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Just 15 minutes from the border with France, San Sebastian offers travellers a wide range of places that will be of interest to tourists. A good time to visit the city is during September, when the Film Festival is held.
Most of San Sebastian looks out on to the sea. By strolling along the sea walks of its three main beaches – the Concha, Ondarreta and Zurriola, in the area of Gros - –travellers can enjoy an unforgettable walk. It starts at the foot of Mount Igueldo, where you can see the famous sculptures of Eduardo Chillida, which form the “Peine de los Vientos” (the comb of the Winds). From there, and after having enjoyed the rough sea that penetrates the orifices of Chillida’s great bronze blocks, the walk continues along the Ondarreta beach, bordering impressive mansions and with the Miramar Palace in the background. This building was opened in 1893 and was the official summer residence of the Regent Queen María Cristina.
Following the walk along the magnificent beach of the Concha, you reach the fishing port and the old part of the city, where it is recommended to lose yourself in the pleasure of going on a “txikiteo” – going from bar to bar and drinking small glasses of the local white wine, called “txakolí”, or red or rosé wine. You can also go on a tour of the bars and have “pinxtos” or “tapas” (snacks). Gastronomy in the Basque Country means much more than just eating and drinking, it is a culinary art enjoyed with all the senses. Its meat and fish are of incomparable quality and it is worth trying its Tolosa beans, anchovies, baby eels, Marmitako (a Basque speciality made of tuna stewed with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and peppers), scrambled eggs with mushrooms and a long list of local specialities. They can be enjoyed in the city’s restaurants, which are ranked among the best in the world.
In the old part of the city and in the Boulevard area, you will find several places of interest, such as the Town Hall, a building which was initially the city’s Casino, or the Cathedral of the “Buen Pastor” (Good Shepherd), located in the district of Amara. This is a work of Manuel de Echave, an architect from San Sebastian. The church covers an area of 1,915 square meters and was opened in 1897. In the area around the port, you will find the Aquarium, a marine science museum, inaugurated in 1928 and which stands out as one of the oldest in Spain. The area around the port has a lot of charm: with its traditional fishing boats, called “txalupas” and the aroma of grilled sardines coming from the large number of restaurants which can be found in the area.
Following the route, always in contact with the sea and bordering Mount Urgull, the traveller reaches the beach of Zurriola, in the district of Gros. There you will find the impressive auditorium-Congress building called Kursaal, a latest generation building, divised by the architect, Rafael Moneo from Navarre. Praised by some and criticised by others, this auditorium is the present venue of the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Very close by, and on the banks of the river Urumea, there is another sign of identity of the city, the magestic Reina Victoria theatre and the Hotel María Cristina. These two impressive buildings were witnesses to an epoch when Spanish aristocracy spent their summer holidays there. Today, there are still two of the city’s landmarks, despite the fact that the Theatre is no longer the official venue of the Film Festival.
San Sebastian, all in all, offers everything a traveller could wish for: good gastronomy, beautiful beaches, cultural events, the hospitality of its people and an opportunity to get to know what is probably the prettiest city in Spain. “ONGI ETORRI” – “Welcome” in the Basque language.