Vitoria-Gasteiz was chosen as the European Green Capital in 2012 because of its abundance of green space, including its six parks, all within the city center. It is also an up-and-coming foodie destination, with multiple award-winning tapas bars.
The capital of the Basque Country, and its second-largest city after Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz is nevertheless in many ways Euskadi's least Basque city. Neither a maritime city nor a mountain enclave, Vitoria occupies the steppelike meseta de Alava (Alava plain) and functions as a modern industrial center with a surprisingly medieval Casco Medieval (Medieval Quarter), which serves as a striking example of the successful integration of early and contemporary architecture. Founded by Sancho el Sabio (the Wise) in 1181, the city was built largely of granite, so Vitoria's oldest streets and squares seem especially weathered and ancient.