Vitoria-Gasteiz, historical, green, dynamic and a city of gastronomy…
Vitoria-Gasteiz, a city of over 240,000 inhabitants and the capital of the Basque Country, is acknowledged for its strong environmental character. Vitoria-Gasteiz was awarded the 2012 European Green Capital title, and has become an environmental benchmark for Europe.
Vitoria is also the 2014 Spanish Capital of Gastronomy, a prize for the city that stands proud because of the quality of its products as well as of its professionals and dining venues. This award brings a unique opportunity to discover and enjoy Vitoria-Gasteiz, a lively and attractive city for very diverse audiences.
The historical patrimony
Vitoria-Gasteiz has a historic site which has remarkably well-preserved its medieval layout and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997. Three Europa Nostra awards recognize the work done in the rehabilitation to recover areas and emblematic buildings of the city. The restoration of the medieval city walls, which can be visited, and the Santa María Cathedral with its pioneer programme “Open for works”, where visitors became part of the rehabilitation process, stand out among others. The Santa Maria Cathedral has attracted writers and intellectuals of international repute such as Ken Follett, who was inspired by the cathedral to write his novel World Without End.
The Green Capital
Vitoria-Gasteiz is a city internationally recognized for its environmental character. Highlights include a large number of urban parks and green areas that are available for walking, running and cycling. The “Green Belt”, a group of peri-urban parks of high ecological and landscape value which surround the city, provides rich and diverse flora and fauna within few meters from the city centre. It also offers plenty of green spaces with pedestrians and bicycle paths, rest areas, wetlands, bird observatories, a botanic garden and a centre of Nature Interpretation that allows for the enjoyment of all visitors.
Vitoria-Gasteiz hosts several national and international events throughout the year. The Azkena Rock Festival and the Jazz Festival are the two most significant musical events, both distinguished for the top quality of their programmes featuring internationally renowned musicians in their respective musical styles.
Each year, the city also organizes a prestigious International Theatre Festival, an International Magic Festival unprecedented in Europe and a Television Festival consolidated as the annual meeting-point for Spanish TV channels.
The city's own facilities makes it an ideal venue for sporting events, thus Vitoria-Gasteiz has always been firmly committed to organizing such events including the 2012 Triathlon and Triathlon Challenge World championships.
The culinary tradition of Vitoria-Gasteiz with numerous restaurants and the so-called “pintxo” bars (tapas are called pintxos in the Basque Country) together with its proximity to the high-quality wine region Rioja Alavesa, makes Vitoria-Gasteiz a city of enogastronomic interest.
The surroundings of Vitoria-Gasteiz provides for the following enogastronomic treasures:
Along with the Rioja Baja and Rioja Alta zones of the region, the Rioja Alavesa wines are included in the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin. The Rioja Alavesa vineyards number close to 13,000 hectares that produce excellent wines, whether reserva (wine aged for at least three years), crianza (wine aged for at least two years) or year wine. Around 400 wineries (commonly referred to as bodegas) produce more than 100 million bottles per year manufactured under the control of the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin Regulatory Board, which has conferred international prestige to this Basque corner wines.
The wines of Rioja Alavesa enjoy a well-deserved international reputation and its quality is largely due to its geographical location behind the Cantabria mountains which protect the vines from he cold north winds, and the care and dedication of local people who combine traditional production processes with new technologies.
The Rioja Alavesa region also offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a uniquely beautiful landscape, best examples of architecture, varied wine-related activities and an exceptional combination of internationally recognized wines and the best gastronomy.
Salt Valley of Añana
The singularity of the Salt Valley of Añana and its recovery project attracts thousands of visitors. Therefore, the Salt Valley has been put forward as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also of cultural interest and is included in the list of Wetlands of International Importance of the Ramsar Convention.
The Salt Valley, located in Salinas de Añana within the Basque province of Alava, produces one of the world’s most prized salts: Añana Salt. It is the fruit of natural evaporation of brine from local springs, and its unique salt crystals are the result of three factors: the sun, the wind and the traditional techniques used by the salt makers.