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7. Santa Maria Parish Church

Do you know that Santa Maria, Tolosa’s main parish church, is the second biggest in Gipuzkoa? It has 1,630 m² packed with history. Let’s take a look at it.

Today’s church replaces another smaller one standing since the origins of the old walled town and which was also destroyed in the fire of 1503. It took more than 200 years to build. That explains the mixture of styles: from the Baroque of the main facade to Basque Renaissance, Late Gothic and Neoclassic.

Inside there are more treasures, such as the Romanesque doorway of the old San Esteban hermitage, the murals by Eugenio María de Azcue, and a romantic organ dating from 1885. Today you can visit the church vaults, which still have their original wooden structure, accessed by a spiral stairway of 110 steps leading up from the choir.

You can also visit the small museum behind the altarpiece, home of the Provincial Archives for more than 300 years. Today it houses several relics, such as the original piece of the Gipuzkoa coat of arms and the original figure of Our Lady of Izaskun.

Outside the church is an interesting sculpture of St John the Baptist, patron saint of Tolosa. It goes without saying that Santa Maria Square plays a major part during the festivities to celebrate St John’s Day.

The song you can hear is the St John zortziko in 5/8 signature, sung at high mass on June 24. Its words go: Farewell, marvellous day, you have brought joy to the whole town. The evening before, to the sound of the same song, the bonfire is set alight, which, tradition would have it, banishes evil spirits. And on St John’s Day, the bordondantzaris perform the dance time and again.

Meanwhile, the more than 16 companies of riflemen fire rounds as the procession passes carrying the figure of St John. Consider yourself invited to come along and discover this very special, colourful and festive day!

To your right, you’ll find a somewhat unusual park: Euskal Pizkundea.