A restaurant in the heart of history

Gandarias is located in the only street that Allied troops didn’t torch after the siege against the Napoleonic troops in 1813

Tradition and history mingle in our dishes and tapas from traditional Basque cuisine, but also in our environment. Ours is the only street of San Sebastian that was not burned down on August 31 1813, during the war of independence against Napoleon's troops. José Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, got the throne of Spain in 1808, a situation that made people fight against him and ally themselves with the British and Portuguese troops.

After being defeated at the battle of Vitoria, in 1813 the French army kept 3,000 troops in San Sebastián in order to protect themselves during the retreat. Only the capital of Guipuzcoa and Pamplona remained in French hands, so the Allied troops focused on them.

They tried to take the city. First opening a gap in the wall that defended San Sebastián on July 22, then with a strong attack on July 25, offensive that French troops repelled. At that time a siege began, and it didn’t end until a month and a half later.

The only unburned street

When it seemed that, despite being overwhelmed with artillery of the Allied troops offensive -which also opened new gaps in the walls- the French troops had defended the city from the attack, a gunpowder deposit exploded and depleted the French army which, at the same time, allowed their enemy into San Sebastián. Although some inhabitants of San Sebastián were looking forward to the Allied troops arrival, when they reached the city they took plunder, violence and destruction with them. They also burned down the whole city during the last day of August, but with an exception: Trinidad Street, current 31 of August Street, which wasn’t destroyed by the fire because the troops selected this street as the place where they where going to settle.

San Sebastian lost thousands of inhabitants in that skirmish. Some sources calculate that there were around 3.500-4.000 survivors (there were 7.000 befores the siege). French troops Mota Castle run away to Mota Castle and surrendered on September 8th, after 59 days of siege.

From the ashes and the violence a new city revived. Each August 31, a procession runs along our street, with soldiers dressed as ancient times, in order to remember the devastation, the victims and the strength of those who shortly after the siege got to work to rebuild what the war erased.

Picture: Diario Vasco