Things to see and do - San Sebastian
The seigneuriale towns :
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The seigneuriale towns
The seigneuriale townsBy car, 419 km, 6 days
A note for fans of urban architecture: are you a fan of seigneurial towns, walks by the sea, art and eating well? Why not explore the charm of some one of the most beautiful cities of the north of Spain.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain)
San Sebastián owes its nickname, "pearl of the Cantábrica", to its scallop-shaped bay, La Concha. Partially closed by the islet of Santa Clara, it stretches from Monte Urgull to Monte Igueldo. Two vast sand beaches follow the curve of the bay: La Concha, and beyond the promontory, the fashionable Ondarreta, offering a choice of pleasant strolls along the beach lined by luxury apartment blocks. Beyond the beach, at the foot of Monte Iguelo, is the Peine de los Vientos, the work of sculptor Eduardo Chillida.
The summit is occupied by an amusement park and restaurant, and affords splendid panoramic views over the sea, the harbour with the Isla de Santa Clara, San Sebastián in its cirque of mountains. In the evening, the illuminated town is a fine spectacle.
The two buildings that make up the Museo de Bellas Artes, one built in 1945, the other in the 1960s, house the second largest collection of Spanish art after the Prado in Madrid. The ancient art section is dedicated to Spanish painters from the 13C-17C, as well as Flemish artists from the 15C-17C: Morales, El Greco, Zurbarán, Ribeira and Goya for the Iberian peninsula; Quentin Metsys, Ambrosius Benson, Gossaert for northern Europe. The rooms dedicated to contemporary art, in a vast, high-ceilinged space lit through huge bay windows, are particularly remarkable.
The Guggenheim Museum is Bilbao's star architectural attraction. The building designed by Frank O. Gehry (winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1989), is considered a masterpiece with its amazing half-sculpted curves and walls of yellow limestone, glass and titanium with their extraordinary play of light. Occupying an area of 10 000m2, it houses one of the greatest collections of 20C art in the world, from classic avant-garde to abstract expressionism, Pop Art, and more modern trends.
Santander's seaside resort hs four beaches, the largest two of which, the Primera Playa El Sardinero and the Segunda Playa El Sardinero (separated by the Piquio Gardens), extend over 3km of golden sand, in a bay running from the Magdalena peninsula to the south to Cape Menor to the north. The seafront is bordered by characteristic early 20C resort architecture: the all-white casino, the Grand Hotel and numerous other establishments.
The beauty of the landscape, and the sublime views it offers, have made this peninsula one of the town's most sought-after districts. Take a stroll through the park, an oasis of greenery, as far as El Sardinero where there is a small zoo and replicas of the galleons in which Francisco de Orellana explored the Amazon. In the rear of the park stands a palace built by the town for Alfonso XIII (1886-1941), today an annexe of the Menéndez Pelayo International University.
Built between the 14C and the 16C, the Cathedral has all the features of the flamboyant Gothic style. Inside, take time to admire the altarpiece at the high altar, the chapel of the Rey Casto and the cross- ribbed cloister. When you reach the reconstructed Holy Chamber, built in the reign of Alfonso II in the 9C, you will find an astonishing collection of column-statues (12C), and of course the Treasury, with remarkably fine gold and silver work (9C-12C).
A listed World Heritage Site since 1985, this former audience chamber turned into a sanctuary was part of the summer residence built by Ramiro I of Asturias in the 9C on the south side of Mount Naranco. The harmonious quadrangular edifice is lit by vast bays. On the upper floor, two loggias open off the main chamber. The interior decoration has been cleverly adapted to architectural necessity with clusters of slender colonnettes, as well as Corinthian and polygonal capitals. Equal attention has been paid to appearances outside.
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela dates almost entirely from the period of the 11C to the early 13C, although the so-called Façade do Obradoiro is a richly sculpted Baroque masterpiece. In the narthex is the Pórtico da la Gloria, with its exceptionally beautiful statues. Inside, the huge Romanesque cathedral is still intact and displays the typical features of pilgrimage churches: Latin cross floor plan, vast proportions, triforium, and an ambulatory for pilgrims to move around. The main nave and huge transept, itself also with aisles, are admirable in their blend of simplicity and incomparable majesty.