Pasajes de San Juan

Generally marked as Pasai Donibane, in Euskera, there are actually three towns around the commercial port of Rentería (Pasaia in Euskera): Pasajes Ancho (Pasai Antxo), an industrial port; Pasajes de San Pedro (Pasai de San Pedro), a large fishing harbor; and historic Pasajes de San Juan (Pasai Donibane), a colorful cluster of 16th- and 17th-century buildings along the shipping channel between the industrial port of Rentería and the sea. It's best and most colorfully reached by driving into Pasajes de San Pedro, on the San Sebastián side of the strait, and catching a launch across the mouth of the harbor (€0.70 one-way, €1.40 round-trip)—too sweet a side trip to pass up.

In 1777, at the age of 20, General Lafayette set out from Pasajes de San Juan to aid the American Revolution. Victor Hugo spent the summer of 1843 here writing his Voyage aux Pyrénées. The Victor Hugo House is the home of the tourist office; the exhibit Victor Hugo, traveling down the memory features drawings and documents that belonged to the writer. Albaola Factory, a center of maritime culture, is directed by Xabier Agote, who taught boatbuilding in Rockland, Maine.

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