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San Sebastian

SAN SEBASTIAN (Basque Iruchulo), a seaport and the capital of the Spanish province of Guipuzcoa, on the Bay of Biscay, and on the Northern railway from Madrid to France. Pop. (1900) 37,812. In 1886 San Sebastian became the summer residence of the court. The influx of visitors, attracted by the presence of the royal family, by the prolonged local festivities, the bull-fights and the bathing, increases the number of the inhabitants in summer to about 50,000. The city occupies a narrow sandy peninsula, which terminates on the northern or seaward side in a lofty mass of sandstone, Monte Urgull; it is flanked on the east by tHe estuary of the river Urumea, on the west by the broad bay of La Concha. The old town, rebuilt after the fire of 1813, lies partly at the foot of Monte Urgull, partly on its lower slopes. Until 1863 it was enclosed by walls and ramparts, and a strong fort, the Castillo de la Mola, still crowns the heights of Urgull. There are also batteries and redoubts facing landward and seaward below this fort; but the other defences have been either razed or dismantled. The Alameda, one of many fine avenues, was laid out on the site of the chief landward wall, and separates the old town from the new in which the houses are uniformly modern, and built in straight streets or regular series of squares. The bay of La. Concha has a broad sandy shore, the Playa de Banos, admirable for bathing and sheltered from sea-winds by the rocky islet of Santa Clara. Its centre is faced by the casino, a handsome building, and the summer palace and park of Miramar occupy the rising ground towards its western extremity. The other noteworthy buildings are the bull-ring, capable of seating 10,000 spectators, the theatre, fine provincial and municipal halls, barracks, a hospital, a Jesuit college, the American International School for girls, and many other schools. There are numerous breweries, saw and flour mills, and manufactures of preserves, soap, candles, glass and paper, especially in the busy suburb that has sprung up on the right bank of the Urumea. The fisheries are important. The harbour consists of three artificial basins, opening into La Concha Bay, and situated in the midst of the old town; it is chiefly frequented by coasting and fishing vessels, and cannot accommodate large ships. From its position near the frontier San Sebastian was long a first-class fortress, and has sustained many sieges. The last and most memorable was in August 1813, when the allied British, Portuguese and Spanish armies under Lord Wellington captured the city from the French, and then sacked and burned it.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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