Press Releases


Free visits extended until March 31st

30/01/07 15,000 visits have been booked for January and February and forecasts predict a total of 25,000 for the first quarter of the year.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 30 January 2007. The number of guided visits to the Santa María Cathedral continues to rise at a rapid pace. Just after the start of the new year, the figures recorded for the month of January and the number of visits booked for the next few months suggest that the total number of people visiting the Cathedral of Vitoria this year will easily surpass that of last year, when the temple attracted a total of 98,790 visitors.

More than 15,000 people are expected to visit the Santa María Cathedral during the months of January and February. This figure is significantly higher than the record numbers of visitors recorded in previous years. The strong increase reflects the success of the initiative, launched at the beginning of this year, to invite citizens to a free visit to the Old Cathedral as a token of gratitude for having contributed to achieving 500,000 visitors.

The actual figures have exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts, which is why the Santa María Cathedral Foundation has decided to extend the period of free visits for one more month, until 31 March. One week after launching this initiative, the maximum number of free visits for the months of January and February had already been reached.

The number of telephone bookings has not dropped over the past few days. This is why the Foundation has decided to extend the period of free visits, which was initially set to end on 28 February, until the end of March. If demand is sustained, the Santa María Cathedral will close its first quarter of the year with approximately 25,000 visitors.

Besides increasing the number of visitors, the programme of free visits has achieved another key objective: many of those who have already visited the Cathedral or have booked a free visit, had not had the opportunity to visit the Cathedral´s restoration works until now. Five out of every ten visits are booked by people from Vitoria or Álava, who will be visiting the Santa María Cathedral for the first time.

The Santa María Cathedral Foundation has sent out more than 87,000 letters with invitation to visit the Cathedral. Those interested are required to book their visit in advance, indicating the number of visitors, fill out the invitation as a reminder and present it at the Visitors Centre on the chosen day. Visits must be booked by phone at: 945 255 135.

New features at FITUR 2007
The Santa María Cathedral Foundation is extending this initiative to all professionals and people in general who visit the Basque Country stand between tomorrow (Wednesday) and next Sunday at the 27th edition of the FITUR 2007 International Tourism Trade Fair of Madrid. FITUR, one of the most important tourism fairs in the world, has largely contributed to the dissemination of the Cathedral´s restoration works, which is why the Foundation has wanted to express its gratitude to the participants in the fair.

Participants in FITUR will be able to discover many other new features. The Santa María Cathedral Foundation is presenting the most recent attractions included in its guided visits: new archaeological excavations inside the temple, restoration works throughout the entire building, a funeral museum with remains of ancient burials, the new scaffolding that goes all the way up to the ceiling of the porch, scale models of the old town of Gasteiz, exhibitions, audiovisual presentations…

Another new feature is the new image created for the promotion of the guided visits. The image represents a little girl and her father, both in black and white, who become gradually impregnated with the polychrome of the Virgin on the Cathedral´s porch. It is a metaphor of how the Santa María Cathedral allows visitors not only to contemplate but also to participate, from a very short distance, in the unique experience of restoring an important part of cultural heritage.

The Santa María Cathedral Foundation is using its presence at FITUR to present a new issue of “Noticias desde el Triforio”, a 36-page colour magazine with a 100,000 copy print run, published on the occasion of having completed half the restoration project. The magazine includes pictures of the many different aspects of the restoration works that are open to the public: architecture, archaeology, art, culture, tourism… New folders and posters complete the list of materials displayed at the fair.

It is the seventh consecutive year that the Santa María Cathedral participates in FITUR, where it has become an important element of reference of the Basque Country stand. The public restoration works have gained the recognition of tour operators, professionals, private visitors and anyone else participating in the fair.

Experts in tourism have greatly valued the experience and the effects of opening up the recovery of this monument to the general public, but also the way in which the Santa María Cathedral is contributing to knowledge and training within a new concept of tourism oriented not only to leisure, but also to learning. It is therefore not surprising that professionals and participants in FITUR are attaching increasing importance to tourism related to socio-cultural sustainability.

The King and Queen of Spain, who have repeatedly shown interest in the restoration works and visited the site in June 2004, will officially inaugurate the 27th edition of FITUR, which features representatives from 170 different countries. More than 12,000 exhibitors, 150,000 tourism industry professionals and some 96,000 visitors are clear evidence of the continued and growing success of this event.