Tolosa, in País Vasco (the Basque Country), is a brilliant destination for food lovers that is surrounded by the beauty of Green Spain and full of remarkable architecture.
Located on the river Oria, Tolosa was formerly the capital of Gipuzkoa and an important passage for traders leaving Navarre for the Bay of Biscay. The town's rich heritage can be seen in the beautiful architecture of its buildings such as the church and convent of Santa Clara, the Baroque Town Council building, the palaces of Idiakez, Atodo, and Aramburu, the Provincial Archive and the Plaza Euskal Herria. Tolosa's church of Santa María is a wonderful example of Basque Gothic architecture and has a Baroque facade, which can be found in the narrow streets of the Old Quarter. You'll also find several contemporary sculptures scattered across the town.
However, Tolosa is probably most famous for its food including the Tolosa bean and tasty confectionary. The Tolosa bean is a dark purple, almost black, bean with a buttery taste and thin skin which is celebrated in the November Bean Week in the town. Soaked and then cooked for hours with some olive oil, the beans have very little interference from other ingredients and flavours in the cooking process. The cooked beans, served with a blood sausage such as morcilla or chorizo, local Ibarra chilli peppers and cabbage, is a traditional dish in the town. Ox is also a local delicacy.
For those with a sweet tooth, the town is also famous for its confectionary with tejas (tiles) and cigarellos (cigarettes) made from butter and almonds, or xaxus cakes made from egg yolk and marzipan - all typical local sweets. A patisserie museum, showcasing the cooking utensils used by the Gorrotxategi family from 1680 onwards to make their delicious sweets will interest gastronomy buffs and food lovers alike whilst you'll find plenty to sample at the Tinglado market, which is awash with brilliant local produce including meats, cheeses and sweets.
Tolosa is also home to many festivals including the well-known Tolosa Carnival celebrated 40 days before Easter for 6 days, an equivalent to Mardi Gras. There is also the festival of San Juan, where the traditional 'bordon dantza' is performed and bonfires are lit. Other events include the Zumardi nature conferences, an international choir mass contest and a festival of puppets and marionettes.
Situated in the gorgeous countryside of Tolosadea, why not head out and explore the area by hiking up Monte Uzturre from the top of which you are afforded a spectacular panorama of this beautiful lush area. The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Izaskun, located in nearby Ibarra, is also well worth a visit.
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