Álava is a province of northern Spain in the southern part of the autonomous community of the Basque Country. The province has a population of 301,926 and an area of 2.963 km² .
It is bordered by the provinces of Burgos, La Rioja, Navarre, Guipúzcoa, and Biscay. Within Álava is Condado de Treviño, an enclave which is part of Burgos province, Castile and León, although there is some support for Treviño joining the Basque Community.
The capital of Álava is Vitoria-Gasteiz, which also serves as the capital of the autonomous community. The province is divided into seven counties (cuadrillas): Añana; Ayala; Campezo; Laguardia; Salvatierra; Vitoria-Gasteiz; Zuya. It also contains the municipality of Berganzo.
In the year 581 the Visigoth king Leovigild founded the city of Victoriacum, trying to emulate the Roman foundations, as a celebration of the victory against the Vascons about what-by-etymological reasons we have to assume it was a hill occupied by the primitive village of Gasteiz. (This data is not sufficiently proven historians and experts believe that Victoriaco not in the current or former Vitoria Gasteiz but in a nearby area, probably at the foot of Mount Gorbea (there's also a town called Vitoria).
In the year 1181, Sancho VI the Wise, King of Navarre founded the town of 'Nueva Victoria' as a defensive outpost on top of a hill at the site of the previous settlement of Gasteiz. In 1200, the town was captured by the troops of Alfonso VIII of Castile, who annexed the town to the Kingdom of Castile. The town was progressively enlarged and in 1431 it was granted the title of City by King Juan II of Castile. In 1463 was one of five villas founding of the Brotherhood of Alava with Sajazarra, Miranda de Ebro, Pancorbo and Salvatierra.
The principal episode in the later history of Vitoria-Gasteiz is the Battle of Vitoria of the Peninsular War on 21 June 1813. The French troops were comprehensively beaten by the Duke of Wellington losing track of Alsasua (Navarra ), Almost all the loot stolen from the Spanish and French control of Spain was ended. There is a monument commemorating this battle in the main square of the city, known as the Monument to Independence - Monumento a la Independencia. Vitória in Brazil was named in honour.
When in late July of that year came the news to Vienna, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel commissioned Ludwig van Beethoven composition of a symphony by reason of this fact. It is the op. 91 Wellingtons Sieg or Die bei Schlachter Vitoria or Siegessymphonie. In 1843, came permission to build the Institute for Media Education, current headquarters of the Basque Parliament and formerly the convent of Santa Clara. In the 1853-1854 academic year began classes bringing to fruition an old dream of the city. The old Institute for Media Education witnessed much of the cultural life of this city. It should be remembered, among other things, the Free University, created in the wake of the revolution of 1868. The University operated from 1869, truncated before starting the course 1873-1874, largely because of the second Carlist War. Suffice it to recall the names of Ricardo Calf Bengoa, Julian Apraiz, Federico Baraibar, and so on. This last, great Hellenistic (1851-1918), was also among the first to Vitoria in the Basque language classes taught there, in the section that would call for extra today.
In full Transitional Spanish, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi was the scene on March 3 of 1976 of serious clashes between police and striking workers. The eviction of the church which was being held in an assembly ended with machine-gun action of the assembly by police, which killed 5 of them and shot more than a hundred.
On May 20, 1980, by decision of the Basque Parliament, which they agreed through their Sedes Act, Vitoria became the capital of the Basque Country.
The old part of the city (el casco viejo), which lies on an elevation, is very well conserved and contains a number of remarkable monuments: Casa del Cordon (a house from the XV century), the gothic cathedral of Sta. Maria (XIV century), the Museum of Archaeology (XVI century) and the Torre de Doña Otxanda (a tower holding the Museum of Natural Sciences). The extension (el ensanche) was built south of the old city centre during the XIX century and contains the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca (a square where the Fiestas de la Blanca start) with the church of San Miguel, Los Arquillos (an arcade), and the Plaza Nueva (or de España, a square that holds every Sunday morning a street market). Further south, the Paseo de Fray Francisco is a wide street sided by mansions, many of which have been recently adapted for public use: the Palace of Ajuria Enea (the residence of the Lehendakari), the Museum of Arts, Museo de la Armería (weapons) and Museo Fournier de Naipes (playing cards).