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It’s a shame that so few foreign tourists stop in the charming and gracious city of Vitoria (Gasteiz in Basque). The medieval old town (Casco Medieval) rises in layers of narrow lateral streets connected by steep cross-streets. Despite its steep pitch, this whole quarter invites exploring on foot to admire its architecture and the views that open from its walls. Near the top of the hill, Catedral de Santa Maria is undergoing massive reconstruction to save it from certain collapse, and despite the fact that its precious artworks by Caravaggio and Rubens are not on view during the restoration, the hard-hat tour of the magnificent Gothic ...

It’s a shame that so few foreign tourists stop in the charming and gracious city of Vitoria (Gasteiz in Basque). The medieval old town (Casco Medieval) rises in layers of narrow lateral streets connected by steep cross-streets. Despite its steep pitch, this whole quarter invites exploring on foot to admire its architecture and the views that open from its walls. Near the top of the hill, Catedral de Santa Maria is undergoing massive reconstruction to save it from certain collapse, and despite the fact that its precious artworks by Caravaggio and Rubens are not on view during the restoration, the hard-hat tour of the magnificent Gothic structure is fascinating and a rare chance to learn about the construction and changes to these churches over the centuries. Also at the top of the old city is the 16th-century Palacio de Villa Suso. The city’s oldest church, San Pedro, is at the bottom of the hill, with a notable Gothic portal and interior art. Also below this medieval hill lies the large sloping Plaza de Virgen Blanca and the adjoining Neo-classical Plaza de Espana, a gracious space surrounded by arcades. The lovely green Parque Florida leads onto Paseo de la Senda, lined by elegant homes and villas and once part of the Way of St James, the medieval pilgrims’ route, which passes through the city. In the adjacent Ensanche quarter, Calle Eduardo Dato is a wide, traffic-free shopping street lined with stylish shops, cafes and restaurants.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Barbara Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Capital city of the province of Álava and of the autonomous community of the Basque Country in northern Spain.
  • Language: Spanish, Basque
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and fall are the nicest seasons for weather, but the colorful Fiesta de la Virgen is held annually, August 4-9.