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Thursday, 24 October 2019

San Sebastian

After Wellington defeated the French Army at Vittoria, his British/Portuguese/Spanish armies pursued them to the Franco-Spanish border. He laid siege to San Sebastian and blockaded Pamplona, effectively sealing the border road (La Grande Chausée).

The fortress is not large but it is very well sited, on a promontory jutting out into the Bay of Biscay. The town had a curtain wall and a citadel of the Castle of La Mota.

I copied this map from Frederick Myatt's book, "British Sieges of the Peninsular War".

We walked from the base of La Mota to the castle on a very warm and sunny day.

At the top, there is a museum with a couple of guns outside

This looks like a medieval period breech loader

Inside the very small museum

The lower terrace has great views of the city

The Santiago battery

Looking East from La Mota, over the River Urumea, to Mount Olla

Looking South, over the City

The next two photos I took the following day from the terrace of our hotel and just before breakfast. The sun was very low, just showing above the Chofre Sand Hills. The first shows the Isle of Santa Clara, then Mount Orgullo with Castle La Mota, then Mount Olla.

This photo is the last one of the beach and city.
History timetable.


11th July First siege of San Sebastian starts.

25th July Siege abandoned.

25th July - 1st August The Battle of the Pyrenées. Soult launches the French Army counter offensive to clear the Allies from the Northern Pyrenées passes but is defeated by Wellington's armies. The French withdraw into France.

6th August Second Siege begins.

31st August The town of San Sebastian falls.

1 - 8 September Allies lay siege to and take La Mota citadel.


  1. It's a beautiful city. The fortress in a strikng location. Also the best ice cream I've ever had was in San Sebstian/Donostia. :-)

  2. Sadly, we were only there for the visit to the fortress and then we were off to the hotel and away early the following morning so we did not see much of the city. Also, it was the annual Film Festival,that attracted lots of fans trying to see Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, I would have joined them but I had a fortress to see.