Buen Pastor Cathedral

We have already talked about the Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro in San Sebastian, and today it is our turn to write about the Buen Pastor cathedral, one of the most emblematic buildings in the city. It is also located in the very centre of it.

History of the Cathedral of the Buen Pastor

The Buen Pastor cathedral was inaugurated in 1897, that is, it is relatively new, with the idea of providing the new district of San Sebastián, which would later be called the Centre, with a temple in keeping with the surrounding architecture.

Although the architecture of the Centre of San Sebastian is mainly French-inspired, the Buen Pastor cathedral is based on German Gothic cathedrals, in particular those of Cologne and Ulm. It is surprising, therefore, that in the midst of Little Paris, a German cathedral is looming.

Thus, the neo-Gothic building stands out in height compared to the romantic architecture, being the second tallest building in the city, only behind the Atotxa tower, just on the other side of the Urumea River.

We could say that the Buen Pastor cathedral is the main building of the second expansion of the city, developed in the 19th century after the demolition of the walls that surrounded the Old Town until 1863. This new area was the summer residence of aristocrats and wealthy industrialists, who gathered in the wide avenues, the landscaped squares and the Paseo de la Concha.

And although there were already several churches in the Old Town where they could go to mass, these holidaymakers considered them to be poor and dark, so the Buen Pastor was built for them. A tall, amply proportioned building with large glazed windows that delighted the nineteenth-century jet set.

Buen Pastor Cathedral

The Buen Pastor being built at the end of the 19th century.

In any case, in order to maintain a connection with the Old Town, the Buen Pastor was built exactly 1,000 yards away, some 835 metres, from the basilica of Santa Maria del Coro. Thus, the new San Sebastian and the old one face each other, a symbol of the union of both parts of the city.

Timetable and entrance

But unlike the basilica, visiting the Buen Pastor is free of charge. As long as the church is open, admission is free. Visiting hours are as follows:

  • From Monday to Friday: 8:30am-12:30pm and 5:00pm-8:00pm
  • Saturdays and Sundays: during worship hours

Buen Pastor architectural style

Another difference between the Buen Pastor and Santa Maria is the interior. Santa Maria, baroque to the nines, has nothing to do with the neo-Gothic sobriety of the Buen Pastor. Moreover, the Buen Pastor, being a relatively new church, has no great altarpieces or works of art added over the centuries. However, it does have coloured stained glass windows, which decorate the walls and columns when the sun shines in, giving the building a magical appearance. That is why, if you can, we recommend you come when the sun is shining. However, it is also an option to visit it when it is raining to take shelter from the rain for at least a few minutes.

Interior of the Buen Pastor.

That said, if you are planning to come to San Sebastian, visiting the Buen Pastor cathedral might be a good idea, as it is a free plan and is the main monument in the Centre, so if you are planning to visit the neighbourhood, a stop here is practically obligatory. Besides, the Buenpas, as we locals call it, is just 5 minutes from La Concha beach and a stone’s throw from the Urumea river, just across the river from the bus and train station, and being such a tall building, it’s hard to avoid.

On the other hand, it is located in the middle of Little Paris, surrounded by beautiful buildings, shops and small bars and restaurants where you can rest after several hours of walking. But if you want to know more about this building and the city, don’t hesitate to take a Free Walking Tour with us, the best way to discover San Sebastian!