Green Belt of Vitoria-Gasteiz - Olarizu park
Olarizu was the name of an old hamlet, abandoned in the 14th century, whose land became the property of the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It is documented with the name of Hollarruizi in the 11th century and as Hollarruizu in the 13th. Later, in the 19th century, it is registered with the name of Olharizu. Until the beginning of the 19th century, the chapel of Santa María de Olarizu, the parish church of this hamlet, still stood near Puente Alto.
The Kutzemendi fort
On the southeast slopes of Olarizu Hill, one can see a number of artificial terraces built in order to allow houses to be built and to strengthen the defences of the fort called Kutzemendi or Olarizu. This settlement was one of the first described in Alava and it has been the subject of several studies, the first by José Miguel de Barandiaran in 1926. Recently, steps have been taken to declare the area of the Fort of Kutzemendi a Qualified Cultural Asset within the category of Historical Monuments.
The Casa de la Dehesa de Olarizu
The oldest civil building in the area is the Casa de la Dehesa, which dates back to 1727. In that year, the Town Hall of Vitoria decided to construct stables for the livestock bred to supply local butchers. The stables were built on the dehesa, or fields, of Olarizu, a place used traditionally for grazing the communal livestock of the area. This building replaced a small house, which had been destroyed by fire. This house provided shelter for the animals and contained just one room for the shepherds.
The quarryman, Domingo de Berrícano, and the carpenter Nicolás de Izarra, both residents of Vitoria-Gasteiz, were paid 31,256 and 20,936 reales, respectively, to construct the new building. The new house included stables, outbuildings for storing straw and grain and a dwelling for the shepherds.
When the building ceased to be used as stables, it was utilised as a store for several decades and then fell into ruin. In 1987, the Town Hall began to restore the building and, in 1995, the Casa de la Dehesa was converted into the headquarters of the Environmental Studies Centre of the Town Hall of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Traditional procession to Olarizu
Olarizu is of special significance in the popular mind as it associated with the festivities that take place on the Monday following the Vigin of September, the traditional procession to the top of Olarizu. This procession was first documented in the mid-19th century.
On the same day, before the procession takes place, headed by the acting Mayor, the municipal council makes its annual visit to the stones that mark the boundary of the municipality. This ceremony was registered for the first time in 1590, although in those days it was held on any date between the months of August and October. The procession was first held on the current date in 1847. Until 1966, the procession was on horseback, a practice that ceased to be viable due to the danger posed by motorised vehicles. At the end of the procession, the municipal cortége did a tour of the city also on horseback.
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