The Guggenheim Museum is a truely unique work of modern architecture that has put Bilbao firmly on the tourist map but it is not the only architectural gem to be found in Bilbao or the rest of Basque Country.
Cities such as Vitoria and San Sebastian, can boast many fine buildings from different eras as can many of the towns and villages throughout the Basque region where an abundance of historic monasteries, churches and popular buildings are still well preserved.
Arrive in Vitoria, capital of the Basque Country.
Today visit the historical part of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the Casco Viejo. Begin your tour in the Plaza de la Virgin Blanca ascending to the Old Quarter via the stairs of the Church of San Miguel. Here you will find a statue of the Virgin Blanca (White Virgin), patron saint of Vitoria. Next continue to the Plaza del Machete along a beautiful path, visiting on the way the Renaissance Palaces of Villa Suso and Escorriaza-Esquivel, the city’s old water reservoir; now an exhibition hall linked to the Palacio de Montehermoso, the remains of a medieval wall that once encircled the city and the Fournier Museum of Cards.
Next visit the restoration and excavation project taking place at the Santa Maria Cathedral. This tour allows you to travel back in time and admire a Gothic temple originally constructed as part of the city’s defensive wall. Its remaining guard towers, narrow defensive windows and long sentry paths are evidence of its militaristic history. Unlike a visit to a museum, here you actually witness the on-going process of restoration and experience first-hand, an authentic archaeological site. Accommodation in Vitoria.
Depart for Bilbao. Panoramic tour of Bilbao (detailed itinerary provided to each client) will give you the opportunity to witness the new project of development in Bilbao, known as “Bilbao Ría 2000”. The suggested tour includes a visit to the Abando metro designed by Norman Foster, the houses of Amezola, the Euskalduna Palace of Congress as well as the Zubi- Zuri bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. The tour continues to Portugalete to view the first ever hanging transporter bridge still in operation today.
In the afternoon, visit the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry, a masterpiece of modern architecture from the end of the 20th century. Return to Vitoria.
Panoramic visit of Vitoria-Gasteiz (detailed itinerary provided to each client) will show you a city that has successfully managed to keep a harmonious balance between its monumental legacy of the past and the present. A plan of urban development using the latest construction techniques has given rise to a city both functional and hospitable. You will see the many foot-ways, green areas, cycle-paths, cultural and sport centres that Vitoria has to offer as well as the prestigious residential area where lies, among other majestic villas, Ajuria Enea, the house of the Basque Prime Minister. See also the Stadium Araba Arena, recently enlarged to receive an increasing number of basketball fans. Accommodation in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Today drive to San Millan de la Cogolla to see the monasteries of Yuso and Suso. They are considered to be the Patrons of Humanity, birthplace of the Castillian language, and the site where the first written scripts of the Basque and Spanish languages were discovered.
Afterwards travelling through La Rioja you will pass the vineyards that produce one of the finest wines in the world. Stop in Laguardia and visit the Villa Lucía wine cellar and museum, where you will interactively learn about the different aspects of wine culture. Nearby you can see some of the modern wineries that have started to appear in Rioja and are adding a fresh and exciting look to the Riojan landscape. In Elciego, one of the oldest Riojan wineries; Marques de Riscal, boasts an exciting 5 star hotel designed with Guggenheim flair by none other than, Frank Gehry. Return to Vitoria and overnight.
Today travel north to Hernani situated near San Sebastian and visit the museum of world renowned Basque artist, Eduardo Chillida; Chillida-Leku. The museum, housed in a restored Basque Farmhouse surrounded by peaceful gardens, stands out for its unique design and is in fact an art piece in itself.
Afterwards visit the stadium of Anoeta and the large complex of Txingudi, a covered bullring that is also used for other performances (its enormous roof can be opened in less than 5 minutes). Visit also the new technological centre in Miramon and its science museum.
Continue to San Sebastian. Tour the Old Town and walk along the la Concha promenade. See artworks including the Pico del Loro and Peine de los Vientos designed by Eduardo Chillida. See also the controversial Kursaal Centre, opened in 1999 and designed by Rafael Moneo. Overnight San Sebastian.
Today travel inland through stunning mountainous countryside to visit the remarkable Basilica of San Ignacio de Loyola in Azpeitia. Afterwards see the dramatically sited Sanctuary of Aranzazu, an award-winning modern basilica designed by several modern day architects including Eduardo Chillida. From here visit the Hermitage of Zumarraga built in the 12th century, which displays an extraordinary combination of wood and stonework. Next to Onati, a splendid university town compared by many to Toledo. Return to San Sebastian and overnight.
If departing from Bilbao in the evening it would be possible today to visit the historical town of Gernika, where you visit the Casa de Juntas and the symbolic tree of Gernika, a spiritual site for all Basques. Departure.
If you like the look of the above Suggested Tour we will gladly prepare a quote for you. The itinerary is not rigid and can be modified to suit your needs.
Below is a selection of the accommodation we would recommend for this tour. Click on the Hotel Code or symbol for photographs and detailed information about each property. If you have registered to use our Spain Travel & Holiday Planner, you need only click on to insert it into your itinerary.
|Architecture in the Basque Country||Hotel Code||Classification||Information|
|4 nights in Vitoria||TBC56||Central Hotel|
|2 nights in San Sebastian||TBC88||Country Hotel|