San Sebastián

Europe, Journal, San Sebastián

Explore San Sebastián: Mount Urgull


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Mount Urgull is a hill by the ocean sitting at the heart of the Basque city of San Sebastián. The hill (123 m at its highest point) became a defence point since the early ages of the city foundation in the 12th century, but the walls and the military structure were reinforced especially after the modern state boundaries took shape in the 16th century.

The hill is topped by a stronghold (headquarters, barracks and warehouses), the Mota Castle, and it had a chapel and a conspicuous 12 metre-long sculpture of Jesus Christ added in 1950, now towering over the bay. The hill (as well as the city) was a hotspot for military operations, like the ones of the Siege of San Sebastián (1813) and the assaults of 1823, 1836 and 1876 (Carlist Wars). It had an advantage being so high up, soldiers could see their enemy coming.

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Europe, Journal, San Sebastián

Highlight: La Concha Bay, Bay of Biscay


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View from our room while on vacation in San Sebastián recently. Here is an article The Independent Online wrote about this gorgeous European hot-spot.

Hotel: Hotel Londres

Food: Seafood platter, meat platter + fries at Bar Swing

Donostia, as it is called in the native Basque, rose to prominence in the mid-19th century when it became the seaside resort of choice for Spain’s Queen Isabell II and later, Queen Maria Cristina, who set up her summer court in the Miramar Palace, overlooking La Concha beach.

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Europe, Journal, San Sebastián

Experience San Sebastián: St Thomas’s Day


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Horses on show at St Thomas Day Festival

San Sebastián is the official European Capital of Culture for 2016! It’s the principal city of the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country, Spain.

It’s the land of Pintxo bars and the legendary “Old Town”, dating back to when the city was founded in 1180.
The annual “Saint Thomas’s Day” takes place on December 21st, when the city turns into an enormous country market of which the absolute star is the “txistorra” (fresh chorizo-like sausage). Stalls are set up all over the city, offering all sorts of food and craft wares, mostly produced by the people from the local farmhouses. These include cheese, honey, txistorra sausage, cider and cakes.

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Goats on show
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4-horned ram… said to have magical properties
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Busy street in the Old Town
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Young girls + boys on the streets singing is common for Christmas time. Note the traditional Basque clothing
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Roasting a pig!
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Typical Pintxo bar serving Pintxos which are part of the local cuisine, as well as local red wine or “Txakoli” – a sparkling white wine exclusive to the region
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A citizen buying his meat at the supermarket for Christmas day
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Olentzero the coal man, the Basque version of Santa Claus