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The inland road
Way of St. James in the Basque Country: From Andoain to Tolosa
Tolosa is especially famous for its deeply rooted Carnival, during which the streets become alive with hordes of enthusiastic participants in disguise, on decorated floats, or as part of a carnival group.
Until 1614, the date on which Philip III granted it the title of town, Andoain swung back and forth between Donostia-San Sebastian and Tolosa. Its conversion meant that it could unite the two parts making up its population: Leizaur, next to the Rivers Leizaran and Oria, and Andoain, on the side of Mount Buruntza.
The parish church, located in the Village Square, is dedicated to San Martín de Tours, a loyal companion of the pilgrims to Compostela. This 18th century Baroque church is built in veined marble and is not far from the Town Hall, built in the same period, or Urigain Palace, presently the cultural centre and an example of early century French-Basque architecture.
Travelling along this important road, pilgrims would come across places such as Bilabona-Villabona, which could have its origins in Amasa, presently a neighborhood of the former. In fact, the parish church of San Martin de Tours, started in the 16th century, stands in Amasa, as does the hermitage of la Santa Cruz, possibly the first local church and home to a greatly worshipped calvary. Whatever the case, pilgrims were so common in Billabona that the expenses of running the local hospital were even paid for by the district.
Travellers would have covered about half of their journey through Gipuzkoa on reaching Tolosa, where they would find everything they needed to prepare themselves for setting out on the last part of the Road through this territory. Tolosa was created and fortified in the 13th century on order by Alfonso X the Wise, who was afraid that the aspirations of Teobaldo, from Navarre, would bring about the downfall of the prosperous commercial route through Gipuzkoa.
But Tolosa was already a highly important spot in the province well before it attracted the monarch’s attention, and it was precisely in its church of Santiago that the lawyers of Gipuzkoa deliberated on their annexation to Castile and where the first written ordinances in Gipuzkoa were issued.
Tolosa, which was the capital of Gipuzkoa from 1844 to 1854, still has a medieval quarter of narrow streets and extremely ancient buildings, such as the 12th century Idiaquez Palace. This Palace, built over a fragment of the surrounding walls, provided shelter in 1538 to the Emperor Charles V, and belonged to the latter’s secretary, Alonso de Idiaquez.
Even the most humble of pilgrims were given shelter in the hospital built over a primitive Templar commandery which, it would seem, used to stand next to a hermitage dedicated to Saint James, home to an ancient carving of the Apostle. This Ospital-Zaharra (Old Hospital), which stood next to the parish church of Santa Maria, was rebuilt by the Town Council in 1775 and yet again, after a fire, in 1819.
The above-mentioned parish church was built in the 16th century, although it has additions from every period, such as the Romanesque door of the hermitage of San Esteban, still standing until the beginning of this century. Other interesting buildings are the 17th century Convent of Santa Clara, its 18th century church, and Baroque palaces such as that of Atodo, among others.
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