History of the Site

As a result of the health crisis, the museum will be open under special conditions, and this situation will remain in place until further notice.

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To start the visit, in the church we can see the historical evolution of the building that houses the museum. This covers the different stages that it went through, the characters that influenced its development and the milestones throughout its history. All this is illustrated by means of an audiovisual entitled "From convent to museum".


From convent to museum

It all began with the arrival of the Dominicans in San Sebastian, promoted by the Castile Crown, who saw the Gipuzkoa town as a strategic trading post. At the start, the order had support and financing problems and it was not until Don Alonso de Idiáquez y Yurramendi came on the scene that a convent could be built in the city: a typical 16th century monastery with a noticeable trapezoidal floor plan for the cloister and the exceptional Italian dome from the founders' court.

The 19th century brought the War of Independence against the French. San Sebastian was besieged and freed by British and Portuguese troops, culminating in the fire on 31st August 1813, after which the city was practically razed. The Dominicans could not assume the costs of rebuilding the convent and in 1836, as a result of the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizabal, the order was expelled, and San Telmo became an artillery barracks.

From then on, the building suffered constant deterioration which did not go unnoticed at the City Council and in 1921 it decided to buy San Telmo and use it to house a new museum. The inauguration ceremony was held on 3rd September 1932 with a concert by Manuel de Falla, intimate friend of the painter Ignacio Zuloaga, whose influence was decisive to cover the walls of the church with José María Sert's famous canvases.

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San Sebastián, ciudad de la cultura

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  • Ayuntamiento de Donostia-San Sebastián
  • Gobierno Vasco
  • Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa
  • Ministerio de Cultura