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About San Sebastian

San Sebastián

 

is a coastal cityand municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community,Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km (12 miles) from the French border. Capital city of Gipuzkoa, the municipality's population is 186,409 (2012), with its metropolitan area reaching 436,500 (2010). Locals call themselvesdonostiarra (singular), both in Spanish and Basque.

The main economic activities are commerce and tourism, and it is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Spain.. Despite the city’s small size, events such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival have given it an international dimension. San Sebastián, along with WrocławPoland, will be the European Capital of Culture in 2016..

 

 

San Sebastián

 


San Sebastián and Kontxa bay from Igeldo mountain
San Sebastián and Kontxa bay from Igeldo mountain

 
Flag of San Sebastián
Flag
Official seal of San Sebastián
Seal

 

Motto: «Ganadas por fidelidad, nobleza y lealtad»
(Spanish for "Earnt by fidelity, nobility and loyalty")

 

 

Geography

 
Monuments of the city

 

Panoramic view of the Bay of La Concha (Bahía de la Concha/Kontxako Badia) at day

 

The city is in the north of the Basque Country, on the southern coast of the Bay of Biscay. San Sebastián's picturesque shoreline makes it a popular beach resort. The seaside environment is enhanced by hilly surroundings that are easily accessible, i.e., Urgull (at the heart of the city by the seashore), romantic Mount Ulia extending east to Pasaia, MountAdarra rising proud far on the south and Igeldo, overlooking the bay from the west.

The city sits at the mouth of the River Urumea, Donostia having been built to a large extent over the river's wetlands during the last two centuries. In fact, the city centre and the districts of Amara Berri and Riberas de Loiola lie on such terrain and the former bed of the river, diverted to its current canalized course in the first half of the 20th century.

 

 

Parts of the city

 

Façade of the Constitution Square (Plaza) in San Sebastián

 

As a result of Donostia's sprawling in all directions, first into the flatlands shaped by the river Urumea and later up the hills, new districts arose after the walls of the city were demolished in 1863. The first expansion of the old town stretched out to the river's mouth, on the old quarter called Zurriola (a name later given by Council decision to the sand area and the avenue across the river).

The orthogonal layout nowadays making up the city centre (the Cortazar development) was built up to 1914 (first phase finished) much in tune with a Parisian Haussmannian style. The arcades of the Buen Pastor square were fashioned after the ones of the Rue de Rivoli, with the Maria Cristina Bridge being inspired by the Pont Alexandre III that spans the Seine. :257 The Estación del Norte train station standing right across the bridge was inaugurated in 1864 just after the arrival of the railway to San Sebastián, with its metallic roof being designed by Gustave Eiffel.

 

 

Parte Vieja

 

The Parte Vieja (Old Town) is the traditional core area of the city, and was surrounded by walls up to 1863, when they were demolished so as to occupy the stretch of sand and land that connected the town to the mainland (a stretch of the walls still limits the Old Part on its exit to the port through the Portaletas gate). The Old Part is divided in two parishes relating to the Santa Maria and San Vicente churches, the inhabitants belonging to the former being dubbed traditionallyjoxemaritarrak, while those attached to the latter are referred to as koxkeroak. Historically, the koxkeroak up to the early 18th century were largely Gascon speaking inhabitants. Especially after the end of Franco's dictatorship, scores of bars sprang up all over the Old Part which are very popular with the youth and the tourists, although not as much with the local residents. Most current buildings trace back to the 19th century, erected thanks to the concerted effort and determination of the town dwellers after the 1813 destruction of the town by the allied Anglo-Portuguese troops...There is a small fishing and recreation port, with two-floor picturesque houses lined under the front-wall of the mount Urgull. Yet these houses are relatively new, resulting from the demilitarization of the hill, sold to the city council by the Ministry of War in 1924.

 

Zurriola Bridge and mouth of the Urumea

 

 

Antiguo

 

This part stands at the west side of the city beyond the Miramar Palace. It is arguably the first population nucleus, even before the land at the foot of Urgull (Old Part) was settled. A monastery of San Sebastián el Antiguo ('the Old') is attested in documents at the time of the foundation (12th century). At the mid 19th century, industry developed (Cervezas El LeónSuchardLizarriturry), the nucleus coming to be populated by workers. Industry has since been replaced by services and the tourist sector. The Matia kalea provides the main axis for the district.

 

Miramar Palace

 

 

History

 

Early 20th century residential building (city centre)

 
Venue of the Regional Government in the Gipuzkoa Plaza

 
Victoria Eugenia Theatre at night

 
Maria Cristina Hotel

 
Port of San Sebastián in 1890

 
Igeldo Lighthouse
Donostia's Amara before river canalization in the mid 20th century

 
Ondarreta gardens, and former prison by the beach (far background)

 
Loiola. Outlying rural areas were absorbed during the 1960s (Loiola)

 
Kursaal Palace and Kursaal Bridge at night


 

Prehistory

 

The first evidence of human stationary presence in the current city is the settlement of Ametzagaña, between South Intxaurrondo and Astigarraga. The unearthed remains, such as carved stone used as knives to cut animal skin, date from 24,000 to 22,000 BC. The open-air findings of the Upper Paleolithic have revealed that the settlers were hunters and Homo Sapiens, besides pointing to a much colder climate at the time..

 

Ancient Age

 

San Sebastián is thought to have been in the territory of the Varduli in Roman times. 10 km (6 mi) east of the current city lay the Basque Roman town of Oiasso (Irun), which was for a long time wrongly identified with San Sebastián.

 

Middle Age

 

After a long period of silence in evidence, in 1014 the monastery of St. Sebastián with its apple orchards (for cider), located in the term of Hernani, is donated to the Abbey of Leire by Sancho III of Pamplona. By 1181, the city is chartered (given fuero) by king Sancho VI of Pamplona on the site of Izurum, having jurisdiction over all the territory between the rivers Oria and Bidasoa.

In 1200, the city was conquered by Castile, whose king Alfonso VIII, confirmed its charter (fuero), but the Kingdom of Navarre was deprived of its main direct access out to the sea. Perhaps as soon as 1204 (or earlier), the city nucleus at the foot of Urgull started to be populated with Gascon-speaking colonizers from Bayonne and beyond, who left an important imprint in the city's identity in the centuries to come..

In 1265, the use of the city as a seaport is granted to Navarre as part of a wedding pact. The large quantity of Gascons inhabiting the town favoured the development of trade with other European ports and Gascony. The city steered clear of the destructive War of the Bands in Gipuzkoa, the only town in doing so in that territory. In fact, the town only joined Gipuzkoa in 1459 after the war came to an end..Up to the 16th century, Donostia remained mostly out of wars, but by the beginning of the 15th century, a line of walls of simple construction is attested encircling the town. The last chapter of the town in the Middle Ages was brought about by a fire that devastated Donostia in 1489. After burning to the ground, the town began a new renaissance by building up mainly on stone instead of bare timber.


 

Modern Age

 

The advent of the Modern Age brought a period of instability and war for the city. After the fall of Navarre, new state boundaries started to be drawn that left Donostia at the forefront of the Spanish border with France. New chunky and more sophisticated walls were erected and the town got involved in the wars engaged between Spain and France on the aftermath of the disappearance of the independent Kingdom of Navarre in 1521. Actually, the town provided critical naval help to the Spanish king on the frontier disputes that took place in Hondarribia, which earned the town the titles "Muy Noble y Muy Leal", recorded on its coat of arms. Moreover, the town took sides with the new emperor Charles V by sending a party to the Battle of Noain and providing help to the emperor against the Revolt of the Comuneros.

After the conquest of the Iberian Navarre and the attachment of Donostia toGipuzkoa, Gascons, who had played a leading role in the political and economic life of the town since its foundation, began to be excluded from influential public positions by means of a string of regional sentences upheld by royal decision (regional diets of Zestoa 1527, Hondarribia 1557, Bergara 1558, Tolosa 1604 and Deba 1662)..Meanwhile, the climate of war and disease left the town in a poor condition that drove many fishermen and traders to take to the sea as corsairs as a way of getting a living, most of the times under the auspices of the king Philip II of Spain, who benefited from the disruption caused to and wealth obtained from the French and Dutch trade ships.

In 1656, the city was used as the royal headquarters during the marriage of the Infanta to Louis XIV at Saint-Jean-de-Luz nearby. After a relatively peaceful 17th century, the town was besieged and taken over by the troops of the French Duke of Berwick up to 1721. However, San Sebastián was not spared by shelling in the French assault and many urban structures were reconstructed, e.g. a new opening in the middle of the town, the Plaza Berria (that was to become the current Konstituzio Plaza).

In 1728, the "Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas was founded and boosted commerce with the Americas. Thanks to the profit the company generated, the town underwent some urban reforms and improvements and the new Santa Maria Church was erected by subscription. This period of wealth and development was to last up to the end of 18th century..

In 1808, Napoleonic forces captured San Sebastián in the Peninsular War. In 1813, after a siege of various weeks, on 28 August, during the night, a landing party from a British Royal Navy squadron captured Santa Clara Island, in the bay. Situated on a narrow promontory that jutted out into the sea between the waters of the Bay of Biscay and the broad estuary of the Urumea River, the town was hard to get at and well fortified – "it was the strongest fortification I ever saw, Gibraltar excepted", wrote William Dent..Three days later, on 31 August, British and Portuguese troops besieging San Sebastián assaulted the town. The relieving troops ransacked and burnt the city to the ground. Only the street at the foot of the hill (now called 31 August Street) remained.


 

Contemporary history

 

After the destructive events, the reconstruction of the city was decided in the same spot with an only slightly altered layout, since a modern octagonal draft project by the architect P.M. Ugartemendia was turned down and eventually M. Gogorza's blueprint was approved, while supervised and implemented by the former. This area, the Old Part, oozes neoclassical, austere and systematic style in its architectural construction. The Constitution Square was built in 1817 and the town hall (current library) between 1828 and 1832.. Housing works were carried out gradually during various decades until they were achieved.

The liberal and bourgeois San Sebastián became capital of Gipuzkoa (at the expense of Tolosa) until 1823, when absolutists assailed the town again (only 200 inhabitants remained in town when the assaulting troops broke in), but it was made capital city again in 1854..In 1833, British volunteers under SirGeorge de Lacy Evans defended the town against Carlist attack, and their fallen were buried at the "English Cemetery" on the hill Urgull.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the local government was still ruled on the principle of nobility, while the inhabitants of foreign origin or descent had always been ubiquitous in the town, especially the traders. Although San Sebastián benefited greatly from the charts system established in the Basque Country(foruak, with borders in the Ebro river and no duties for overseas goods), the town was at odds with the more traditional Gipuzkoa, even requesting the detachment from the province and the annexation to Navarre in 1841.

In 1863, the defensive walls of the town were demolished (their remains are visible in the underground car-park at the Boulevard) and an expansion of the town began in an attempt to escape the military function it had held before.[12]Works were appointed to Jose Goicoa and Ramon Cortazar, who modeled the new city according to an orthogonal shape much in an neoclassical Parisian style, and the former designed elegant buildings, like the Miramar Palace, or the Concha Promenade.[9]:145–146 The city was chosen by the Spanish monarchy to spend the summer following the French example of the near Biarritz. Subsequently the Spanish nobility and the diplomatic corps opened residences in the summer capital. As the "wave baths" at La Concha conflicted with shipbuilding activity, shipyards relocated to Pasaia, a near bay formerly part of San Sebastián.

 

 

 

 

SOURCE : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Sebasti%C3%A1n


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