The Gothic styled Cathedral of Santa Maria is located on the highest part of the hill on which the original city of Vitoria-Gasteiz was settled. Known also as “The Old Cathedral”, it was declared World Heritage sited by the World Committee of UNESCO in 2015. The Cathedral is famous for being stage of Ken Follett’s literary work.
The Church of Santa Maria, one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in Europe, is a story of never-ending change. From the gothic style changes incorporated during the reign of Alfonso X (1252-1284), through the twentieth century, the cathedral has undergone modifications that have transformed it to the point of placing its preservation in danger. Especially harmful was the change from wooden vaults to stone vaults in the sixteenth century. Although there was an attempt to repair the problem in the mid twentieth century, the restoration was ultimately just as damaging to the building.
As a result of these deformations, an impressive restoration effort of the cathedral began in 1997, recognized with prestigious European awards. The construction has served to unearth significant aspects of the medieval history of Vitoria-Gasteiz, and has led to spectacular discoveries, such as a great doorway to the city and the remains of another two previous churches. In addition, the restoration work of the Cathedral has become a worldwide point of reference around which numerous, meetings, seminars, and conferences have been arranged with literary personalities of the stature of Paulo Coelho, Ken Follet, Arturo Pérez Reverte, and José Saramago.