San Sebastian, Exploring the Inland

We travel to the territory’s interior, to the highest landscapes and villages in Gipuzkoa, separated from San Sebastian by thirty kilometres, The Oria Valley has traditionally been the main communication axis between the North and the South; that is the reason why the N-I road is our particular guide in this journey. We do not need tc drive a lot to get to Tolosa, a highly noble town that, in the 19th century, was the capital town of Gipuzkoa during ten years. Before that time, it had already shown enough signs of its importance the Baroque palaces (Idiaquez, At4do…), the Gothic church of Santa Maria, or the precious arcaded structure of El Tinglado Market, on the banks of the Oria River. It would be an excellent idea to visit Tolosa on a Saturday morning, when we can enjoy the busy and colourful public market.

If you want to experience the same feeling in Ordizia, you should visit this town on a Wednesday: the market has been held for almost five centuries in the heart of the historic quarter, a Historic-Artistic Site. The palaces of Barrena and Zabala or the streets through which Fray Andres de Urdaneta, a 16th century seafarer, will say goodbye to us before leaving to Beasain. Now we are on the epicentre of the Goerri region, under the influence of magic Aralar Mountain Range and with the reference of the sharp summit of Mount Txindoki. The Igartza Site is the biggest monumental treasure in this place and the perfect key to travel to medieval Gipuzkoa, whether crossing the 12th century bridge, observing the mill working, or enjoying the stone and wood structure of the Igartza Palace.

We will get to Idiazabal, famous for the cheese -an Interpretation Centre explains the making process-, and we will drive to Segura through the GI-2637 road. The roots of this town are in the 13th century, the birth of one of the most graceful and beautiful villages in the territory. The small palaces (Lardizabal, Guevara, Ardixarra…) and the narrow streets are unique in Gipuzkoa, as well as the nearby Zerain Cultural Park. This town has been always related to iron ore mining and other activities closely linked to Anna Lur, Mother Earth. Going through Mutlloa, we get to Ormaiztegi, where we can visit the Zumalakarregi Museum. Located in the building in which the Carlist general Tomas Zumalacarregui was born, the museum reviews the life of this famous personality, as well as the 19th century Basque Country.


San Sebasitan, Festivals & Fiestas

 The Feria-Theatre Fair San Sebastian is an unavoidable event for the Performing Arts sector. July is the month of instrumental rhythm. Every year the Jazzaldia – International Jazz Festival, presents a brilliant and complete programme.

The good turnout at the Kursaal tickets offices around the time of the Quincena Musical (musical fortnight) demonstrate the love that the Donostiarran people feel for symphonic music. Concerts involving major musical artists and renowned orchestras bring together both old and young; the “no more tickets available” sign is inevitably displayed.

But the great cultural date which the city looks forward to with enormous anticipation every September is the International Film Festival. On those days the theatres overflow with spectators during morning, afternoon and night, and the city fills up with stars.

Another festival that is growing year by year is the Horror and Fantasy Film Festival that, with other activities, completes a year full of cultural events for all tastes. 

The festive calendar is inaugurated by the popular tamborrada, which takes place on January 20th, the Day of San Sebastian, the patron saint of the city. The fiesta starts on the previous night with dinners out in restaurants or gastronomi societies. At midnight the city’s flag is hoisted in the Constitucion Square to the rhythm of the San Sebastian march. In the morning an army of 5.000 children dressed as drummers take part in the children’s parade.

February marks the celebration of Carnival, the most important fiesta of the winter period. Carnival is announced by the riotous tinkers who, as the popular song goes, “come from Hungary”. The band of inudes and artzaias cavorting alongside (nannies and shepherds) recalls their entourage. And finally the Carnival fills the streets with colour, ushered in by the appearance of the God Momo.

The arrival of summer is marked by the festivities of June 23rd, the eve of the solstice, with the blessing of the Tree of St John in the Constitucion Square. This is followed by a performance of the traditional Basque dance aurresku and at midnight bonfires are lit throughout the city. Later on in the summer comes the principal fiesta of Donostia, the Semana Grande, which celebrates the festival of the Virgen de la Asuncion (Virgin of the Assumption) and takes place throughout the whole of the week of August 15th. A packed programme of street parties, performances and cultural and sporting events fill the day. But the most incomparable event takes place at night: The International Fireworks Competition.

In September, the feast comes with the Euskal Jaiak and their complete festive programme including sports and dances. It immerses the city into a big popular celebration. On the two first Sundays of the month, the celebration will be completed with La Concha Flag, the main rowing boats competition of the Cantabrian Coast.

Bringing the year to an end, the Santo Tomas fair, held on December 215t, is one of the most keenly anticipated of Donostia events. The fiesta commemorates the old market which used to be held in San Sebastian, when the farmers and ranchers of the province used to come down to the capital to pay their taxes and display the best of their produce.


Garabandal – Star on the Mountain

San Sebastian de Garabandal, situated in one of the most remote corners of Cantabria Spain, is a place of wonder.  Here we present the first ever GPS mapping of the significant sites in San Sebastian de Garabandal:

Parish Church:  N43.20142 W4.42403

Site of the Miracle of the Host:  N43.20069 W4.42257

Conchita Gonzalez’ childhood home:  N43.20047 W4.42251

Ancient Fountain:  N43.20038 W4.42245

Start of the Path to the Pines:  N43.20020 W4.42383

Site of 1st apparition of St. Michael the Archangel:  N43.20006 W4.42381

Site of 1st apparition of the Virgin Mary at Garabandal:  N43.19981 W4.42396

Rock of St. Michael the Archangel:  N43.19928 W4.42442

The Pines:  N43.19842 W4.42440

GARABANDAL

This is a small village in northern Spain, in the Santander province, its full name is San Sebastian of Garabandal. No more than 300 people live in Garabandal. The town is impressively quiet. There is no doctor in the town and no resident pastor at the parish church. The pastor from Cosio used to celebrate Mass there on Sunday.

In the evening of June 18, 1961, four girls were playing on the outskirts of the town – Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores (Mariloli) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez – not related despite having the same name. Maria Cruz was eleven, the others twelve, and all were from poor families.

Suddenly they heard a loud noise, like thunder, and saw before them the bright figure of the Archangel Michael. On the following days the Archangel appeared to them again in the same place. He announced that on July 2 they would see Our Lady. This was the beginning of the Garabandal events.

OUR LADY OF CARMEL

The news spread quickly through the region. July 2 was a Sunday and the town was crowded. At six in the evening the girls went to the place where the Angel had appeared, and to the surprise of the crowd they entered into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to them accompanied by two angels, one being St. Michael. The girls described the vision as follows:

“She is dressed in a white robe with a blue mantle and a crown of golden stars. Her hands are slender. There is a brown scapular on her right arm, except when she carried the Child Jesus in her arms. Her hair, deep nut-brown, is parted in the centre. Her face is long, with a fine nose. Her mouth is very pretty with lips a bit thin. She looks like a girl of eighteen. She is rather tall. There is no voice like hers. No woman is just like her, either in the voice or the face or anything else.” Our Lady Manifested herself as Our Lady of Carmel.

At times the wind rustled her long hair which reached down to her waist. The girls spoke with the Virgin with the utmost naturalness. “We were telling her, “they said, “about our tasks, how we were going to the meadows…” and “She smiled at the little things we told her.” Our Lady showed them how to treat her: “Like children who speak with their mother and tell her everything… Children who rejoice to see her when they have not seen her for a while.”

MORE APPARITIONS

After this first apparition there were many more. During 1961 and 1962 Our Lady appeared several times each week. The four girls did not always receive the apparition together. Sometimes only one, other times two or three of them saw the vision. Nor was it always at the same hour of the day. Our Lady appeared many times at night and even early in the morning, in an attitude of sacrifice and penance, at the same hours when Our Lord is most offended by the sins of men. Even so, the girls would arise the following morning, as early as usual, to work in the fields, carrying bundles of grass or wood, or tending the cattle and sheep, without showing signs of fatigue.