An Almond with a Thousand Years of History
Despite being almost a thousand years old, the Old Quarter of Vitoria (Casco Viejo in Spanish and alde zaharra in Basque) is still a popular hangout spot for the people of Vitoria. Known for its almond shape, the medieval layout has been preserved almost perfectly intact. Getting lost in its streets, which climb to the hill where the ancient settlement was founded, is like walking back through time; going out for pintxos (Basque tapas) in its bars is to immerse oneself in the local culture; studying the details hidden within is to notice the rhythm at which this traditional Basque neighborhood beats.
An aupa is how you greet a waiter in Basque, and with an agur (also Basque) we say goodbye. The Old Quarter is the one place you absolutely cannot miss when visiting Vitoria. The Plaza of the Burullería, at the foot of the Cathedral of Santa María and the Tower of Los Anda (in the left of the image), is just one of the sites that will transport you back in time. The Plaza of the Matxete is another spot with its own unique personality. Still on display is the machete that the city’s Attorney General used to publicly renew the oaths of the members of the Vitoria City Council under penalty of chopping off their heads if they ever violated their word of honor.
Many of the names of the streets in the Old Quarter reflect the artisan trades of those that inhabited them, such as La Herrería (blacksmiths), La Cuchillería (cutlers), La Zapatería (shoemakers), La Correría (leather craftsmen) and La Pintorería (painters). Speaking of the painters of the Old Quarter… one of the best ways to discover medieval Vitoria is by following La Ciudad Pintada (The Painted City) Mural Itinerary: it is a route of large paintings splashed on the walls of the Medieval Almond. These masterpieces were created by artists and residents of Vitoria that together have transformed this part of the city into an open-air museum.