Napoleonic route of Vitoria-Gasteiz - Tourism in Vitoria-Gasteiz

Batalla de Vitoria

We would like to invite you to discover the scenes and characters of Napoleonic Vitoria. A small city with barely 7000 inhabitants led by an enlightened elite that drove the leap from an old market town to a neoclassic city. The Peninsular War interrupted this physical and cultural expansion and it became known throughout Europe for the transcendental battle that was fought in its surroundings.

Walking through the history

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Follow Napoleonás steps

City Hall and Plaza de España

When the French occupied the city, the construction of the neoclassic Plaza Nueva by the architect Olaguibel had just ended. To the north there is the Casa Consistorial (city hall) where Fernando VII stayed in April 1808 on his way to Bayonne. Every day, at six in the evening, the clock chimes the notes of the symphony "The Victory of Wellington" composed by Beethoven in 1813.

Los Arquillos

Also by Olaguibel, they are a splendid example of town planning in the Enlightenment. Using platforms and public spaces, they connect the medieval city raised on the hill with the new expansion on the flat land. In this same scenario, on 19 April 1808, the residents of Vitoria cut the reins of the carriage which lead to Fernando VII to Bayonne. There, Napoleon would name his brother José King of Spain.

Monument to the battle

Located at the centre of the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, it commemorates the Battle of Vitoria and represents the key people. The monument, made in stone and bronze, is by the Valencian sculptor Gabriel Borrás and was inaugurated in 1917 celebrating first centenary of the battle.

Palace of Montehermoso

Constructed in the XVI Century, it was property of the Marquis and Marchioness of Montehermoso. José I stayed there for the first time in July 1808 and fell in love with its owner, Pilar Acedo. He acquired it in October 1808, for two million reales. The palace housed the Josephine Court at various moments of the occupation. Napoleon would be interviewed in this palace with his brother in November 1808.

Escoriaza Esquível Palace

Constructed in the XVI Century, is it one of the best examples of Basque Renaissance civil architecture. It hosted the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País, which brought the ideas of the Enlightenment to the Basque Country. Its role was key in society at the time. During the French occupation, the palace was used as for various purposes including as a military hospital, a prison, stables and barracks for the gendarmerie.

Echanove House

Constructed in 1805 by the engineer Manuel de Echanove, this somber building housed the first common administration of the three Basque Provinces and created by the French in 1810 named the Prefecture of Cape Machichaco. This large house also hosted Marchal Jourdan on the eve of the Battle of Vitoria as he complained of a terrible fever.

Palace of Marquis of Alameda

A Baroque Palace built in 1735 by the first marquis. One of his ancestors, Ramón Mª de Urbina, was an illustrator and was the Regional Councillor of Alava and Mayor of the City on several occasions. He was behind the Plaza Nueva and Los Arquillos (The Arcades), taking the city from the Medieval to the Enlightenment. Illustrious personalities such as Humboldt and Jovellanos also stayed at this house.

Álava- Esquivel Palace

This XV Century Palace was where Miguel Ricardo de Álava y Esquível, General Álava, was born and lived, a historical character key to the understanding of this period in history. Its eastern facade (c/ Zapatería) maintains its original condition; nevertheless, the western facade (c/ Herrería) was profoundly reformed in the middle of the XIX Century. On this facade we can see a clock taken from an English ship in 1782.

Provincial Council of Álava

This neoclassic palace was built after the Peninsular War, between 1833 and 1858. Previously, the General Councils of Álava met in the convent of San Francisco, which was a hospital during the occupation and no longer exists. On the right side of its main facade we can see the statue of General Álava, who was named Provincial Councillor of Alava in November 1812.

Armoury Museum

With an interesting collection of historical arms, it contains essential information on the Battle of Vitoria: models, weapons, uniforms, maps, etc. It houses curious items such as the holsters of José I and Wellington's tea set. It has recently incorporated the sword that the city of Vitoria gave to General Álava in thanks for releasing the city from the pillage.

House of Napoleon

This farm house, known as Etxezarra, was where Napoleon stayed from 5 to 9 November 1808, when, after the defeat at Bailén, he was forced to rescue his brother José. It was here, with his military staff, where he would draw up the strategy to recover the lost power. One of its balconies has a portrait of Napoleon and its facade bears the inscription: "Hic Napoleón I Imperator habitavit anno MDCCCVIII".

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