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Capital of the province of Gipuzkoa
Stage town for the third time
Population: 187,849 (436,000 in the urban area)
Personalities: Maria Christina of Austria (Queen of Spain), Alfonso XIII (King of Spain), Cristobal Balenciaga (fashion), Abraham Olano, Jose Luis Arrieta, Pello Ruiz Cabestany, Chente Garcia Acosta (cycling), Aritz Aranburu (surfing), Aritz Aduriz (football, Spanish international), Mikel Arteta (football, Arsenal coach), Pio Baroja (writer),
Specialities: Pintxos (tapas), Kokotxa (hake jowl in green sauce), Idiazabal cheese, guindillas from Ibarra, anchovies à la donostiarra with garlic, fresh fish, Tolosa beans, Txangurros (spider crabs) San Sebastian is also one of the few cities to have three restaurants with three Michelin stars.
Culture and festivals: European Capital of Culture in 2016. San Sebastian Film Festival (September), San Sebastian Jazz Festival (mid-July). Tamborrada (January). Feria, Donostikluba (electronic music). Kursaal Palace.  
Sports: Real Sociedad (football), Bera Bera Rugby, surfing.
Events: Clasica San Sebastian (cycling), Behobia-San Sebastian (running).
Economy: seaside tourism, congresses. University, shops.
Nickname: the pearl of the Cantabrian Sea.
Basque name: Donostia.
Websites / FB / Twitter / Instagram: / www.donostia.eus /

Parc Cristina Enea © Donostia San Sebasti+ín Turismoa
Plage de la Concha © Donostia San Sebasti+ín Turismoa


San Sebastian hosted the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 1992 with a prologue won by Miguel Indurain, while Frenchman Dominique Arnould won the first stage around the city the following day. In 1949, for the Tour's first visit to Spain, another Frenchman, Louis Caput, won in town. In 1997, the world championships held there were particularly successful for French cycling, with Laurent Brochard winning the road race and Laurent Jalabert the time trial. Jeannie Longo won the women's time trial.  The seaside resort is mainly known to today's riders as the home of Spain's biggest classic, the Clasica San Sebastian, which has been held there every August since 1981. The last winner was Remco Evenepoel, who has already won in 2019. Francesco Casagrande, Laurent Jalabert, Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde have also achieved the double, but the record holder of victories is Marino Lejaretta, who has won the race three times.  Among the local riders, we can mention Abraham Olano, from Anoeta, 25 km away. World road champion in 1995, winner of the Vuelta in 1998. Olano won a time trial in the Tour de France in 1997, his only victory in the Grande Boucle in eight participations. He finished 4th in Paris that same year. Pello Ruiz Cabestany, winner of three stages in the Tour of Spain, also won a stage in the Tour de France in 1986. His brother Jorge took part in the 1981 Tour. Closer to home, "Chente" Garcia Acosta took part in 12 Tours de France between 1997 and 2008, winning a solo stage in 2000. He also has two stage wins in the Vuelta. Since 2013, he has been sports director of Movistar. In the Spanish team, he was for a long time the colleague of another native of San Sebastian, Jose Luis Arrieta, who has raced ten times in the Grande Boucle.

Remco Evenepoel, vainqueur de la Clasica San Sebastian en 2019 © Pressesports/Karlis/Sunada
Abraham Olano sur le Tour d'Espagne 1998 © Pressesports/Fevres
Joseba Beloki lors du Tour de France 2003 © Pressesports/Papon


Kursaal Palace
Construction: inaugurated in 1999.
Architect: Rafael Moneo
Characteristics: the Kursaal Palace or Kursaal Congress and Auditorium is an architectural complex consisting of an auditorium, a theatre, multi-purpose rooms and exhibition halls. It is the venue for the annual San Sebastian Film Festival. It consists of two large-pressed glass cubes separated by a terrace with views of the sea.
History: The original Kursaal was inaugurated in 1921 in front of the Gros beach. It became an emblematic building of the city but was demolished in the 1960s due to lack of profitability and the ban on casinos. A new building, the Solar K, was built in 1972, but in turn gave way to the new Kursaal.  

San Sebastian Film Festival
Established: 1953
History: Held every year in September and known to Spaniards as the Zinemaldia, it is considered the most important film festival in Spain and even in the Hispanic world. The festival's main prize, since its creation, is the Golden Shell. The selection includes some fifteen feature films in competition and two to three films screened out of competition during the week of the festival.
Prize list: the greatest directors (Dino Risi, Fred Zinneman, Marlon Brando, Elia Kazan, Francis Ford Coppola, Eric Rohmer, Terrence Malick, Marco Ferreri, Claude Chabrol) were awarded a Golden Shell. The 2022 Golden Shell went to Laura Mora's Los Reyes del Mundo.    

Victoria Eugenia Theatre
Built: 1912
Architect: Francisco de Urcola
Style: Neo-Renaissance
Features: The theatre hosted all the editions of the San Sebastian International Film Festival until 1999, during which events such as the world premieres of Alfred Hitchcock's Cold Sweat and North by Northwestern were held.
History: named after Victoire-Eugénie de Battenberg, wife of Alfonso XIII. Between 2001 and 2007 a thorough restoration process was carried out on the theatre. Throughout its century of history, it has been the epicentre of the city's cultural life. 

Town Hall
Construction: 1887.
History: originally the town's casino, inaugurated with great fanfare in 1887, the building was recycled into a tourist office in 1928 after gambling was banned in 1924. The building has housed the town hall since 1945.  

Good Shepherd Cathedral
Construction: 1889 to 1899
Style: neo-gothic
History: it took eight years to complete the building, designed by architect Manuel de Echave. It was officially inaugurated in 1897 in the presence of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Mother Maria Cristina. From being a simple parish under the bishopric of Vitoria, the Church of the Good Shepherd became the cathedral of the new diocese of San Sebastian when it was created in 1949.
Characteristics: Manuel de Echave was inspired by German religious architecture, in particular the cathedral in Cologne. Based on a Latin cross plan, the nave is bordered by aisles (triple nave), which are doubled at the level of the apse (quintuple nave). However, unlike many cathedrals in the region, the apse has no ambulatory. The total length of the nave is 64 metres, with a vaulted height of 25 metres.  

Mota Castle
Construction: 12th century
Style: medieval.
Features: it is located on top of Mount Urgull, a rocky massif to the north of the city at a height of 120 metres above sea level.
History: the castle dates back to 1150, when Sancho the Great of Navarre ordered the construction of a watchtower for defence and erected the first wall around the town. San Fuerte of Navarre rebuilt and fortified it and later Alfonso VIII of Castile made various improvements.
Current destination: the castle currently houses an exhibition dedicated to the history of the town, which combines original pieces with a series of reconstructions, engravings, historical photographs and multimedia materials that provide the keys to understanding the history of the town. Among these different types of items is an interesting collection of cannons displayed inside the exhibition and in the courtyard of the castle and other places on Mount Urgull.
Listing: national monument since 1984.

Victoria Eugenia theatre in San Sebastian, Spain © Getty/ Borisb17
Spanien, San Sebastián, Rathaus, Europa Eng.: Europe, Spain, San Sebastián, townhall, leisure, travel, Basque Country, Iberian Peninsula, Atlantic Coast, Gipuzkoa Province © Donostia San Sebasti+ín Turismoa
Good Shepherd Cathedral of San Sebastian - Basque Country, Spain © Getty/Leonid Andronov
In Medina del Campo, from the province of Valladolid, Spain. © Getty/JoseIgnacioSoto
Zurriola beach and mount urgull at dusk with Kursaal Congress Centre reflected on water © Getty/Eloi_Omella



Almost all of San Sebastian's most typical dishes come from the sea, such as kokotxa or hake jowl in green sauce. The kokotxa is the base of the lower part of the hake's chin, the word meaning chin in Basque. It is usually prepared with chopped garlic cloves, parsley and olive oil in an earthenware casserole, simmered and not browned, and salt is added. After removing it from the heat, the gelatine is removed by moving it back and forth. This must be done at least twice so that all the gelatine comes out and the sauce thickens. The dish is usually served very hot in the same cazuela.

Chin of cod in pil pil sauce as "Kokotxas de bacalao al pil pil" in the Basque Country in Spain © Getty/Sima_ha

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