Vitoria, Spain

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Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital city of the province of Álava and of the autonomous community of the Basque Country in northern Spain with a population of 235,661 people. It is the second largest Basque city, after Bilbao. The dwellers of the city are called Vitorianos or Gasteiztarras, while traditionally they are dubbed Babazorros (Basque for 'bean eaters').



In the year 581 the Visigoth king Liuvigild founded the city of Victoriacum, trying to emulate the Roman foundations, as a celebration of the victory against the Vascones near what is assumed to be the hill occupied by the primitive village of Gasteiz. This however is not sufficiently proven, and some historians and experts believe that Victoriacum was located not on the site of present-day Vitoria-Gasteiz but nearby, probably at the foot of Mount Gorbea where there is a village called Vitoriano.

In the year 1181, Sancho VI the Wise, King of Navarre founded the town of Nueva Victoria as a defensive outpost on top of a hill at the site of the previous settlement of Gasteiz. In 1200, the town was captured by the troops of Alfonso VIII of Castile, who annexed the town to the Kingdom of Castile. The town was progressively enlarged and in 1431 it was granted the title of City by King Juan II of Castile. In 1463, it was one of the five founding villas of the Brotherhood of Álava alongside Sajazarra, Miranda de Ebro, Pancorbo and Salvatierra.

The Battle of Vitoria of the Peninsular War occurred near Vitoria-Gasteiz along the river Zadorra on 21 June 1813. An allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. The victory assured the eventual end of French control in Spain. There is a monument commemorating this battle in the main square of the city known as the Monument to Independence - Monumento a la Independencia.

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