San Sebastián – Exploring Mount Urgull

After a few weeks in Europe for work, I’m back home. During this work trip, I had the chance to spend two weeks in San Sebastián, in the north of Spain. San Sebastián (also called Donostia in Basque) is recognized as one of the gastronomic capitals of Europe and is also a perfect destination for hikers like me.

Unfortunately, my work schedule was rather busy, and I was not able to go on long hikes, but I was able to explore a few trails quickly, starting with the ones on Mount Urgull.

Mount Urgull
Mount Urgull overlooking San Sebastián

Mount Urgull (or Monte Urgull) is the small mountain at the end of the peninsula that is looming over the Old Quarter of San Sebastián. At the top of Mount Urgull is a fortress, as well as a large statue of Jesus named El Sagrado Corazón (The Sacred Heart), who seems to watch over the whole city.

Mount Urgull
On the way to the top

Although it is not a very complicated hike (the mountain is only 124 metres high), Mount Urgull is definitely worth exploring because of its historical importance to San Sebastián. It also offers beautiful views of the city and La Concha Bay.

San Sebastian
Beautiful San Sebastián

Mount Urgull began to be used militarily at the 12th century, when ramparts were built there for the first time. Due to its strategic location at the entrance to La Concha Bay, the small mountain was the perfect place to protect the city and the surrounding area. This is also the reason why it was often the location of battles and sieges during the following centuries. The fortress surrendered and passed to the hands of the French for the first time in 1719.

Cannon on Mount Urgull
Ready to defend the city

The French, British and Spanish armies were in turn in possession of the fortress of Mount Urgull, until San Sebastián became a popular seaside destination at the beginning of the 20th century and the soldiers made room for tourists in search of beaches and sun.


Mount Urgull has preserved its old ramparts, its cannons and even an old cemetery where English soldiers are buried. The fortress of La Mota at its summit has a small museum on the history of the region (unfortunately for me, I was rather pressed by the time and I could not visit it).

The Sacred Heart on Mount Urgull
At the top, this statue protects the city

There are four access points to the mountain, the easiest to find is probably the one behind the aquarium near the city’s harbor. Once on the mountain, there are several signs indicating the way to the main sites of Mount Urgull.

As I mentioned before, I did not find it to be a very difficult hike as most trails are paved and the elevation is rather negligible. But it is one of the beautiful green spaces of San Sebastián and as I have a slight obsession for mountains, I absolutely had to go to the top of the one that is the emblem of the city!

Hiking on Mount Urgull
There’s nothing better than a hike on a mountain!


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