Tourism in Vitoria-Gasteiz - A bit of history


Few places have two names like Vitoria-Gasteiz. The name "Nueva Victoria" was given to the city by King Sancho VI of Navarre, who founded Vitoria in 1181. At that time it was a walled defensive outpost belonging to the kingdom of Navarre. The name "Gasteiz" comes from a hamlet that used to stand on the hill around which our city is built.

Historically, Victoria has always enjoyed a strategic position because it is situated on the shortest route between the tablelands of Castile and Northern Europe. Throughout its history, the city has always been known as an important trading centre. Historians record that there were three markets held every week in the 13th century and after 1399, there were two annual fairs attended by numerous visitors.

Another important historical feature of the city is its individual privileges, which declared all its inhabitants to be equal, without distinction between nobles and the masses.

Here are the few key dates for the city:

pdf Time line

  • 1181: Vitoria was founded by Sancho VI of Navarre.
  • 1199: Alfonso VIII laid siege to Vitoria in the absence of Sancho VII El Fuerte.
  • 1200: The city capitulated and gave up its role as a defensive outpost. It became part of the kingdom of Castile.
  • 1431: Juan II granted Vitoria city status.
  • 1483: The local bylaws that governed Vitoria for almost 300 years were passed. Queen Isabel of Castile swore to respect Vitoria's special privileges before the gates of the city.
  • 1492: Expulsion of the Jews from the city, handing control of their cemetery in Judizmendi to the town council.
  • 1522: Adriano de Utrecht was made Pope. He received the news in the Casa del Cordón in Vitoria.
  • 1722: Bartolomé Riego brought the first printing press to Vitoria.
  • 1765: The Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País, promoted by the Count of Peñaflorida, was created.
  • 1781: Under the direction of Justo Antonio de Olaguibel work began on the construction of the Plaza Nueva.
  • 1813: The armies of Napoleon were defeated at the Battle of Vitoria. Beethoven composed a piece for orchestra commemorating this event.
  • 1905: The Liga Foral was created for the defence of the province's special economic agreements.
  • 1980: Vitoria-Gasteiz was chosen to be capital of the Basque Country by the Basque Parliament.

Videos in new window) in new window)

If the information on the page does not match your information requirements, please apply via the Citizens' mailbox.