Guipúzcoa, on the Cantabrian coast, is at 1,997 km, the smallest of the Spanish provinces. It is also one of the most popular tourist areas, in part due to its border with France. Relying mainly on its farming and fishing industries, the beauty of its rugged coastline, green countryside and picturesque villages provide it with a great personality within the Basque Country or Euskadi.
This typical summer resort located 20 km from the lrún Hendaya border is a clean and modern city of about 172,000 inhabitants. It lies in the shelter of the Monte lgueldo, Urgull and Ulía, and the river Urumea flows through the middle of it. As well as the cosmopolitanism of the modern town with its large avenues and elegant tree-lined boulevards there is the Picturesque old quarter and its delightful fishing port where excellent typical restaurants compete for business and where we find its two oldest churches - the Gothic Church of San Vicente and the Baroque Church of Santa María, as well as the 16th c Convent of San Telmo, converted into a museum and worthy of a visit to see its cloister and the paintings by the great Sert which decorated it.
The beach of La Concha is worthy of mention, being a magical viewing point from the city out onto the Bay of Biscay, and if we add to this the Montes Urgull and lgueldo and the Island of Santa Clara, then the final result is a bay of outstanding beauty. The Cathedral del Buen Pastor, the Municipal Casino, the Auditorium and the Congress Palace are modern structures of important addition to the urban surroundings.
Fifty-six km along a picturesque and well-maintained road taking us to Pasajes (Pasaia), Jaizkibel, Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia), lrun and Oyarzun and then back again to the capital. Pasajes comprises of the almost twin villages of Pasajes de San Pedro and Pasajes de San Juan. Pasajes de San Juan, whose 15thc church contains the uncorrupted body of Santa Faustina, was the residence of the illustrious novelist Victor Hugo in 1843. Fuenterrabía was a fortified town and bastion of many battles. It has remains of the old walls and the Castle of Charles V, today a Parador. There are luxurious mansions and the Castle of San Telmo which in the 16thc defended the town from repeated attacks of piracy. The Church of Santa María with its Gothic design and elements of the Renaissance period, and a pleasant beach at the mouth of the river Bidasoa, are also worthy of mention. From Monte Jaizkibel with its wooded slopes one can admire the beautiful scenery and visit the Shrine of Guadalupe.
In the border town of Irún a visit can be made to the Church of Nuestra Señora del Juncal which dates from 1518 and has an interesting reredos. 2 km away from the town is the Island of los Faisanes where the so-called Peace Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed and where the marriage of Louis XIV of France and the Infanta María Teresa of Spain took place. A further 5 km away is the historic Hermitage of San Marcial with its impressive panoramic views out over the beautiful Valley of el Bidasoa.
Two hundred an four km of good road taking us to the villages of Deva (Deba), Motrico (Mutriku), Elgoibar, Vergara (Bergara), Oñate (Oñati), Aranzazu (Arantzazu), Beasain and Tolosa. The main attractions of Deva, at the mouth of the river of the same name, are a beautiful beach and it, Gothic parish church. Motrico, 6 km away, offers the visitor a picturesque port and a multicoloured farmstead, and its Neoclassical church where some works of art, one of which is a 'Christ' attributed to El Greco, are kept. Motrico was the birthplace of Churraca, the glorious hero of Trafalgar.
Vergara is a noble and elegant town with interesting historical and artistica connections. It was here that Generals Espartero and Maroto signed a peace treaty in the 1839 Civil War. A beautiful 'Christ' attributed to Juan de Mesa dominates the Church of San Pedro d Ariznoa. In Oñate, the building which was originally the university is preserved and contains objects of both historical and artistical interest. Also worthy of mention is the Baroque Casa Consistorial (Town Hall) and the Convents of Bidaurreta and Santa Ana. 9 km away is the village of Aranzazu and, at a height of 900 m., the Shrine of the Virgin of Aranzazu, the patron saint of Guipuzcoa. The basilica is of impressive size and 1,500 m away is located the Pico Aitzgorri, the highest mountain in the province, from where one can admire the immense landscape which takes in six Spanish provinces and one of France.
Tolosa, the former capital of the province, is an industrial town. It possesses Roman remains and constructions of the Templars, interesting archives and an important church. Beasain, further south, is also an industrial town and marks the end of this second Tourist Itinerary.
A round trip of 106 km from San Sebastián and back taking us to the villages of Orio, Zarauz (Zarautz), Guetaria (Getaria), Zumaya (Zumaia), Cestona, Loyola and Lasarte. Twenty km from the capital at Orio one must visit the delightful beach and prehistoric caves.Further on one reaches the elegant town of Zarauz, a famous summer resort with places of architectural interest such as the Torre Lucea, the Palace of Narros and the church with its fine Baroque reredos. At Guetaria, a magnificent refuge for sailors and birthplace of Juan Sebastián Elcano, the first man to sail round the world, the 14th c Church of San Salvador is classed as a National Monument.
Ten km away one comes to Zumaya with its two beautiful beaches, a Gothic church and the Zuloaga Museum where the painter himself lived.Cestona is an old and prestigious spa town with medicinal waters and beautiful countryside. And 54 km from the capital is Loyola which is well worth visiting. It was here that Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesús, was born and the Baroque basilica contains some of his relics. Lasarte is practically a district of the capital and is famous for its racecourse.
With regard to sport, the Basque Country offers an interesting choice, especially the popular sports of the region itself. There are the traditional fishing boat regattas at La Concha, the 'pelota' championships (played in a wide variety of styles), golf, especially as the region boasts some excellent greens, and the famous horseraces. Then there are the country sports such as weight-lifting, log cutting and Basque wrestling, not to mention the world-famous sport of football which came to Spain via this region more than a century ago and brought fame to both players and teams of the province.
One of the most important attractions of the region. Its renowned cuisine finds its inspiration, naturally enough, in its fish and seafood: hake, anchovies, baby squid and baby eels. 'Kokotxas' (barbels), 'txangurros' (shellfish and fish), 'bacalao al pil pil' (cod dish), el 'marmitako' (cod stew) and the excellent meat from the area should really be tasted in situ and not just recommended.
Guipúzcoa is a region that delights in popular entertainment and there are numerous public celebrations, especially during the summer. Amongst other things there is a Musical Fortnight, an International Film Festival, an International Jazz Festival, the Great Basque Week, as well as the typical 'tamborradas' (drum festival) and a long list of Folklore festivals throughout the province with San Sebastián naturally enough at the centre of it all. Thousands ot tourists come here for their summer holidays and have no difficulty in finding accommodation in the nearly 3,000 hotel rooms to be found in the capital or the 3,800 hotel rooms available in the rest of the province.