The Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro in Donostia – San Sebastian, occupies the spot where there once stood a Norman church from the XII and XIII centuries, ordered to be built by the Kings of Navarra and which was enlarged between the years 1522-1560 in the Gothic and Rennaisance styles by the Asturians, Kings of Spain.
In the year 1688 there was a large explosion in the gunpowder deposits of the Castle de la Mota, which were kept in the back part of the building, and the church was badly damaged.
The reconstruction work began in 1743, coming from the project of the architects, Pedro Ignacio Lizardi and Miguel de Salazar, a project which we can still appreciate today.
On August the 31st, 1813, the city was burnt by english troops who were fighting the french, who at this time occupied the town. All of San Sebastian burnt, except for the street that runs from Santa Maria to the church of San Vicente, a street which today bears the name of: 31st of August.
A rectangular hall with three naves of equal height which are covered with Gothic vaulting completed in 1771, make up the building’s structure.
The entrance to the church is to be found on one side in the form of a recess and marked by two richly decorated towers. In the recess, the figure of San Sebastian Martir, patron saint of the city, can be seen.
The saint is also visible in the interior of the church where one can see a painting by Luis Boccia from the year 1819.
Also in the interior, are the remarkable classical style pieces which make up the central and side altars, works from Diego de Villanueva and Francisco Azurmendi. The central altar is dedicated to the Virgen del Coro who is, with San Sebastian, patron of the city. The image of the virgin is a wooden carving of some 40 cm, which can be dated back to the XV-XVI centuries. Her sweet expression and dark-skinned complexion stand out.
At the foot of the church, connected by a flight of stairs, one can find the choir. It stands out for the semi-circular choir stalls, a work by Francisco Bocente and Mendia, and also for the excellent Cavaille-Coll romantic organ from 1863, whose facade is similar to that of an old Baroque organ.
The Church was consecrated as a Basilica on the 12th of February, 1973.