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San Sebastian

Culture of San Sebastian. Places to visit - old town, temples, theaters, museums and palaces

Palacio de Miramar The resort of San Sebastian invites its guests to take part in an unforgettable tour through the most scenic historical areas. Visiting of local sites and landmarks will become a great family leisure during San Sebastian vacation. The city has preserved marvelous ancient palaces. The El Palacio de la Diputacion being one of the most popular architectural landmarks of the city was built in 1885. The palace keeps a vast collection of historical books many of which are priceless museum pieces. The palace sides with a vast park area featuring plenty of original monuments and sculptures.
Iglesia de Santa Maria del Coro, Catedral del Buen Pastor, Castillo de La Mota, San Ignacio Church, as well as many others, they all become the world's cultural heritage objects and remain as iconic monuments for San Sebastian … Open
Touring fans will love to visit the Monastery of San Ignacio de Loyola which is located in the nearest suburban area. The monastery is a scale complex of buildings established in 1689. The construction of the monastery lasted for more than two hundred years. At present the building of the monastery houses a Jesuit college.
Pictorial art connoisseurs should necessarily visit the Museo Zuloaga. In the second part of the 19th century the villa was owed by a prominent painter Ignacio Zuloaga. Today the villa is transformed into a museum keeping a collection of works by the painter. It should be noted that the villa was constructed on ruins of an ancient monastery which was acting early in the 12th century. Copyright www.orangesmile.com
The former fishing village Donostia-San Sebastian is nowadays a famous resort in the Basque country. During its history this place has been repeatedly subjected to conquest. During the two … Open
Another remarkable cultural establishment is the Museo Municipal de San Telmo which is housed in a historical building of inimitable beauty executed in the Renaissance style. The museum keeps a collection of items giving its visitors a deep insight into the history and culture of Basque. One of the most interesting halls of the museum is located in the basement. The hall presents ancient tomb stones, mill wheels, obelisks and plenty of other inimitable showpieces.
San Sebastian A symbolic landmark of the resort featuring an interesting history is the Buen Pastor Cathedral. The cathedral was built at the end of the 19th century. A high tower of the cathedral has been for more than a hundred years a brand identity of the city. The cathedral is a subject of many interesting stories which the tourists will learn during an observation tour of this religious landmark. Among other religious landmarks of the resort town the Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción church is of great interest as well. The church is a genuine architectural masterpiece of Gothic style. The Church at the Monastery of San Ignacio de Loyola is another place of tourist attraction of the resort.
A visit to San Sebastian, a premium Spanish resort will be of great pleasure for haute cuisine admirers. Ethnic restaurants of the resort offer their guests a rich assortment of fish dishes. … Open
In San Sebastian, you can find wonderful museums, which offers tourists an excellent opportunity to learn a lot of interesting information. For example, in the interactive museum Eureka! Zientzia Museoa, visitors will have a fascinating excursion into the world of anatomy, technology, flora, and fauna, as well as science and history – this is one of those wonderful cultural objects that acquaint tourists with everything that happens in the surrounding world. The Tabakalera Museum is also interesting, being that it is located in a historic building of 1913, that also once served as a tobacco factory for 90 years (up until 2003). In the cultural center, visitors have an excellent opportunity to learn about the plant and the process of making tobacco.
Urumea Two wonderful museums tell about San Sebastian’s rich sea past (or Donostia’s, as the name of the city, sounds in Basque). The first cultural center is called Untzi Museoa, which has among its exhibits, ship models and marine equipment. The second museum is called Albaola Itsas Kultur Faktoria, mainly dedicated to whaling and fishing activities in the city. An eminent French writer Victor Hugo once lived in one of the houses near the bay, and today the charming building has been turned into a museum worth visiting (Casa de Victor Hugo). Fans of art will appreciate the Cibrian Gallery, where temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists and sculptors are organized.
The city of San Sebastian, being an old select resort, features numerous original peculiarities. Unique architecture, rich cultural life and the highest density of Michelin stars per square … Open
In San Sebastian, you may happen to come across two complexes with the same name “Kursaal”, which however should not be confused with one other. They are united only by the fact that both of them are wonderful sights. The Kursaal Palace (Kursaal Jauregia), where the cultural center is located, impresses with its modern architecture, which it owes to its creator Rafael Moneo, who created the masterpiece in 1999. The building is the venue for many interesting events, including the famous film festival. It also hosts temporary exhibitions and concerts. Casino Kursaal also deserves a mention: it is located in an old building, constructed at the beginning of the 19th century. It impresses with its chic interior.
The defensive fort Castillo de la Mota (Motako Gaztelua), which faithfully and truthfully served the city for more than one decade, was well preserved. Since the fortress is located on the top of Monte Urgull (whose height is 130 meters), it offers magnificent views of the picturesque San Sebastian. The castle was built at the beginning of the 12th century to protect the city from attacks. Most of the reconstruction took place in the 16th century, because at this time the fortress had more than once, suffered from various destructions (fires, enemy attacks). On the territory of the defensive complex, there is an impressive monument to Jesus, as well as barracks and warehouses.
The resort town of San Sebastian boasts marvelous beach areas. The largest and most buzzing coastal area of the resort is the La Concha beach. Its territory hosts several popular restaurants … Open
The magnificent palace, Miramar Jauregia, which was designed by Selden Wornum in 1893, also deserves a visit not only because of its beautiful neo-Gothic architecture but also because of its historical value. It was built as a summer residence of the Spanish kings who often stayed there, thus selecting San Sebastian as an elite resort. After the formation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, the building was confiscated from the monarchy by the government. Afterward, it served as the summer residence of the president, and educational and cultural centers were placed in some of the halls. After the victory of Francisco Franco, the palace returned to the hands of the monarchy, and later the City Council bought the building where excursions and summer courses are now being held.
It is worth noting that the Caudillo decided, following the example of the Spanish kings, to build a residence here. It was located in the picturesque garden Aiete Parkea, and was designed by landscape designer Pierre Ducasse. Today, the majestic white palace is the cultural center of Aiete Kultur Etxea, where interesting events are held. You should definitely take a walk along its park, whose ponds and green spaces will amaze the imagination of anyone who knows how to appreciate the beautiful scenery. It is necessary to highlight some more beautiful gardens and parks of the city, among them, Alderdi-Eder Park and Parque de Cristina Enea parks, thanks to which the walk will be remembered for a long time, detaching you for a while from the rest of the world.
1. San Sebastian is a quite expensive resort however tourists will easily find hotels and restaurants featuring quite reasonable pricing. Sport activities fans may not take their own sport … Open
Worthy of conducting walks along is the Plaza de Guipuzkoa Square, with its iconic ponds where you will find ducks and swans, rotundas, gazebos. There are also beautiful historic buildings to look at too. It is also worth taking a stroll through the Plaza de la Constitucion, which has almost always been the “heart” of the city and remains so, even today. Once there was a bullring here, and it is said that during bullfights, the number of visitors exceeded the population of the city itself. Today the square is the main place where national holidays take place, especially street processions. Puente Maria Cristina is rightfully considered to be the most beautiful bridge in the city. It attracts visitors with its ornate ornaments, sculptures and openwork lanterns. It is also worth walking along another remarkable bridge of the city — Puente del Kursaal.
Attractive in terms of architecture is the building Ayuntamiento de San Sebastian, where the old casino of the city Gran Casino used to be located. It was erected by the decree of Maria Christina of Habsburg in 1887, which made the city an elite resort for the Spanish nobility. However, with the ban on casinos in 1924, it closed its doors. Four years later, the casino was reopened – but this time as a tourist attraction. After the end of World War II, the old casino was acquired by the City Council and turned into a mayor’s office. The Edificio de Correos building is no less interesting among tourists. It was erected in 1909, as a school of arts and crafts, which operated until the end of the Second World War.
In the section below, you can get one of our excursion, activities or city discovery tours over San Sebastian and surroundings. Our website offers 10-30% lower ticket prices, when compared to the offline purchase on the spot.

City tours, excursions and tickets in San Sebastian and surroundings

Plan your own excursion through San Sebastian: churches, museums and castles

Palacio de Miramar, San Sebastian

» To build a summer cottage, the members of the Spanish royal family purchased the land at the coast of the bay. The residence was finished in 1893.
»  The three-storey palace is located in the upper city. Servants lived on the upper floors. The basement was used for household needs. It is just a few meters from the beach.
»  To link Antiguo with the other district of the city, the tunnel for vehicles was specifically built. The tunnel is dug along the embankment. There is a garden above it. Its territory belongs to the monastery.
»  In 1929, the government purchased the estate. It was assumed that the President of the Republic would stay here when visiting the city. Then, the palace was returned to the royal family.
»  Its total area is 34 000 m2. The green area is also open for the public. The citizens can walk along stone paths among well-kept lawns.
»  In the mansion, some rooms - the library, the White Hall, the Music Saloon, and the dining room - have remained unchanged since the foundation.
»  Parties are also organized in Palacio de Miramar. The San Sebastián International Film Festival is also held here.

Iglesia de Santa Maria del Coro, San Sebastian

» The Roman Catholic Church was built in the late 18th century. Historically, it is located in the city center. The construction lasted over 20 years.
»  The basilica has survived in its original form. The central entrance is between two decorated towers. You can see church symbols on the facade. There is a clock at the top of the church. Above the doorway, there is the statue of revered Sebastian. You can also see the picture of him in the basilica.
»  The Christian follower was brutally murdered in 288. He was pierced with arrows upon the order of the Roman Emperor. The city is named after him.
»  There is the emblem of the city on the wall. There are sculptures in semicircular niches with a relief base. Octagonal 15-meter columns support the vault inside. The hall with a total area of 48x33 m is divided into three sectors.
»  The altar is devoted to the patroness of citizens, the Holy Great Martyr Mary. The image of the Virgin Mary is carved out of wood. The sculpture was made in the 15th-16th century.
»  At the end of the summer month, you can listen to the famous choir Orfeón Donostiarra in Santa Maria del Coro.

Municipality of San Sebastian, San Sebastian

» In 1887, the cultural building was constructed on the city embankment. The opening ceremony was visited by the Queen.
»  It was the heart of social life: board game and fencing tournaments, different events, and concerts were held here.
»  The room with light yellow sandstone walls attracted many players. Not only local aristocrats, but also representatives of the European middle class preferred to play billiard here.
»  The Big Casino has seen serious struggles until the middle of 1920. It was the most exquisite casino in Europe at that time.
»  When the gambling was prohibited, the building served as a hospital and then belonged to the Tourist and Entertainment Center. During the First World War, political refugees, for example, Mata Hari, found a shelter here. In 1940, the city municipality settled in the building.
»  The two-storey building resembles a palace with its towers and carved domes. The square in front of the building is a well-kept parking area.
»  You can see the palace and its surroundings on postcards. It is a magnificent city landmark.

Catedral del Buen Pastor, San Sebastian

» Catedral del Buen Pastor is a religious building.
»  The construction of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd lasted 9 years. Such a long period was conditioned by the lack of funding. The construction was finished in 1897.
»  The city hall allocated the land in the city specifically for it.
»  The ceremony of the laying of the first stone was visited by the royal family. The acceptance document was signed by the future King Alfonso XIII who even didn’t reach 3 years of age at that time. So, his wrist was held by the Queen.
»  Light yellow sandstone was delivered from Mount Igueldo specifically for the construction.
»  The cathedral has a total area of almost 2 000 m2.
»  The bell tower with a spire is 75 m high.
»  4 thousand worshipers can visit services here.
»  The 30-ton organ of 1954 is the biggest in Spain. It consists of 9 535 pipes. One of them is 10 m long.
»  Stained glass windows have been made by special order. The windows depict apostles or geometric objects.
»  The relics of the first priest of the church rest in the crypt here.

Iglesia de San Vicente, San Sebastian

» The new church was built in the 15th-16th century at the site of the temple destroyed by fire. It is located in the historic quarter.
»  Over the centuries, San Vicente belonged to the other church. It gained independence in 1940.
»  In its exterior, you can see some elements of the destroyed building. Later, the covered gallery, prayer rooms, and a place for choirs were added to the main building.
»  The altar panels depict Christ. The altar was made in 1586. At the church, you can see the organ of 1868. There are wheel windows on the outer wall of the temple. The religious building is characterized by the late Gothic architectural style.
»  The inner space is divided into 3 sectors. Cross beams are attached to outbuildings and additional pedestal for worships. Tower pillars support the ceiling.
»  San Vicente is officially named The Basilica de los Santos Hermanos Martires, Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta.
»  According to the historical chronicles, martyrs Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta were sentenced to death upon the order of the Roman ruler Diocletian. They were buried in the rocky soil.
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Reference information
Map of all palaces
Public palaces near San Sebastian
♥   Palace 'Palacio de Arbaizenea' , 0.6 km from the center. On the map   Photo
♥   Palace 'Palacio Real de Miramar' San Sebastián, 1.2 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Map of all churches
Cathedrals and basilicas near San Sebastian
♥   Catedral de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Pamplona, 61.9 km from the center. On the map   Photo
Car rental on OrangeSmile.com Rentals in San Sebastian

Photogallery of cultural heritage of San Sebastian

Landmarks of culture on San Sebastian map: art-galleries, monuments, palaces, etc

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Excursions over cultural sights of neighbours of San Sebastian

Culture guide to San Sebastian. Which fascinating sights to visit once you are in San Sebastian: temples, churches, museums, theaters and castles. Recommendations (with addresses, phone numbers and links) on the places 'must visit' in San Sebastian. Plan your own city excursion by using this page info!
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