Some years ago on a university holiday, I had the opportunity to visit the incomparably beautiful city of San Sebastian. I particularly liked the chance to admire this exceptional building, right at the edge of the sea. It was stormy the day I went, and the breaking waves made it seem even more beautiful, but unfortunately the weather prevented me from taking pictures outside. This building was designed by Rafael Moneo and is the conference centre of San Sebastian.
It has stunning contemporary architecture: the first thing that strikes you is its facade, composed entirely of glass. By day it looked like a closed box from the outside, but when we entered, we were surprised by the amount of light within. At night it seems like a light box. The interior is designed for events and high-level meetings and cultural performances. The grand staircase is found at the entrance, with alternating sections that don't rise so steeply, but if you prefer, there are also elevators available. The auditorium is one of its strengths: the seats are foldable but comfortable. I didn't have the chance to enjoy a concert here, but I'm sure the acoustics are fantastic.
This is a beautiful park, in one of the most expensive areas of the city. It's a very nice place to take the kids, as there's a large pond with ducks and swans, a number of paths to go for walks, a large playground, and even a small artificial cave. Many wedding photos are taken here, and you'll also find the Palace of Aiete, used by General Franco as a summer residence, which is currently being renovated.
I don't like anything about this! Okay, so I've never liked modern art, and placing this monument in the Paseo Nuevo of San Sebastian ... I just can't understand why. It was made by the sculptor Jorge Oteiza, and was placed here in 2002, just a few years before he died. Personally, I can't stand it ... maybe you don't mind it, but I hate it!
This beautiful bridge was built in 1905, linking the area of the train station with the city centre, on the other side of the River Urumea. Inspired by the Pont Alexandre III in Paris, it is a true work of art, with four sculpted points where the bridge joins earth. Without a doubt, one of the most spectacular bridges in the Iberian peninsula.
Recently restored, this is situated in the old part of town, and has an eye-catching facade. If we stand in the doorway facing the main street, we can see the cathedral in the background. Above the door, there is a little niche with a sculpture of St. Sebastian (patron of the city), depicted as he usually is, pierced by arrows. The image of the saint can also be found inside, in a painting by Boccia on the altar.
This is one of the secret corners of this coastal city. A few kilometres from the centre, we found this wonderful mountain, full of trails along the cliffs, and in the woods. It's the perfect place to go with children, collecting leaves, pine cones, or chestnuts. The cliff path is quite narrow, so be careful, but the views are beautiful. There is a playground, and also picnic tables. It's a popular weekend hangout.
This is one of the secret hidden corners of the city of San Sebastian, a small shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. To get there, we headed towards the old Ondaretta beach - but not to the funicular. If I remember correctly, you should follow the signs towards the Hotel Avenida. The best place to park is at Rekondo Restaurant, next to the hotel, and you'll find a small paved road that will lead you to the grotto in just a couple of minutes. The sign at the entrance asks you not to spread the ashes of the deceased here. During the month of February, they perform various services and masses here.
This statue is located at the highest point of Mount Urgull. From up there the views are spectacular. You can see San Sebastian's two famous beaches (Ondarreta and Concha), and the mountains ... they are currently renovating the statue, but it should be finished by the summer of 2009.
This lighthouse dates back to 1744, and has been popularly known as the Faroa since its opening in 1748. The lighthouse is lit from September to May. It was destroyed during the War of Independence, and its reconstruction was ordered by the Duke of Wellington. The British Legion fortified it with guns, but it was later destroyed again. The old Faroa is now a lookout over the city, and the new lighthouse, built on the slopes of the mountain in 1855, is located at 134 meters above sea level. The original paraffin lamp was replaced by oil in 1916, but in 1918, it was electrified following the oil shortage due to World War I. In 1929, a more powerful light was added, and the range increased to 26 miles.
Boats depart to Santa Clara Island at regular intervals from June 1st to September 30th. On this island, apart from a pier and a bar (in summer) there are also picnic areas, restrooms and a lighthouse. The latter was built in 1864, replacing the Augustine chapel of St. Bartholomew that stood there until the nineteenth century.
San Sebastian is a history with a long, varied and unique history - a military encampment in the fifteenth century, a tourist area for French and Spanish bourgeousie, and a royal resort in the nineteenth century. Today it's a lovely city with unique natural areas like the Bay of La Concha, the elegant buildings that line the promenade, the Alderdi Eder Gardens, the harbour, Mount Urgull ... the three city beaches are great, with La Concha being the best. I'm not much of a writer, but take a look at these photos and videos and you can see a small sample of what awaits you in this amazing city.