Vitoria-Gasteiz | Spain

Vitoria-Gasteiz (/vɪˌtɔːriə ɡɑːsˈteɪs/, Spanish: [biˈtoɾja], Basque: [ɡas̺teis̻]) is the seat of government and the capital city of the Basque Autonomous Community and of the province of Araba/Álava in northern Spain. It holds the autonomous community's House of Parliament, the headquarters of the Government, and the Lehendakari's (Prime Minister's) official residency. The municipality — which comprises not only the city but also the mainly agricultural lands of 63 villages around — is the largest in the Basque Autonomous Community, with a total area of 276.81 km2 (106.88 sq mi), and it has a population of 242,082 people (2014). The dwellers of Vitoria-Gasteiz are called vitorianos or gasteiztarrak, while traditionally they are dubbed babazorros (Basque for 'bean sacks').

Vitoria-Gasteiz is a multicultural city with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, healthcare, architectural conservation, aeronautics, vehicle industry, oenology and gastronomy. It is the first Spanish municipality to be awarded the title of European Green Capital (in 2012) and it is consistently ranked as one of the 5 best places to live in Spain. The old town holds some of the best preserved medieval streets and plazas in the region and it is one of very few cities to hold two Cathedrals. The city also holds well known festivals such as the Azkena rock festival, FesTVal, Vitoria-Gasteiz jazz festival, and the Virgen Blanca Festivities.

Vitoria-Gasteiz's vicinity is home to world-renowned wineries such as Ysios (by Santiago Calatrava) and the Marqués de Riscal Hotel (by Frank Gehry); relevant heritage sites including the Neolithic remains of Aizkomendi, Sorginetxe and La chabola de la Hechicera; Iron Age remains such as the settlements of Lastra and Buradón; antique remains such as the settlement of La Hoya and the salt valley of Añana; and countless medieval fortresses such as the Tower of Mendoza and the Tower of Varona.

In 1181, Sancho the Wise, King of Navarre founded the town of Nova Victoria as a defensive outpost on top of a hill at the site of the previous settlement of Gasteiz. The existence of Gastehiz, apparently inhabited by vasconic people, can be traced back to the lower Middle Ages; it is certain that by the 11th century, prior to the foundation of Nova Victoria, the settlement was already walled. It is assumed that Sancho the Wise gave the new city its name in memory of the old settlement of Victoriacum, which must had long since been abandoned. In 1199, the town was besieged and captured by the troops of Alfonso VIII of Castile, who annexed the town to the Kingdom of Castile. The town was progressively enlarged and in 1431 it was granted a city charter by King Juan II of Castile. In 1463, it was one of the five founding villas of the Brotherhood of Álava alongside Sajazarra, Miranda de Ebro, Pancorbo and Salvatierra/Agurain.

Museum of Fine Arts, housed in a Renaissance mansion. It displays 14th-century carvings, Flemish 16th-century triptychs, panels of Spanish masters such as Jusepe de Ribera and modern Spanish paintings.
Arms Museum of Álava is home to weapons from various ages, from prehistoric axes to 20th-century handguns. There is a large collection of medieval weaponry and reconstruction of the Battle of Vitoria.
Montehermoso Cultural Center, housed in restored 16th-century buildings, formerly headquarters of the Diocese of Vitoria. In 1997, with the annexation of the former water tank, the property became the Montehermoso Cultural Center, designed as a space for art exhibitions and musical performances.
Plaza de España or Plaza Nueva. A large arcaded plaza designed by the architect Antonio de Olaguibel in 1781 and designed to unite the old town with the new Story, then under construction.
Plaza de los Fueros. A triangular square used as a market and for other entertainment activities. It was designed by Eduardo Chillida.
The Arkupe/Arquillos. This road was built with porticoes between the 18th and 19th centuries.

From an urban point of view, Vitoria-Gasteiz is a mid-sized city, the line of which is adapted to the traditions of each historical moment. The medieval town is set in almond-shape around the hill foundation, which by its privileged position as the only elevation in the plain of Álava, became a defensive stronghold coveted by the kingdoms of Navarre and Castilla during the 11th and 12th centuries. The walled enclosure was built prior to the war between Castile and Navarre in the 11th century to defend the village. The defensive walls of old Gasteiz were built between the years 1050 and 1100. Because of that first defensive role, its narrow streets surrounding the oval resulted in compact rows of houses parallel both to each other and the medieval walls (of which only some sections and gates are preserved). Between the years 1854 and 1856, an epidemic of cholera served as the excuse for tearing down the gates, fortresses which provided access to the streets Run (fort of Nanclares), Shoe (fort of Soto) and Blacksmith (fort of Abendaño) and which served to protect every neighbourhood association. The entrance of the current Plaza de la Virgen Blanca was the site of Santa Clara, which was joined by the wall at the Convent of San Antonio. In the 19th century, in recognition that the city was small, an expansion was planned in the neoclassical style, and little by little planning for the city has given Vitoria-Gasteiz its current form.


Deportivo Alavés, football team playing in the Segunda División in 2015–16, where they finished first, gaining promotion to La Liga for the 2016–17 season. Their home matches are played in the Mendizorrotza Stadium, with training facilities at the Ciudad Deportiva José Luis Compañón (Ibaia) on the edge of town. Other local teams play at the Betoño Sports Complex near the city centre, while Aurrerá and CD Vitoria are based at Olaranbe, another development on the periphery.
Baskonia, basketball team playing in the top professional Spanish basketball division Liga Endesa and in the top professional European basketball division Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in 2015–16, where they finished fourth in the two competitions. Home matches are played in the Fernando Buesa Arena.

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