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Vitoria is the capital of the Basque government and lies 65km south of Bilbao in the Navarra and La Rioja region of Spain.
Vitoria, also known as Gasteiz, is built on the highest point of the provence. Vitoria became a very prosperous town due to the trade of iron and wool and has a number of fine buildings.
Visit Vitoria, Spain
Vitoria is a pleasant town with a relaxed atmosphere, lots of excellent Basque restaurants and bars and some beautiful Renaissance palaces and impressive churches. It is relatively quiet, not being on the main tourist trail, making it a very relaxing place to visit.
To visit the old town of Vitoria start at the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca which has a large memorial to a battle fought nearby where the Duke of Wellington defeated the French in 1813. All around the plaza are lovely old houses with 'miradors' (windowed balconies). On the hillside above the square is the Gothic church of San Miguel.
Walk from the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca to the old cathedral (Vitoria has two cathedrals) of Santa Maria, meandering through the streets as you go. Make sure you see the 16th century Palacio de Escoriaza-Esquibel with its Plateresque (early Renaissance) patio. Around here are lots of narrow alleys and steep steps. It is particularly lively on a night.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria was begun in the 13th century, when it was part of the city defences, and then in Renaissance times building work took place to beautify it. Unfortunately this led to structural problems and some major restaration has had to take place. It has a Gothic west door with finely carved saints above it.
Close to the cathedral is a lovely 15th century merchants house, the El Portalon, which is now home to a fine restaurant.
One of the highlights of a visit to Vitoria is the 18th century Plaza de Espana, a beautiful arcaded square, and the adjoining arcaded street of Los Aqruillos.
Museums in Vitoria
The Museo de Arqueologia is housed in a half-timbered 16th century building and includes exhibits from Roman and medieval times.
The Museo de Naipes houses various colections of playing cards including some Tarot cards designed by Salvador Dali.
The Museo de Armeria has collections of weapons and armour.
The Museo de Belles Artes are housed in a Neo-Renaissance mansion and include works by Ribera and Picasso.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Navarra, La Rioja, Basque Country guide.