Art and culture
This is the way we are
In Gipuzkoa a wide variety of cultural expressions coexist which, based on tradition or on the avant-garde, end up saying the same thing: what is really important is to come together and recognize ourselves in this shared treasure, in these creative efforts.
Here you can immerse yourself in one of the oldest cultures that has existed in Europe. We can’t take the credit for this, it goes way back. We are characterized by having the oldest living language on the continent and some singular customs. You can learn about us through archaeological remains or cave paintings, our fiestas, traditions and local sports, museums where we display our history and our present or through internationally renowned avant-garde artists.
Traditional and identity-based elements coexist with contemporary and cutting-edge aspects in all kinds of creative forms of expression. Gipuzkoa, in all its variety, is a unique powerful culture that you will be imbued with at every single corner with an extraordinary richness that we would like to share with you.
The different ways discover us
In Gipuzkoa we have museums in every sense. You have them to look at and feel, to learn and to enjoy, to remember and imagine things, and of course, to be tasted as well.
Some have proper names, like Chillida Leku, a wood full of sculptures where the great artist’s work is concentrated, or the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, devoted to the fashion designer from Getaria. Many of the subjects stir up passions, like the Railway Museum, which includes a trip in wooden carriages driven by a steam locomotive, or the Puppet Museum in Tolosa, suitable for illusions of any age.
The San Telmo Museum has 120 years of history behind it but also provides us with a critical and creative look at contemporary society. You’ll find the influence of Carlism on life in Guipuzcoa in the XIX century in the Zumalakarregi Musuem and the influence of the Romans in the Oiasso Museum in Irun. Don’t miss how they used to build the primitive whaling ships and other fishing boats in the old Albaola shipyard in Pasai San Pedro. Even iron has its own thematic museum; and cider and Idiazabal cheese. Options for all the family and for all tastes. It’s impossible for you to get bored.
The soul of every village
In the past we were a turbulent province, with wars of the bands and conflicts among kingdoms. It was only when they died down that the construction of our churches and chapels could flourish.
You can make a summary of different periods and styles from the late Romanesque church of La Antigua, in Zumarraga (called the Cathedral of the hermitages), to the Baroque basilica of St Ignatius of Loyola, with its majestic dome that makes it stand out from other religious expressions, and round off the visit with the avant-garde Sanctuary of Arantzazu in Oñati, where in the 1950s artists as important as Oteiza, Chillida, Basterretxea or Sáenz de Oiza came together, which is like listing the first team of our national side of the Arts.
However all over Gipuzkoa there are significant examples of religious architecture. Circular chapels (Erdoizta), minimalist structures designed by Moneo (Iesu, in Donostia), or the fascinating tour of the gothic temples on the coast: Santa María in Deba, San Salvador in Getaria or San Vicente in Donostia. Go in and light your candle. It will light up their greatness.
Monuments et sculptures
Stone and iron
The list of villages in Gipuzkoa turned into a huge open-air museum is very long. History and the avant-garde follow each other or overlap on sculptural routes that allow us to enjoy the different form of creative expression of Basque artists over the centuries.
Tolosa or San Sebastián for example, provide in their streets and vantage points a fascinating sculptural overview of the generation of Basque artists (Oteiza, Chillida, Mendiburu, Basterretxea, Ugarte…) that revitalized contemporary sculptural art, and this is constantly being updated with works by Dora Salazar or Cristina Iglesias.
But you won’t just be able to find the avant-garde as you walk around. Historical quarters like the ones in Oñati, Segura, Hernani, or Hondarribia will offer you palaces, forts, medieval necropolises or renaissance universities at every turn.
And you have all this close at hand. You are in a province where history and art merge in a condensed exuberant series of emotions.