Not far from San Sebastián in the neighboring riverside city of Hondarribia sits Frontón Jostaldi. The athletic venue plays host to one of the region’s very favorite sports: jai-alai.
But to understand the significance of Frontón Jostaldi, one must understand the game behind it. Jai-alai – often called zesta punta, or basket tip in Basque – is considered by some the fastest sport in the world. That’s because players, decked out in helmets, white pants and colorful tees while wielding a basket-like scoop called a xistera, chuck the ball at seemingly lightning-fast speeds that have zipped by as fast as 188 miles per hour!
Frontón Jostaldi is, of course, where many of these very fast games go down (the word frontón refers to the court itself). Its green-colored courts feature three walls – one to the left, one in front, one to the right – along with the floor space between them. The basic gist of the game requires that the players bounce (very quickly!) the ball, or pelota, off the walls, without letting it leave the designated floor area.
Inaugurated in 1976, this famous sporting venue fits a total of 800 spectators – 600 seated and 200 more standing – and is a great destination for getting to know one of the region’s most beloved pastimes.
Frontón Jostaldi is situated in the town of Hondarribia, not far from the colorful historic center, including the 10th-century hilltop castle.