In his book on travel, “Los Pirineos” (“The Pyrenees”), Victor Hugo described Hondarribia as the “silhouette of a town of gold, with a sharp bell tower, in the depth of a blue gulf, in an immense area”.
Some years previously, during the first Carlist War, Stendhal visited Hondarribia as explained in his “memories of a tourist”. Many travellers and writers have referred to Hondarribia in their diaries and guide books. There have been different views from the romantics who saw Arab references on its walls and palaces to the authors who write about local customs or the realists like Pio Baroja who saw a simple town of fishermen and a decadent walled town.
The truth is that it left nobody indifferent. Hondarribia is located at the estuary of the River Bidasoa on the Basque coast. It is very easily accessible. It has an airport and the international Irun station is a few kilometres away. It also has a good road network that connects it to the rest of Europe.
Its Atlantic climate is characterized by mild winters and summers, which, along with the beach and the magnificent hotel and sports infrastructures, makes it very attractive for tourism. At the end of the nineteenth century, an important summer camp was established in our town, which determined the architecture and town planning.
Suburbs were created where villas and estates were built in an orderly fashion which redefined Hondarribia’s appearance. It has more than 16,000 inhabitants who live in several neighbourhoods with different identities: the old quarter, the sea district and the side of the Jaizkibel Mountain where the farmhouses are scattered. In the summer, the population is over 40,000, making it dynamic. The numerous cultural and sports activities, along with its famous fiestas, are an added attraction for visitors.
Its economy is based on services. Fishing, which is still an important part in the day-to-day work of the people of Hondarribia, along with family agriculture, make the gastronomy a rich and varied sample of our cooking. Hondarribia has an important cultural and artistic heritage, rich in history, which attracts numerous visitors, for it is one of the few fortified towns in the Basque Country. Its walls, most of which are still standing and are constantly being restored, give it a special appearance by evoking an epic past and by impregnating every corner, alley and square with aromas, flavours and sounds that take us back to other times.