José Otamendi

Few figures are as representative of the modern and innovative atmosphere of San Sebastian in the second half of the 19th century as José Otamendi, who was a teacher, cavalry lieutenant, Basque poet, astronomer, inventor, geographer and mathematician. His was one of the most successful mercantile and business families in the city, which we suppose allowed him to cultivate his interest in science and become a sort of nineteenth-century Carl Sagan


José Otamendi was a generous guy who believed in popularizing science, in demonstrating that scientific advances could be taken to the streets and made available to his neighbors. He aspired to provide science and knowledge to his fellow men, and that is why in 1879 he gave the people of San Sebastian three of his inventions: a meteorological pavilion, a time table and a little cannon that would sound at 12:00 noon to all the neighbors (whether they wanted it or not). With these gifts Mr. Otamendi wanted to share with all his neighbors his love for science. X

Templete meteorológico

Mesa horaria

José Otamendi

Cañoncito de la hora

It is curious to imagine the Donosti of those days, with its elegant garden in Plaza Gipuzkoa, fenced off and traveled by the aristocracy, converted into a kind of science park by Otamendi’s initiative. Today, many people from San Sebastian walk through these freely, accustomed to the bandstand and the time table, without knowing the name of the person in charge of who put them there. Although on our visits we usually try to do it justice and dedicate some other explanation to it.

(Youtube Donostia-San Sebastian 1920-1930)