Splendour of San Sebastián

From Igueldo Mountain we see that if there weren’t not a city in this location, we would have to invent it. The heart of the old town, spreads along a stripe. Protected by waters, beaches, natural defences, rivers making the place a comfortable paradise to live at. Wherever you look, nature did a perfect job, and men have completed this masterpiece

So it was obvious that there had been battles and wars to conquest it. San Sebastián or Donosti in local language, is one of the most prosperous city in Spain with a terrific quality of life. Beautiful, and produces a powerful visual impact wherever you look at.
The city seduces at first sight. It takes time to feel in love with some cities, but with San Sebastian the love process is like a lightening strike. ¡quick!. My date with the city was short and I will go back. So what makes it to be that special?. The city could be defined by four indiscutible elements.
Not everything is La Concha Beach
Or perhaps it is. Today there are surfers, and this big “golden sandy soil” is the big sight. But it had a Royal facet once when Spanish Reina María Cristina decided to move the court and spend her vacations there. The aristocracy, rich and famous came afterwards and San Sebastian flourished, in the age of the Belle Epoque as the most elegant bath resort in the XIX and beginning of the XX century. A kind of Cote Azur, Spanish way.
The Peine de los Vientos, an statue from a well known Spanish artist dominates one edge of La Concha. Now it has lost some aristocratic bright, but it is still almost the most beautiful sandy beach in Spain with traces of his former royal past. For example, the Perla Thermal Spa. Sa
anta Clara Island, in the middle of the bay, is the perfect ornament.
If we thought that having such a beach as place for relaxation and walk is a privilege, having more than one is something unique. In San Sebastian’s set of beaches  we should mention the elegant Ondanerreta Beach. Besides  Zurriola next to Ulía Mountain.
The modern architecture is part of the vanguardist heritage of many Spanish cities, that are wise enough to build them instead of moaning about how expensive it is. Cidade  of Culture, Guggenheim, Niemayer Centre. In San Sebastian is called Kursaal; the place where the famous San Sebastián  Cinema Festival is celebrated.
Besides, the Semana Grande, or the City’s Jazz Festival. Kursaal was it a huge casino palace and leisure center in 1921,  at downtown. It was demolished when the Zurriola Bridge was built.
The new (although not popular) was erected at 1999, according to a Moneo project.
Like a big green boat facing the waterfront, is an impressive building matching the greenish sea waters, and it’s like a guardian of the old town. These two huge cubes is a must in San Sebastian.
Old town.
Although the city has suffered a devastating big fire, the historical heart is a delicious and vibrant set of pedestrian alleys. Perfect to wander and get lost. There are several points of interest. The Old Port at the end of La Concha, reminds us of a former intimate and traditional San Sebastian. The two most important churches are Santa Maria and San Vicente; I especially loved the colorful arched Plaza de la Constitution, where old “bullfighting” ring was.
The baroque style Santa Maria church, at the end of Calle Mayor is an essential tourist reference. There’s a transition zone, where the the townhall lies; from Alderdi Eder Garden you can enjoy the best view of La Concha Beach.
The Ensanche or the splendour of the modernism style.
After the 1813 fire, the city was insufficient and needed to be expanded to the south. There’s a french touch everywhere. Ensanche is a more racional architecture.  Pedestrian wide boulevards, arched avenues, and squares, simulating for instance the parisian Place des Vosges. We are talking about new and huge public buildings.
A new neogothic cathedral, Municipal Library, Post – Office, or the bustling Reyes Católicos Street with an unusual activity. As for gourmet tourism is concerned, we should visit the Market of San Martin, and especially imposing is the big Guipúzcoa Square with masive buildings as La Diputacion Foral, raised with the Opera in Paris as inspiration. Finally Reina Victoria Theatre, and the Maria Cristina Hotel. A classic deluxe hotel. No doubt, the architectural elegance is the key element in the Basque city.
The importance of the Basque cooking is not how good the  ingredients are, but food as are an excuse to go out and socialise. There are hundreds of places where are scrumptious displays of food. Local bars, offering hundreds of bites called Pintxos. A pure burst of flavour  and creativity. What locals do is; drinking txacoli (local wine) and eating pintxos and more wine, even more pintxos until our stomach says “enough is enough”.
This is a way to get out, see and let be seen. Gourmet art of exploration. The bar counters, are filled with with hundreds of incredible pintxos.
A city with a view
You won’t know San Sebastián until you don’t get up to Mount Igueldo. Perhaps the most relevant hill. Magnificent views also from Monte Ulía.
A fascinating city indeed.

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