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"Parte Vieja" Top 5 Page for this destination San Sebastián Things to Do Tip by mikey_e

San Sebastián Things to Do: 134 reviews and 248 photos

  Street in the Alde Zaharra
by mikey_e
  • Street in the Alde Zaharra - San Sebastián
      Street in the Alde Zaharra
    by mikey_e
  • Stairs leading away from Santa María - San Sebastián
      Stairs leading away from Santa María
    by mikey_e
  • Entrance to the Alde Zaharra from the port - San Sebastián
      Entrance to the Alde Zaharra from the port
    by mikey_e
  • Looking towards the Santa María - San Sebastián
      Looking towards the Santa María
    by mikey_e

The Alde Zaharra or Parte Vieja (Old Town) is the heart of the tourist scene in San Sebastian and, although it has few official installations or institutions to visit, compared to other cities, it has an irresistible charm that draws people into its narrow streets. This is not the oldest part of town – that role is played by the Antiguo barrio – but it certainly lays claim to the historic heart of the city. Donostia was only founded in the 11th century, so don’t expect to find Neolithic remains here, despite the ancient roots of the Basque people. This area was built around the port and was larger populated by fishermen, which explains the various easy access routes to the Bay. Donostia was official declared a town by the King of Navarre in 1180, and that explains why there are few Romanesque churches here, if any, rather than the greater presence of Gothic and Baroque buildings. It used to be that this area was heavily nationalist in an unfriendly sort of way – that is, the sort of elements that might give rise to kale borroka. In the ten years or so between my visits to San Sebastian, however, the Alde Zaharra has been converted to a very touristy area and the outward signs of militant nationalism you are likely to see are on keychains and t-shirts made in China and on sale for twenty times their actual value. Nevertheless, this is a great place to come at night, when the bars and restaurants really light up and the patrons spill out onto the street with their cider and plates of pintxoak.

Directions: To the east of the Town Hall and the Avenida de la Libertad

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jan 6, 2009
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