Many visitors to San Sebastian are familiar with Eduardo Chillida’s Wind Comb, Jorge Oteiza’s Empty Construction and Néstor Basterretxea’s Dove of Peace, all of them sculptures placed by the sea that make the coast of San Sebastian an idyllic setting. These three works by Basque sculptors have recently been joined by a new installation, Hondalea by Cristina Iglesias.
Hondalea by Cristina Iglesias
Cristina Iglesias is an internationally renowned artist from San Sebastian, with sculptures in London, Madrid and New York, among other places. In 2016 she received the Tambor de Oro (Golden Drum, the most important award given by the city) and it was at the award ceremony that the mayor, Eneko Goya, suggested she create a work for the city, as up until then, despite the fact that Iglesias is from San Sebastian, there was not a single work of hers in the whole of Donosti. So the artist went into her studio and created Hondalea, a gift for her city and the people of San Sebastian.
What does Hondalea mean
Hondalea, in Basque, means “bottom of the sea” and is a 16th century word that was in disuse. As we can imagine, Hondalea is an installation that represents the sea, its waves and the movement of the water as it hits the rocks.
It is a sculpture that must be seen live, as photos and videos do not do it justice, and for that we have to go to the lighthouse keeper’s house on the island of Santa Clara. This building had been abandoned since the 1960s and Cristina Iglesias has recovered it to house her work.
There are several things to bear in mind when visiting Hondalea. Firstly, it is only open during the summer months, from June to September, as the island itself is only accessible in high season. The island’s motor boats, which operate the route from the port, only work from April to October, as they are at the mercy of the sea conditions, and as we all know, in winter, Donosti is hit by constant storms.
Getting tickets for Hondalea and price
Secondly, to access the work you must make an appointment. This is free and very easy to get through this website. This appointment only includes entering the lighthouse keeper’s house, having to get to the island by your own means, either with one of the motorboats, swimming or canoeing (you can rent umbrellas and paddle boards at different points in the bay).
However, if you would like a more complete experience, you can also visit Hondalea on a guided tour. These last two hours and include, in addition to the entrance to the site, a boat trip around the bay, a tour of the island and the boat back to the harbour.
These visits cost €25, can be booked on the same website and are a different way of discovering a place in Donosti, Santa Clara, unknown even to locals.
It is partly because of this lack of knowledge that Cristina Iglesias chose the island as the location for Hondalea, as it is a part of the city that is known to all, but at the same time mysterious. And it is for this reason that we invite you to visit Hondalea, not only to see the work itself, but also to get to know the island of Santa Clara and its many secrets.