In 2010 the European Commission designated Vitoria-Gasteiz ‘European Green Capital’ in recognition of more than thirty years of environmentally friendly initiatives and sustainable development policies. The Green Belt, a set of peri-urban parks of high ecological and landscape value that accompany the city, is one of the reasons for this distinction.
We invite you to discover the surprising results of a project that began in the early nineties of the last century aimed at restoring and recovering, both environmentally and socially, the outskirts of Vitoria-Gasteiz in order to create a large green recreational area around the capital of Euskadi.
Currently the Green Belt consists of six parks –Armentia, Olarizu, Salburua, Zabalgana, Zadorra and Errekaleor– offering visitors a wide range of environments and a notable wealth of natural features. Woods, rivers, wetlands, grasslands, fields, copses and hedges are a sample of the varied ecosystems that coexist at the gates of the city.
This green infrastructure, totalling some 727 hectares, offers excellent opportunities to walk or cycle, leisure and enjoyment in direct contact with nature. Handy access from the centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz whether by public transport or on foot or bicycle along recently adapted urban paths.
Salburua Park is internationally recognised for its environmental value and since 2002 it has held the title of Wetland of Importance under the Ramsar Convention. This zone is made up of various ponds alongside meadows and a small oak wood that can be travelled via various routes that surround and connect main ponds.
Unique aquatic plants, deer, European mink, insects and endangered amphibians, along with birds such as the aquatic warbler, the purple heron or spoonbill can be observed by walking along these paths.
Ataria Interpretation Centre and two bird observatories, highly appreciated by those who practice birdwatching, help to learn more about this natural wealth. Ataria stands inside a landmark building that perfectly integrates in with the environment, located north of the park and representing one of the most remarkable corners of the Green Belt.
Its permanent exhibition, open free to the public, is designed to promote knowledge of wetlands and display their natural values and, consequently, the importance of the biodiversity and natural heritage of Vitoria-Gasteiz. It also has leisure spaces for younger visitors and a large ball pool.
Armentia Woods is another of the Green Belt’s jewels. This is an extensive natural gall oak wood, located between the city centre and the Hills of Vitoria, combining densely wooded areas in which maples, hawthorns, blackthorn and blackberries grow alongside the gall oaks and other sparser woodland with large clearings where heather, broom and juniper grow.
These environments provide shelter to a rich and varied fauna, including wild boar, squirrels, birds of prey and up to thirty species of small birds such as goldfinches, finches, robins and great tits.
Plant lovers can visit the Olárizu Botanical Garden , in the rurban park of the same name. This space has 7 hectares of Mediterranean woods, however, this will be progressively extended to accommodate major European woods, as well as an zone dedicated to medicinal plants.
You can obtain further information by contacting the Vitoria-Gasteiz Tourist Office