Press Releases


Children’s workshops for the year 2006-2007

08/10/2006 The programme is aimed at putting students between the ages of 6 and 18 in touch with history, art, architecture…

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 18 October 2006. Throughout the 2006-2007 school year, the Santa Maria Cathedral will offer guided tours, training workshops and educational activities especially for schools. Thanks to the “Play, work and learn at the Cathedral" project, headed by the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation, more than 15,000 students between 6 and 18 years of age will be able to learn and enjoy interesting subjects such as history, archaeology, architecture and art.

With these initiatives, the old Vitorian church fulfils the role that cathedrals have played for centuries as key places of knowledge and cultural dissemination. The studies and research taking place as part of the restoration have made the Santa Maria Cathedral an open book for everyone.

The Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation has been organising specific activities for students since the restoration began. Nevertheless, their success, demonstrated by an impressive 10,000 participants in 2006, has inspired the creation of an ongoing programme called “Play, work and learn at the Cathedral”, which will continue throughout the entire 2006-2007 school year.

Characterised by its highly practical features, the programme is comprised of guided tours, workshops and educational activities, which are organised according to age: from 6 to 11 and from 11 to 18. All activities are free of charge. Schools interested in participating should call 945 255 135.

This initiative is primarily aimed at schools in the Basque Country which will receive information from the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation by letter and e-mail. Nonetheless, the programme “Play, work and learn at the Cathedral” is also open to schools all over Spain and abroad.


The part of the programme aimed at students aged 11-18 basically consists of a visit to the Santa Maria Cathedral restoration site, where students can take a close-up look at concepts they have learned in the classroom at their respective schools.

This visit is important in a historical, artistic, cultural and social sense, as it emphasises practical learning by offering schools and educational centres the possibility for students to explore their creativity afterwards through artistic or intellectual activities based on what they saw and learned during the visit.

An important new development for this school year is the visit to the ancient 11th century medieval wall. The first stretch of the wall was restored by the Vitoria-Gasteiz Town Council through the Agency for Urban Restoration. This project was based on studies carried out by the UPV Archaeology of Architecture Research Group.

During the beautifully scenic and historical tour, which lasts approximately one hour, participants discover traces of Medieval Gasteiz, the City of Guilds, Renaissance Vitoria, urban progress, the preparations carried out by the community against the sieges of the Carlist Wars, the role of the Church in the city, etc.

This new tour will enable the thousands of students between the ages 11 to 18 who have already visited the restoration of the Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral) to discover a different historical aspect of the city. This diversity is essential for a more complete picture of Vitoria-Gasteiz and provides the setting for the role the church has played in the city´s development. At the same time, students will be able to see first-hand the architectural progress that has been made since their last visit.

The tours are offered as part of the agreement with the Municipal Department of Education, but the programme is open and free to all schools that are interested, regardless of their location. Schools can register by calling 945 255 135.

Tours are available in Basque and Spanish, Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 11:00am. If necessary, visits can be given in English, French or any other language in which tours are generally offered. Tours last 1½ hours.


For the younger students, aged 6 to 11, the Santa Maria Cathedral Foundation has designed a selection of educational workshops. Through the various documents provided by the Vitorian church, students can discover the history of Vitoria-Gasteiz as well as its artistic, cultural and social facets.

The programme includes five hands-on workshops lasting 1½ to 2 hours. Each workshop features a different theme:

-Designing plastic stained-glass windows
-Recreating ancient Gasteiz using clay models
-Recreating an archaeological excavation
-Creating paper figures of the important historical people and buildings of Vitoria-Gasteiz
-Creating models of the portico reliefs and sculptures

Schools can select the workshops, in Basque or in Spanish, which best complement their studies programme. Led by an instructor and supervised by at least one teacher, the workshops are designed for groups of 20 students or less.

The workshops are comprised of two parts. The first part includes a 30-minute tour of the Santa Maria Cathedral. Throughout the visit, students will learn about the specific topic upon which the workshop is based. The second part is where the students will be able to put their new-found knowledge to work through the craft activities.

Student workshops will take place Monday through Friday during the school year between 9:00am and 11:00am in the morning. Other times may be possible depending on the availability of the guides. All reservations can be made by calling 945 255 135. The workshops are free of charge.

The available workshops are:


This workshop provides a simple, educational view of the Santa Maria Cathedral´s Gothic architecture, allowing participants to then create their own stained-glass window.

During the visit prior to the workshop, special attention will be given to special features that are characteristic of Gothic architecture – height, walls, pointed arches, vaults, light, etc. The deformations and problems of Santa Maria will also be discussed. An analysis of the functions, materials and iconography of the stained-glass windows will conclude the visit.

Each student will be given a simple description of a scene or person typically found in the stained-glass windows of cathedrals and churches. Preferably, this description will be of a religious person and will describe their physical appearance as well as their martyrdom or life to provide a deeper understanding as to why the figure is represented in a certain way.

Students will also be given a piece of brown cardboard paper upon which the outline of a Gothic window has been drawn. This will be used as the architectural frame. Once the frame has been cut out, the student will use tape to attach a clear plastic sheet on the back.

Using the description as a guide, each student will draw their figure on the plastic sheet using a black permanent marker. After drawing the figure, the student marks the outline of the hypothetical stained-glass. The idea is that the drawing could be used as a template for a real stained-glass window. Afterward, the students will use permanent markers to colour the drawing to make it as beautiful as possible.

Materials needed: coloured medium-tip permanent markers, black medium-tip permanent markers, A4 plastic sheets, A3 brown cardboard paper, scissors and tape.


This workshop´s guided tour aims to shed some light on the past of Vitoria-Gasteiz and of the Santa Maria Cathedral itself by taking students on a journey that explores the evolution of Gasteiz up to when it became Nova Victoria, the churches preceding Santa Maria and the beginning of the construction of the Catedral Vieja in the 13th Century. This tour will be similar to the guided tours, but the emphasis will be on the new models on display at the beginning.

During the workshop, each student will make a model of one of the features explained during the tour: the 8th century cabins, previous churches, the ancient 11th century wall, the different phases of Santa Maria, etc.

The goal of the workshop is to bring the past of the city and the building into the present day. In this way, students will be able to visualise the different stages of progress and make models of the different aspects covered during the tour.

Materials needed: papier mache, coloured clay and clay-modelling tools.


This workshop offers a simple, educational view of the archaeological projects taking place in the Santa Maria Cathedral. In the tour prior to the workshop, the different functions of archaeological excavations will be examined: a means through which to study Santa Maria, a tool for the restoration and a basic foundation from which to rediscover the history of both the building and the city.

Other topics discussed will include the archaeologists´ work methods, how an excavation is carried out (how and why we excavate), and the reconstruction and restoration of objects found.

The idea is to allow participants to take part in a mini-excavation. In order to do this, children will get into pairs. Each pair will have an excavation “box” containing different pieces of objects that are buried in sand. Students will then have to excavate using various brushes. After all of the fragments have been found, the “archaeologists” must rebuild the objects as if it were a puzzle. Joining the fragments together using clay as a "reversible glue”, the objects will be reconstructed. Afterward, the students will draw a picture of their object in order to “catalogue” it.

Materials needed: boxes/containers, sand, coloured plates and cups, brushes, pails, sheets of paper, pencils and coloured paints.


The guided tour of this workshop explores the past of Vitoria-Gasteiz and the Santa Maria Cathedral through an journey that explains the city´s evolution: from the small shanty town reflected in the archaeological excavations, the establishment of laws and the creation of Nova Victoria, the conquest of Alfonso the 8th and the building of the wall to safeguard the church, all the way to the final construction of Santa Maria and the second expansion.

The tour will follow the same itinerary as the guided tours, as well as examine the models on display in the Cuchillería 95 hall. During the tour, students will be able to view the remains of the ancient medieval wall and learn about its earliest function as well as its subsequent use in the construction of the Cathedral. The archaeological excavations will also be covered, which show Gasteiz before it was Gasteiz and the churches preceding Santa Maria.

During the workshop, each participant will create an historical figure (king, queen, soldier, priest, pilgrim, artisan, townsperson, etc) or an old building (house, tavern, inn, church, etc.). There is a stencil for each, which the students will paint with coloured paints and then cut out.

The cut-out creations will then be stapled in order to make them three-dimensional. When all are placed upon the table, they will represent ancient Nova Victoria. After the models are finished, groups will discuss the functions or characteristics of each of the people or buildings: the defensive use of the tower houses, the artisan guilds and how they were grouped together on streets that were often named after them, etc.

Materials needed: A4 paper for painting, pencils, scissors, glue stick, coloured paints, wrapping paper, different coloured crepe paper, tape, small and medium-size staplers and staples.


This workshop emphasises the importance of art in the past, not only as decoration but also as an education tool for a primarily illiterate population.

The workshop will explain the scenes and figures portrayed in each of the portico´s façades, giving life to the term "Bible in stone", since the Bible is the main subject reflected in the porticos.

A general explanation will also be given of how the stonemasons sculpted the stones, how the different parts of the figures were joined together to achieve the final result and how, in the beginning, porticos were polychromatic, even though most of them are no longer that way today.

There are two options within this workshop, depending on age:

The youngest participants, those who are still not comfortable reading, will make coloured clay models of the different scenes they have seen on the façades. Each child will create one or two figures (for example: an angel, dragon, Saint Michael, the Virgin, the Apostles, etc) in order to complete one or more scenes on the façades. The figures will be made by joining different-coloured parts until the figure is whole. In other words, the children will "sculpt" like ancient sculptors, creating the face, then the arms, etc. Once the "sculptors" are finished, the figures will be grouped together to reflect the different scenes.

Children who can read will be given a small text that simply explains one of the scenes on the façades of the portico. They will be divided into groups and must carefully read the text. Then, they will use the same method explained before to create the figures corresponding to each scene. Once they have finished, they will proceed in the same way as the younger children.

Materials needed: different coloured clay, yarn and clay-modelling tools.


Throughout the year, new workshops will be offered depending to demand. These workshops will not be exclusively devoted to arts and crafts. They will also include activities related to language, verbal and written communication, fiction, etc.

Although the children´s workshops are offered to school groups, families can also participate, as a possible weekend outing. All children between 6 and 11 can participate in the Saturday morning workshops.

Parents will only need to remain in the workshop if the child is 6 years old or younger, assuming that the child is able to participate without disturbing the group.

In the beginning, the workshops open to the general public will take place on the first and third Saturday of each month starting at 10:30am in the morning. Dates and times may be added according to demand.

Reservations can be made by calling 945 255 135 and, as is true for the schools, the workshops are free of charge.