Vitoria-Gasteiz aims to make its heritage centre greener, Source: Turismo Vitoria

Vitoria-Gasteiz officials to flood the medieval quarter with greenery

Vitoria-Gasteiz officials to flood the medieval quarter with greenery

The heritage district has four times less verdant spaces per person than the rest of the Basque capital

Vitoria-Gasteiz is a charming small city, which also serves as the capital of the Spanish Basque Country. Like most Iberian cities, it has an immaculately preserved medieval quarter, which attracts tourists and serves as a reminder of the original look of the urban landscape.

However, the local administration has concluded that the old-town district does not quite conform to modern sustainability standards since it has less than 5 square metres of green areas per inhabitant. That’s four times less than the city average!

As an intervention, the authorities revealed a plan today, which includes a strategic greenification of the neighbourhood through the identification of 55 spaces, which will be adorned with foliage. These include facades, rooftops, squares and corners of La Almendra, as the quarter is commonly known. Almendra means “almond” in Spanish and refers to the oval shape of the district.

This will boost biodiversity locally, too

Back in the 12th century when the city was founded by Sancho VI, king of Navarra, it conformed to medieval rules of town planning. That meant narrow streets, a central square and walls that encircled the whole outfit for protection.

Eventually, the walls disappeared and Vitoria-Gasteiz outgrew its original foundation, however, the peculiar shape of its streets in the old town remained. What also remained, however, was the lack of vegetation and cramped spaces.

The City Council has decided to resort to a wide range of interventions in order to make the most of the idea. The project proposes to “flood” the medieval quarter with planters, flower beds, trees, permeable pavements, floodable planters, pergolas, trellises and vertical arbors, benches and flowerpot bollards, flowerpots on facades and soil, among other actions such as the naturalization of the fountain in Plaza Santa María, with aquatic vegetation.

Apart from the climate effect sought, the idea is to boost the proliferation of urban biodiversity as well. To increase the diversity of fauna and encourage the development of local and native species to combat possible pests, nest boxes for bats and birds will be placed in a dozen locations.



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