Zestoa, in the valley of history
Standing on a hill beside the Urola river, alongside what was once the Royal Way, Zestoa was in the Middle Ages a town with the mission to facilitate communications and relations. Despite the local way of life being largely dedicated to agriculture and livestock breeding, and later industry, this is a town which has always maintained an enormously important services sector with its sights set on meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
Although people have lived in the area of Zestoa since the Palaeolithic Era, the name of Zestoa found its way into history with the royal charter granted by the King of Castile, John I. The town was founded and fortified in the Middle Ages, conditioned by the feuds between nobles. However, several factors meant that it progressed differently from other neighbouring towns. The thermal waters found in the mid-18th century brought the start of a new era. In addition to health tourism, lignite extraction from the Ertxina mines and the cement industry also had important influence on Zestoa's long history.
Music, cinema, literature, painting, dance… For a small town like this you'll find a wide-ranging variety of cultural expressions, whether at popular level or professionally through the people dedicated to them.
Pio Baroja (San Sebastian 1892-Madrid 1956)
Before becoming a writer, he studied medicine, landing his first post in Zestoa. There, in his barely two years as a doctor, he realised that it wasn't the life for him. Many of the landscapes in his books take their inspiration from Zestoa.
Manuel Olaizola "Uztapide" (Deba 1909-Oiartzun 1983)
Bertsolari - singer of improvised Basque verse
Born in the Uztapide farmhouse in the Endoia district, he was a servant, coalman, woodcutter, farmer… but above all a bertsolari or singer of Basque verse. He was one of the leading figures of oral Basque literature.
Axun Arrazola (Zestoa 1912-San Sebastian 1995)
The only woman to have a street named after her in Zestoa. A nun with the Company of Mary, expert in art history specialising in the Renaissance, founder of a school of tourism… she was a woman of myriad achievements.
Lower Palaeolithic PeriodRemains of the first human beings in ZestoaThe oldest remains of people in the village were found at the Irikaitz archaeological site.
Middle Palaeolithic PeriodNeanderthal remains found in the Amalda caveA number of Neanderthal remains are found in the Amalda cave
Upper Palaeolithic Period (14,000-13,000 years)The Ekain paintings are madeCreation of the paintings in the Ekain cave, declared Heritage of Humanity Site
Middle Ages, mid-14th centuryOrigin of the group of houses making up the Lili PalaceThe Lili family starts work on the first constructions of what was to become their palace.
1383The town of Zestoa is foundedThe name of Zestoa found its place in history with the royal charter granted by the King of Castile, John I. The town was founded and fortified in the Middle Ages, conditioned by the feuds between nobles
1549The Zestoa fireFire ripped through the town, destroying Zestoa as it had been until then. The new layout of today's town began with the reconstruction
1792Discovery of the Gesalaga watersDiscovery of the waters which were to condition the future of Zestoa. These peculiar waters were found to cure a number of diseases… The spa and tourism would be one of the main consequences.
1793/1795War of the Pyrenees and fall of the Lili Palace wallsThe War of the Pyrenees had particular incidence in Zestoa, above all due to the conflicts provoked by the soldiers. This period saw the fall (or destruction) of a large part of the Lili Palace walls.
During the 18th centuryDemolition of the wallsThe people of Zestoa felt the relief of having a constricting bodice removed when the decision was taken to demolish the town walls. Zestoa has continued to grow ever since.
1895Construction of the spaGovernment heads, politicians, aristocrats, rich traders… took Zestoa's famous healthy waters in this marvellous construction.