Basque Country - gastronomy, art and natural beauty
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Though sometimes in the news for negative reasons, Euskadi (to give it its Basque name) is in fact a land of outstanding natural beauty and charm.
The rugged coastline, mountainous relief and unspoilt countryside come together with its towns, picturesque villages and way of life to make for a unique region.
The Basques are noted for their proud independence, singular language, traditions and culture. Even their sports seem different, including jasotzea (stone-lifting) and segalaritza (grass-cutting), not to mention the more famous pelota (or jai lai). Bilbao is also home to the fabulous Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, which has already been called by many as the greatest building of our time. Add to this a cuisine that is generally recognised as being the finest in Spain and you have many compelling reasons to visit this truly unique region of Spain.
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Basque cuisine is widely recognised as being the finest, most sophisticated in Spain. Its traditional cooking is based on the finest fish and seafood - particularly hake, salt cod and spider crab. Interesting features are the unique men only gastronomic societies. Members get together in their spare time to cook up some fabulous dishes.
In many respects, they are act as the guardians of traditional Basque gastronomy. More recently, however, there has been a trend towards the so-called New Basque Cuisine. Without losing sight of the essential values of traditional Basque cooking, the new cuisine has been greatly influenced by French gastronomy. Whether new or old, cooking always revolves on using the best local ingredients and a creativity that makes for some truly succulent dishes.
Cities to visit
The Basque Country has beautiful cities and exciting nature. Give both a place in your travel planning and discover one of the most beautiful regions of Spain with all your senses.
Probably the most famous city is San Sebastián, the pearl of the ocean with its inviting wide avenues and beach promenades. The car-free old town and the charming fishing port with its excellent restaurants are home to San Sebastian's oldest churches: the Gothic San Vicente and the Baroque Santa María. The former convent of San Telmo, dating from the 16th century, now houses a museum of Basque culture.
Vitoria-Gasteiz, the quiet capital of the Basque Country, is one of the places with the highest quality of life in Spain. The city has a number of well-preserved buildings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, today mainly home to museums and cultural centres. The old 12th century cathedral houses masterpieces by Van Dick, Rubens, Caravaggio and Benvenuto Cellini. El Portalón, a former brick and wood hostel (15th century), is now a restaurant with a medieval atmosphere.