San Sebastián holds no pretense. Independent, quiet, humble yet bold, the city is a culinary and artistic experience that excites. Despite having more Michelin-starred restaurants per square kilometer than any other place in the world, the gloriously simple and inventive cuisine of the Basque region, pintxos, is open and easily accessible throughout the city—from the elegant threestarred Arzak to the endless string of boisterous bars in the Parte Vieja, the Old Town. It seems fitting that in this rugged setting in which stone mountains meet the sea—piedra y mar—that Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida crafted his massive, explosive and tense monuments that both oddly harmonize and simultaneously conflict with their surroundings. Similarly, the Kursaal Auditorium, a slanting, glass box on the edge of the city’s old town and main beach, designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo in 1999, is another tribute to the city’s fierce independent spirit in which old meets new. And so it’s also fitting that August’s Clásica San Sebastián is one of cycling’s most modern classics yet already has a rich history.

Words/images: Marshall Kappel

From issue 56. Buy it here.