Sightseeing in San Sebastian, Spain

Sightseeing in San Sebastian, Spain

Writing about a place that you love and appreciate seems to be much more difficult than discussing a destination that doesn't evoke any strong feelings.
It's probably my main reason for waiting for the right moment to write about my last trip to Spain.

A Fascination with Spain

I've been fascinated with Spain for 15 years, which means more or less half of my life. This fascination, passion and admiration started with the language and literature. Thanks to immersing myself into the worlds created by G.G. Márquez, C. Fuentes and the great Spanish poet F. G. Lorca, I  managed to learn about the absolutely outstanding culture of this beautiful country. It has changed my life. Since then I have been going deeper and deeper into this world.

About San Sebastian

Possibly contrary to many expectations I am not going to write about sandy beaches and describe Catalunya`s capital. I would like to start sharing my views from saying a few words about San Sebastián, also known as Donostia which is a capital of Basque Country (País Vasco).
Probably the first thing that I should mention is the language diversity in Spain. The question of the Spanish language can often be considered as a subject of numerous discussions. Is it Castellano or Spanish? Although Spanish is spoken by every Spanish citizen, there are also a few different languages: Catalan, Basque and Galician. As it`s possible to notice similarities between Catalan and Castilian, the language spoken in Basque Country is completely different.
San Sebastián appears in the Spanish history around the year 1014 in a document of Leire monastery donation. Then one of its strongest points was the location near to The Concha Bay. With the time passing Donostia was progressing thanks to its successful fishermen selling their products to France, England and Flanders. Another period of prosperity was connected with setting up the colonies by Spain in America.

Food in San Sebastian

There are so many delicious foods to taste, but Pintxo is one of my personal favourites. Pintxo (or Pincho) can be compared with tapas, which are widespread in many Spanish regions. It is a kind of snack, but there are certain differences between pincho and tapas. First of all, tapas are eaten with cutlery, not with hands. Another interesting thing is the way in which pinchos are pierced with sticks. In Spanish, pincho comes from the verb ‘pinchar’ which means 'to pierce' -- which explains how it got its name. It`s interesting that we can find it also in Navarra and Cantabria.  Pinchos can be accompanied by zurito (a small pint of beer) or txikito (a small glass of wine).
Where to Get Pintxo's
I can recommend 2 bars in San Sebastián. The first of them is “Bar Txepetxa”, which is situated at Calle Pescaderia 5. There you can try absolutely delicious anchois with spawn of porcupine or sea spider cream. Another bar worth visiting is called “Bar Nestor” (Calle Pescaderia 11) offering pincho with tortilla from potatoes (served only at 13:00 and 20:00). You can also ask for Gilda, named after the famous film with Rita Hayworth, made from guindilla pepper, olives and anchovies. Their prices shouldn`t be higher than 3-5€.
When it comes to pinchos, I should also add that its main strong points are its absolutely unique combinations of tastes, an example being herring with walnut. On the other hand, its ingredients are not especially sophisticated and demanding for the stomach.

Sightseeing in San Sebastian

Obviously, San Sebastián isn't only a temple of food. It is also a city with many interesting places to visit. As in many European cities, one of the first places we want to see is the old town. In this case, it's called Parte Vieja. Nevertheless, historically the oldest part of Donostia is situated near to El Monte Urgull, which will be mentioned again later on. Up until 1863, Parte Vieja was surrounded by city walls and because of this fact, it was separated from the rest of Donostia. It is worth mentioning as well that this part of the city is divided into 2 parishes, Santa Maria and San Vicente. Citizens living in the first one are known as joxmaritarrak, whereas parishioners of San Vicente are known as koxkeroak, who up to XVIII century could speak Gascon.
One of the most significant streets here is Calle 31 de Agosto (both churches mentioned above are situated there). As a vast majority of the buildings were reconstructed in XIX century, the Church of San Vicente is the oldest building. Its altar is dated back to 1586.
If you decide to visit San Sebastián without any doubt you should get to Monte Urgull. It is a hill moved forward towards The Bay of Biscay where it is worth visiting the Fortress Santa Cruz de la Mota. Besides the hill, one can also see the 30-metres high sculpture of Jesus. The easiest way to reach this place is to leave off from Santa Maria church. Getting there by foot takes approximately an hour.

Festivals in San Sebastian

Like many other Spanish cities, there is a great variety of local festivals in San Sebastian, including Fiesta de San Tomás (21th December), and The Carnival (2nd February).
However, I should mention as well about aizkolazis and arrijasotzailes. The first mentioned name refers to a kind of wood-chopping competition, while Arrijasotzailes is a stone lifting competition consisting of different types of tasks.
Travel Tip shared by hannahjones1986