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16. Triangulo

Do you know that Tolosa was once the capital of Gipuzkoa? The period was during the progressive governments from 1844 to 1854. That’s when the decision was taken to construct this Neoclassical building: the Council Building, standing on the site of Barrenatxoenea or Portaletxe house, former site of the town walls.

The building was initially intended to serve as the Provincial Council Building, but it was never used as such, since the work was completed in 1856, by which time San Sebastian had regained its position as the capital. Left without its original function, the Order of the Poor Clerics took up residence in the building, where they stayed until 1982. Since then, it has been the Antonio María Labaien Cultural Centre, named after the first author of Basque theatre and mayor of Tolosa during the second Republic.

The building stands out for its yellow shade, although there’s more to the subject than meets the eye: the town council initially refused permission to paint it, until a study revealed that in the past most buildings had indeed been yellow. Finally permission was granted, hence the building is said to have become the first of the many coloured buildings now found in the Old Quarter.

Referring again to the festivities for St John’s Day. This is the setting for the traditional dance performed by the entire municipal retinue. The mayor (male or female) opens the ceremonial aurresku dance, followed by councillors from all of the political parties.

Lastly, take a look at the sculpture standing in the centre of the Plaza Triángulo. Atahuts is a steel work made by the sculptor Jorge Oteiza in 1994. In Basque, the name means door and empty, and in the artist’s words “it is a door inviting you into the town and the country, and to get to know them”. It’s definitely worth coming through that door to get to know us, isn’t it?

Behind you you’ll see a long promenade: Paseo San Francisco. Your tour will continue at the church found at the beginning of it.