Press Releases


The Cathedral of Santa María is expanding its range of guided tours on offer with a spectacular tour of the tower

Starting on the 4th August, the tour will be free throughout August and September

Vitoria-Gasteiz, 28th July 2008.- On 4th August, the Cathedral of Santa María will be expanding its successful programme of tours and visits ‘Open for renovation work’. Visitors will be able to go up the tower and enjoy impressive views of the city and La Llanada from the top, 30 metres above ground. The visit will be free during August and September.

The restoration of the tower, begun at the start of the year, is making good progress, which has enabled this space to be included in the programme of guided tours. From the 4th August onwards, the service lift currently used to take materials up and down the tower, will be used by visitors to travel up to the top of the tower and see the progress made in the restoration work whilst also enjoying the scenery.

Visitors will be taken up to the tower in the service lift, so for the moment this tour is only available on weekends and public holidays. The service lift has been prepared and has all the necessary prevention measures in place to guarantee the safety of the visitors, who will be accompanied at all times by guides and Foundation staff. There will be a maximum of 10 people per group. There will be tours every hour, which will last approximately 40 minutes.

From October onwards, the price of this tour will be the same as the guided tour inside the Cathedral, €5.

Progress Report

The tower of the Cathedral of Santa María is being restored from top to bottom. It has four key elements: the entrance arch (already restored), the square body, the octagonal body, which includes the bells and clock, and the spire.

Work is currently being carried out on the spire and the octagonal body. With a timeframe for completion of 12 months and a budget of close to €1.2 million, the aim is to strengthen the upper section so that all the scaffolding can be removed. The spectacular nature of the tower is also conveys the philosophy of the project in terms of overcoming architectural barriers, incorporating exhibition spaces, tourist, cultural, and historic uses, and, in general, the incorporation of civil uses into a religious space.

The restoration of the octagonal body and spire aims to maintain as many of the working elements as possible, repairing faulty elements and replacing those that cannot be repaired. Hence, the lightening rod and the top of the spire have been renovated, and the slate roof is being replaced entirely. The entire spire structured has been reinforced, having been seriously damaged by the pressure of the wind, the vibrations of the bells and the fire suffered by the tower in the 18th Century.

Furthermore, all the bells, except for the one in the spire, were brought down just over a month ago to be subjected to an exhaustive study before being repaired. Furthermore, some of the apertures that had been bricked over have been opened up with the idea of adding a carillon bell in the future. As for the clock, the machinery has been brought down to be repaired and the methacrylate clock face fitted in the 60s will be replaced by stained glass windows created using traditional techniques, which the clock probably had originally.

Watchtower for the city

The aim is to turn the tower into a watchtower for the city, the climax of tours around the restoration of the Cathedral. Hence, in the long term, the plan is to install a lift in the shaft occupied by the clock weights, taking visitors up to the bell platform and even up to the clock, situated at a higher level.

Restoration work on the octagonal body and spire should be complete by the start of 2009.