria-Gasteiz's vicinity is home to world-renowned wineries such as
Ysios (by Santiago Calatrava) and the
Marqués de Riscal Hotel
Marqués de Riscal Hotel (by
Frank Gehry); relevant heritage sites including the Neolithic remains
of Aizkomendi, Sorginetxe and La chabola de la Hechicera; Iron Age
remains such as the settlements of Lastra and Buradón; antique
remains such as the settlement of La Hoya and the salt valley of
Añana; and countless medieval fortresses such as the Tower of Mendoza
and the Tower of Varona.
Beethoven dedicated his Opus 91, often called the "Battle of Vitoria"
or "Wellington's Victory", to one of the most notorious historical
events of the Napoleonic wars; the Battle of Vitoria, in which a
Spanish, Portuguese and British army under the command of General the
Marquess of Wellington broke the French army and nearly captured
Joseph Bonaparte. It was a pivotal point in the Peninsular War
eventually leading to the defeat of Bonaparte. A memorial statue can
be seen today in Virgen Blanca Square.
4 Economy and demographics
5.2 Local festivities
8 Green Capital
9 International relations
9.1 Twin towns – Sister cities
10 Notable people
12 External links
In 581 AD, the Visigoth king
Liuvigild founded the city of
Victoriacum, trying to emulate the Roman foundations, as a celebration
of the victory against the
Vascones near what is assumed to be the
hill occupied by the primitive village of Gasteiz. This however is not
sufficiently proven, and some historians and experts believe that
Victoriacum was located not on the site of present-day Vitoria-Gasteiz
but nearby. Several possible locations have been proposed, the
foremost of which is the late Roman military camp of Iruña-Veleia
(cf. J.M. Lacarra). Veleia is located some 11 km north of modern
Vitoria, on the banks of the same river. However, modern archeological
studies of the site suggest that Veleia was last inhabited c.5th
century AD, and archeologists are still to find a 6th-century
visigothic resettlement in the site. Another theory has suggested
that Victoriacum was located at the foot of Mount
Gorbea where there
is a village called Vitoriano. The town of Armentia, nowadays in the
outskirts of Vitoria, has also been proposed as a possible location of
Victoriacum. In either case, Victoriacum vanishes from history
shortly after its foundation.
In 1181, Sancho the Wise,
King of Navarre
King of Navarre founded the town of Nova
Victoria as a defensive outpost on top of a hill at the site of the
previous settlement of Gasteiz. The existence of Gastehiz, apparently
inhabited by vasconic people, can be traced back to the lower
Middle Ages; it is certain that by the 11th century, prior to the
foundation of Nova Victoria, the settlement was already walled. It is
assumed that Sancho the Wise gave the new city its name in memory of
the old settlement of Victoriacum, which must had long since been
abandoned. In 1199, the town was besieged and captured by the
Alfonso VIII of Castile, who annexed the town to the Kingdom
of Castile. The town was progressively enlarged and in 1431 it was
granted a city charter by King Juan II of Castile. In 1463, it was one
of the five founding villas of the Brotherhood of
Sajazarra, Miranda de Ebro,
Pancorbo and Salvatierra/Agurain.
Vitoria-Gasteiz in the 17th century
Battle of Vitoria
Battle of Vitoria of the
Peninsular War occurred near
Vitoria-Gasteiz along the river
Zadorra on 21 June 1813. An allied
British, Portuguese, and Spanish army under General the Marquess of
Wellington broke the French army under
Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal
Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. The victory assured the eventual end of French
control in Spain. There is a monument commemorating this battle in the
main square of the city known as the Monument to Independence.
When news came to Vienna in late July of that year, Johann Nepomuk
Mälzel commissioned Ludwig van
Beethoven to compose a symphony, the
op. 91 Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria (Wellington's
Victory, or the Battle of Vitoria) or Siegessymphonie.
Work began on the Institute for Middle Education in 1843, with classes
beginning during the 1853–54 academic year. It is now current
headquarters of the
Basque Parliament and formerly the convent of
Santa Clara. The Free University opened in the wake of the revolution
of 1868. The University operated from 1869, to just prior to the
1873–1874 term, largely because of the second Carlist War. Chief
academics were Ricardo Becerro de Bengoa, Julián Apraiz, Federico
Baraibar, and so on. This latter, great Hellenist (1851–1918), was
also among the first teachers of Basque in
Vitoria-Gasteiz as an
During the Spanish transition to democracy, the Church of St. Francis
of Assisi was the scene of a police shooting on March 3, 1976 during a
peaceful labour assembly. Under the orders of Interior Minister Manuel
Fraga, the police shot tear-gas into the church where 5,000
demonstrators and others had reunited, firing on them as they
struggled their way out of the religious temple. It resulted in five
dead and over one hundred wounded by gunshot.
On 20 May 1980, by decision of the Basque Parliament, Vitoria-Gasteiz
became the place of the common institutions of the Basque Autonomous
Vitoria-Gasteiz has an oceanic climate (Cfb) under the Köppen climate
classification, typical of the Basque country. Winters are much cooler
than in lowland coastal areas, whilst summers are similar in terms of
high temperatures, with cool nights due to the elevation. Summers show
a significant influence of mediterranean precipitation patterns, but
enough precipitation usually occurs to remain marine in nature.
Sunshine levels are low by Spanish standards and the climate is humid
Climate data for Foronda-Txokiza 513m (1981–2010)
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)
Average snowy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meterología
San Miguel Arcangel Church and the Virgen Blanca Square
Betoño Street in August. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country,
Cathedral of Santa Maria (Old Cathedral), a 14th-century Gothic
building with a 17th-century tower. Under the pórtico are three open
doorways decorated with statues and reliefs. In the interior, chapels
containing Gothic, Flemish and Italian
Renaissance images including
paintings by Rubens and van Dyck. The cathedral is undergoing
restoration and has been studied by experts from around the world for
its architectural curiosities, including those deformations which it
has suffered due to previous restorations.
Cathedral of María Inmaculada of Vitoria
Cathedral of María Inmaculada of Vitoria (New Cathedral), built and
consecrated in the 20th century, in High Gothic style.
Andre Maria Zuriaren plaza/Plaza de la Virgen Blanca. It is a square
to which converge some of the most typical streets of the old town and
the 19th-century city expansion and is surrounded by old houses with
glass verandas. At its center stands a monument commemorating the
Battle of Vitoria.
Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Álava, located in Cathedral of
María Inmaculada ambulatory, houses samples of religious art heritage
of the province, divided into sections of stone carving, wood carving,
painting on wood, paint on canvas, jewelry and furniture liturgical.
Church of St. Peter the Apostle (14th century) in Gothic style. The
Old Portico, with a set of reliefs depicting scenes from the lives of
St. Peter and the Virgin Mary, run under the pictures of the Virgin
and the apostles.
Church of St. Michael the Archangel (14th–16th centuries), in
Renaissance style. Its portico has an image of the Virgen
Blanca, patron saint of the city. Inside is an altarpiece by Gregorio
Church of San Vicente Mártir. A late Gothic building from the 15th
and 16th centuries.
Church of the Carmen. A neoclassical temple built between 1897 and
Basilica of San Prudencio. Its original construction dates to the 12th
century, but it was rebuilt in the 18th century. The temple houses
sculptural samples from different eras and artists.
Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora of Estibaliz. Located in the town of
Argandoña, 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Vitoria-Gasteiz, it dates to
the 11th century.
Convent of Saint Anthony. A Clares nunnery from the 17th century.
Convent of Santa Cruz. Dominican nunnery from the 17th century.
Former hospice (16th–17th centuries), originally the Colegio de San
Old Portico, Church of San Pedro
Casa del Cordón, an example of civil Gothic architecture. It was
built in the 15th century, but has kept a tower from the 13th century.
Catholic Monarchs stayed here, and Adrian VI was named Pope while
Basque Museum of Contemporary Art (Artium). Its permanent collection
is considered one of the best and most important contemporary art in
Basque and Spanish. It was inaugurated on April 26, 2002.
Museum of Natural Sciences, located in the Tower of Otxanda Andrea, an
example of medieval architecture. It is also a center for research and
dissemination of Natural Sciences.
Museum of Archaeology, located in a house of wood lattice from the
16th century. The exhibition includes dolmens, Roman sculptures found
in Álava, and medieval pieces.
Fournier Museum of Playing Cards, in the Bendaña palace.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is known for the manufacture of playing cards. More
than 6,000 cards are displayed in the museum.
Museum of Fine Arts, housed in a
Renaissance mansion. It displays
14th-century carvings, Flemish 16th-century triptychs, panels of
Spanish masters such as
Jusepe de Ribera
Jusepe de Ribera and modern Spanish paintings.
Arms Museum of
Álava is home to weapons from various ages, from
prehistoric axes to 20th-century handguns. There is a large collection
of medieval weaponry and reconstruction of the Battle of Vitoria.
Montehermoso Cultural Center, housed in restored 16th-century
buildings, formerly headquarters of the Diocese of Vitoria. In 1997,
with the annexation of the former water tank, the property became the
Montehermoso Cultural Center, designed as a space for art exhibitions
and musical performances.
Plaza de España or Plaza Nueva. A large arcaded plaza designed by the
architect Antonio de Olaguibel in 1781 and designed to unite the old
town with the new Story, then under construction.
Plaza de los Fueros. A triangular square used as a market and for
other entertainment activities. It was designed by Eduardo Chillida.
The Arkupe/Arquillos. This road was built with porticoes between the
18th and 19th centuries.
Ajuria Enea, the seat of President of the Basque Government
(Lehendakari) since 1980. It was built in 1918 as the main residence
of the family of the local entrepreneur Serafin Ajuria, and it is a
fine example of the Basque architecture of the period.
Ataria, an information and interpretation centre for the wetlands of
Salburua, an important nature park on the eastern edge of the city.
The Great Sequoia, a 40-metre tall tree dating back to 1860
Economy and demographics
The economy of
Vitoria-Gasteiz is diverse, and many manufacturing
companies have operations there, including Mercedes-Benz, Michelin,
Gamesa, and Heraclio Fournier, the latter being headquartered there.
The city has been ranked second in standard of living among all cities
in Spain, and first as to green areas and cultural
places per capita.
Streets in Vitoria-Gasteiz
Vitoria-Gasteiz hosts two annual international music festivals:
The International Music Festival/Course Vitoria-Gasteiz, from 18 to 27
July (the 2011 Edition)
Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival, from 10 to 16 July (the 2011
The Azkena rock festival, on 29 & 30 June (the 2013 Edition).
Andre Maria Zuriaren jaiak festival
The Andre Maria Zuriaren jaiak/Fiestas de la Virgen Blanca festival is
celebrated every year from the 4th to the 9th of August in honour of
the patron saint of the city, and features a programme of special
events, activities and free open-air concerts.
San Prudencio's Festival
San Prudencio's Festival is also celebrated in late April..
The liberal arts section of the
University of the Basque Country
University of the Basque Country is
based in the south part of the city. Focusing on history and
Álava campus is also home of the Faculty of
Pharmacy, as well as some other technical, teaching and business
Its origins date back to 1847 when the first Escuela Normal de
Álava was established. A number of other colleges and
faculties were adopted in 1978 by the emerging University of the
In the urban area of
Vitoria-Gasteiz there is modern and
accessible-for-all public transport, in the form of trams and city
Vitoria-Gasteiz is connected both with the rest of the Basque
capital and with Madrid, because the city is a step on the N-1/A-1.
There are two motorways in their municipality and a future motorway
service: The N-1 Madrid-Irun, the N-622 Vitoria-Altube and its
connection with the AP-68 Logroño-Bilbao, and as of the end of 2009,
the new AP-1 between Vitoria and Eibar, an attempt to alleviate the
problems caused by congested traffic on the N-1/A-1.
Railway station of Vitoria-Gasteiz
Vitoria-Gasteiz is one of the main stops on the Madrid-Irun railway
line. Half a dozen trains each day link the city with Madrid, using
Alvia trains on the
AVE infrastructure to reach
Madrid in 3 hours 43
minutes. There are also connections to Paris, Barcelona,
Bordeaux. There is a complete lack of rail services to
no direct rail link with Bilbao.
A municipal tram service is operated by Euskotren Tranbia.
Basque Y high-speed rail network is planned to connect
Vitoria-Gasteiz with the French border,
San Sebastián and Bilbao
within 35 minutes. However, work on this project has been slow and
there is no date for its inaugural run.
Vitoria Airport is 4th in
Spain in cargo traffic. Almost all
passenger flights use
Bilbao Airport (50 minutes away by car), which
is the 2nd most important base for Vueling, with the second highest
number of destinations offered and 4 million passengers traffic.
Boulevard of Salburua
From an urban point of view,
Vitoria-Gasteiz is a mid-sized city, the
line of which is adapted to the traditions of each historical moment.
The medieval town is set in almond-shape around the hill foundation,
which by its privileged position as the only elevation in the plain of
Álava, became a defensive stronghold coveted by the kingdoms of
Navarre and Castilla during the 11th and 12th centuries. The walled
enclosure was built prior to the war between Castile and
the 11th century to defend the village. The defensive walls of old
Gasteiz were built between the years 1050 and 1100. Because of that
first defensive role, its narrow streets surrounding the oval resulted
in compact rows of houses parallel both to each other and the medieval
walls (of which only some sections and gates are preserved). Between
the years 1854 and 1856, an epidemic of cholera served as the excuse
for tearing down the gates, fortresses which provided access to the
streets Run (fort of Nanclares), Shoe (fort of Soto) and Blacksmith
(fort of Abendaño) and which served to protect every neighbourhood
association. The entrance of the current
Plaza de la Virgen Blanca
Plaza de la Virgen Blanca was
the site of Santa Clara, which was joined by the wall at the Convent
of San Antonio. In the 19th century, in recognition that the city was
small, an expansion was planned in the neoclassical style, and little
by little planning for the city has given
Vitoria-Gasteiz its current
The Old Quarter (Alde Zaharra/Casco Viejo), has many architectural
jewels such as Bendaña Palace, the Fournier Museum of cards (erected
in 1525 by Juan Lopez de Arrieta, on the site occupied before by the
defensive tower built by Maeztu). The Ezkoriatza-Eskibel Palace, built
by Claudio de Arciniega in the 15th century. The Villa Suso, where
Martin Salinas, ambassador of Charles V dwelt (16th century). And the
greatest historical treasure of Vitoria-Gasteiz: the Cathedral of
Santa Maria (Old Cathedral).
The history of the Cathedral of Santa María (commonly known as Old
Cathedral), is itself a synthesis of the history of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Built on the cemetery of the primitive village of Gasteiz (which today
can be accessed through the excavations), the church of Santa María
collapsed with the fire of 1202, and
Alfonso VIII of Castile (who had
conquered the city just 2 years earlier), ordered that it be rebuilt
at the site of a former church that was to serve two very different
purposes: regular religious services and weapon storage. Thus was born
the Cathedral of Santa Maria, a fortress-like church that served as
the entrance to the city. The project changed with the centuries, so
that each modification was made without taking into account the
previous. This was the case in the 15th century (when the church
became collegiate), and finally in the 1960s, when it was decided to
reverse the previous works of strengthening of the external walls and
widen the windows, made purely for aesthetic reasons, which had
severely damaged the stability of the building. Today, the cathedral
is open again, and offers visitors guided trips exposing the recent
archaeological findings. It has become one of the main attractions of
Vitoria-Gasteiz. Ken Follett, author of "The Pillars of the Earth",
said after his stay in the city that Santa Maria was one of the three
most interesting cathedrals of the world.
From the Middle Ages to the 18th century, the population of
Vitoria-Gasteiz and the layout of its streets remained almost
unchanged. And it was not until the late 18th century, when growth
required the expansion of the city outside. To solve the problem of
the difference in height between the original kernel on the hill, and
the plain below, the arches were erected and the Plaza De España or
Plaza Nueva was built, which soften the transition from the old city
to the 19th century neoclassical expansion of wide streets and
gardens, the greatest examples of which are seen in the Park of La
Florida, and the Andre Maria Zuriaren Enparantza/Plaza de la Virgen
Blanca, with its façade pulled viewpoints.
Finally, the new quarters of
Vitoria-Gasteiz were built, in accordance
with a development plan favouring parks, recreation areas and quality
of life. While aiming to maintain the identity of the city, and
drawing on the district of San Martín, the need to accommodate the
growing population has led the city to concentrate its growth in the
new neighbourhoods of Lakua,
Salburua and Zabalgan. The city of
Vitoria-Gasteiz has received several international awards for its
urban development. Also worth mentioning is the green ring, a network
of parks and green spaces around the city, destined to be the lung of
the future Vitoria-Gasteiz, and link the city with the countryside.
This ring is formed of the parks Salburua, Zabalgana, Armentia,
Alegria river, Gamarra,
Abetxuko and Atxa-Landaberde.
Deportivo Alavés, football team playing in the
Segunda División in
2015–16, where they finished first, gaining promotion to
La Liga for
the 2016–17 season. Their home matches are played in the
Mendizorrotza Stadium, with training facilities at the Ciudad
Deportiva José Luis Compañón (Ibaia) on the edge of town. Other
local teams play at the
Betoño Sports Complex
Betoño Sports Complex near the city centre,
while Aurrerá and
CD Vitoria are based at Olaranbe, another
development on the periphery.
Baskonia, basketball team playing in the top professional Spanish
basketball division Liga Endesa and in the top professional European
basketball division Turkish Airlines
EuroLeague in 2015–16, where
they finished fourth in the two competitions. Home matches are played
in the Fernando Buesa Arena.
Vitoria-Gasteiz held the title of European Green Capital in 2012 due
to the high proportion of green public areas, ensuring that the entire
population lives within 300 m2 of an open green space, its
biodiversity and ecosystems services, as well as for the city's green
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Spain
Twin towns – Sister cities
Vitoria-Gasteiz is twinned with:
Anaheim, United States
Cogo, Equatorial Guinea
Lagouira, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Victoria, United States
Ignacio Hidalgo de Cisneros
Ignacio Hidalgo de Cisneros (1896–1966), aviator.
Ramiro de Maeztu
Ramiro de Maeztu (1875–1936), political theorist and journalist.
Lourdes Oñederra (1958), Basque linguist, professor and writer.
Tania Lamarca (1980), rhythmic gymnast, Olympic champion with the
Spanish group at the
1996 Summer Olympics
1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and two times
Estíbaliz Martínez (1980), rhythmic gymnast, Olympic champion with
the Spanish group at the
1996 Summer Olympics
1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and two
times world champion.
Almudena Cid (1980), rhythmic gymnast now retired, eight-time national
champion; participated in four Olympic finals at Atlanta 1996, Sydney
Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, also took part in 9 world
championships and 12 European championships.
Lorena Guréndez (1981), rhythmic gymnast, Olympic champion with the
Spanish group at the
1996 Summer Olympics
1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and two times
^ Moreno, Luis A. García; Fernández, Luis Suárez (10 March 2018).
"Leovigildo: unidad y diversidad de un reinado". Real Academia de la
Historia – via Google Books.
^ a b Moreno, Luis A. García; Fernández, Luis Suárez (10 March
2018). "Leovigildo: unidad y diversidad de un reinado". Real Academia
de la Historia – via Google Books.
^ S. Villimer: Vitoria, historia de una ciudad, p. 160 (Vitoria 1977).
^ "Masacre del 3 de marzo en
Vitoria-Gasteiz (1976)". Artium. 2010.
^ Malaina, Guillermo (2008-02-13). "Los fantasmas de Fraga". Público.
^ "Balio Klimatologiko Normalak. Foronda-Txokiza". AEMET. Retrieved
^ Gorospe, Pedro (21 December 2016). "The Basque Y: the very slow tale
of a very fast train". El Pais. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
^ "European Green Capital".
^ "National Commission for Decentralised cooperation". Délégation
pour l’Action Extérieure des Collectivités Territoriales
(Ministère des Affaires étrangères) (in French). Retrieved
Media related to
Vitoria-Gasteiz at Wikimedia Commons
Vitoria-Gasteiz travel guide from Wikivoyage
Official web site of Vitoria-Gasteiz
Website of the
Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council - Tourism
Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Auñamendi Basque Encyclopedia (Euskomedia
Municipalities in the province of Álava
Baños de Ebro/Mañueta
Harana/Valle de Arana
Iruña de Oca/Iruña Oka
Lapuebla de Labarca
Moreda de Álava
Ribera Baja/Erribera Beitia
Villabuena de Álava/Eskuernaga
Capitals of provinces of Spain
Castellón de la Plana
Capitals of autonomous communities of Spain
Palma (Balearic Islands)
Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country)
Santa Cruz &
Las Palmas (Canary Islands)
Toledo (Castile–La Mancha)
Valladolid (de facto, Castile and León)
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela (Galicia)
Logroño (La Rioja)
Madrid (Community of Madrid)
Murcia (Region of Murcia)
Valencia (Valencian Community)
1 Autonomous cities.
Villages in Vitoria-Gasteiz
Gamarra Mayor-Gamarra Nagusia
Gamarra Menor-Gamarra Gutxia
Hueto Arriba-Oto Goien
Miñano Mayor-Miñano Goien
Miñano Menor-Miñao Gutxia
Oto Barren-Hueto Abajo
Subijana de Álava-Subillana-Gasteiz
Uribarri Dibiña-Ullibarri Viña
Uribarri Nagusia-Ullibarri de los Olleros
Zuazo de Vitoria-Zuhatzu