Top Historic Sights in Oñati, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of Oñati

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu is a Franciscan sanctuary located in Oñati. The shrine is a much appreciated place among Gipuzkoans, with the Virgin of Arantzazu being the sanctuary"s namesake and patron saint of the province along with Ignatius of Loyola. The place benefits from the highland silence and peaceful atmosphere of the Aizkorri mountain range along with a good road infrastructure, so the place is ...
Founded: 1950-1955 | Location: Oñati, Spain

University of Oñati

The University of Oñati was founded in 1540. Until its closure in 1901, it was the only university in the Spanish Basque Country. Its building is now the home of the International Institute for the Sociology of Law. Founded in 1540 by the Bishop of Avila, Rodrigo Mercardo de Zuazola under the authority of a bull of Pope Paul III, the University of the Holy Spirit was originally located in Hernani, but in 1548 moved to O ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Oñati, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).