22/05/2002 The high expectations surrounding the Third Programme of Guided Tours around the Restoration Works in Vitoria-Gasteiz´s Santa María Cathedral have proved more than justified just one month after its inauguration. The attractions offered by this series of guided tours have awakened the interest of both Spanish and foreign visitors alike, who have flocked in their thousands to view the cathedral. After just one month, the building can count on almost 10,000 visitors, 40% of the total number estimated for the entire year.
Since the start of the new tours on 20th April of this year, 5,091 people have visited the gothic cathedral and another 4,710 have reserved a tour for the coming months, an influx of visitors that far exceeds the estimated average of 150 people per day. This limit was initially imposed in order to prevent interference to the excavation works due to overcrowding, although admittance criteria are fairly flexible and every effort is made to provide all those who wish to see the cathedral with the opportunity of doing so. The highest influx of visitors naturally occurs at the weekends, during which times the established average is exceed by a significant margin, necessitating, on occasions, the formation of additional groups.
The novelties featured in this year´s series of tours, in particular the bird´s eye view of the archaeological excavations provided by the new walkway in the central nave, have awakened so much interest that many people have decided to reserve their visit in advance. A total of 4,710 reservations have been made for between now and December, many of them through the cathedral´s website www.catedralvitoria.com. Those who have not yet made their reservation are still in time to do so for the coming weeks. Furthermore, due to the progressive nature of the tour, which evolves hand in hand with the excavation work being carried out in the central nave between now and April, those who have already enjoyed the tour once may wish to visit the cathedral again later on in the year, to see how the work is progressing.
The Visitors´ Centre has also received a large number of visits during this first month. The old bowling alley in Las Brullerías Street now contains a temporary exhibition with audio-visual rooms which take visitors on a virtual tour of the cathedral building. Indeed, a few dozen people have actually visited the centre with the sole objective of experiencing this virtual cathedral tour.
Of the 5,091 people who have visited the gothic cathedral over the last month, 3,495 (68.6%) were residents of the Basque Country, 1,216 (23.9%) came from other parts of Spain and 380 (7.5%) were foreign tourists. The number of Spanish tourists was especially high, especially considering the fact that April is not one of the peak months for domestic tourism. In addition to the large number of tourists from Madrid and Catalonia (traditional sources of tourism to the Basque Country), April also saw a significant number of visitors from neighbouring regions, including Cantabria, La Rioja, Navarre and Castilla-León.
The 380 foreign tourists came from 25 different countries, mainly the
United States, France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany, although Argentina,
Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Venezuela and Korea, among others, were also well
represented. Of the total number of visitors, 4,031 selected the Spanish
language option and 710 listened to the guide in Basque. The remaining
350 enjoyed the tour in English, French and German.