A medium-sized city with a huge commitment to the environment and great quality of life, Vitoria combines a pretty medieval Old Town with modern facilities and a forward-thinking attitude to urban management. Surrounded by an enviable green belt, the city lives hand-in-hand with nature. The second largest city in the region after Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz is capital of Spain's Basque Country and owes its double-barrelled name to the two languages: Vitoria in Spanish and Gasteiz in Basque. Around 70 kilometres from the northern coast, the city is set on a hill on the plain of Alava and was a major defensive outpost at least as far back as the twelfth century. The local landscape includes Salburua Park, an important wetland area with lakes, open spaces and oak woods, which is home to a wide range of species as well as being a strategic point on the migration paths of many birds.
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