San Sebastian boasts a large number of attractive, accessible, green urban spaces. There are three nineteenth-century city parks with magnificent mansions in their grounds, each of which can be enjoyed by tourists and locals and constitutes a valuable attraction in terms of botanical, landscaping and cultural interest. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Aiete, Cristina-Enea and Miramar Palace parks this spring.
The three beautiful city-centre gardens were landscaped in the Romantic style and are full of groves, lawns, winding paths, ponds and grottos which were designed to recreate an idealized version of nature. Originally privately-owned, nowadays these parks are public property.
In San Sebastian’s Egia district, the Cristina Enea Park houses a simple, quaint villa that once belonged to the Duke of Mandas. He bequeathed it to the city on condition that the entire estate was preserved intact. The gardens were designed by the French landscape architect, Georges Aumont, who was working in the Les Buttes-Chaumont Park in Paris at the time.
Located in the city’s Aiete neighbourhood is its namesake park ‘Parque de Aiete’, the former residence of the Duke and Duchess of Bailén. The palace in the park grounds was built in the style of French neo-classical architecture and is surrounded by beautifully landscaped trees and gardens by landscape architect Pierre Ducasse, who also designed the gardens in Plaza de Gipuzkoa. One of the park’s most striking features is the pretty pond with its meandering stream that flows down to an artificial rock grotto, the work of master “rocailleur” Eugène Combaz. The close relationship between the Duke and Duchess and the Spanish royal family led Queen Maria Cristina to summer there from 1887 – the year she visited for the first time – until the construction of Miramar Palace was completed.
Perched on the Pico del Loro promontory that separates the beaches of Ondarreta and La Concha is Miramar Palace, the best known of the three. Designed by London architect Selden Wornum, the English cottage-style construction was inaugurated in 1893. It was commissioned by Queen Maria Cristina who summered there until her death in 1929. Designed by Ducasse, the gardens, which feature lawns, flowerbeds and gravel pathways, roll down to the sea. Palacio de Miramar has been the property of the city of San Sebastian since 1972.
If you’re visiting San Sebastian this spring, we recommend exploring these wonderful gardens and palaces. They’re perfect for disconnecting and daydreaming.