Site of many battles from the 12th century onwards, Monte Urgull is San Sebastian’s eastern headland and was an important defensive and lookout position until the town’s defensive walls were destroyed by the French and Portuguese in 1863. It is traversed with a tangle of hiking paths and topped by the small, fortified tower of Castillo de la Mota, built around 1150 and once used as a prison.
Today the castle provides glorious views west over La Concha Bay plus its little rocky outcrop Isla de Santa Clara. It also houses a small museum, the Casa de la Historia, which is chiefly memorable as it displays the sword of Boabdil, the ill-fated last Moorish king who saw his kingdom collapse at the hands of Isabella and Ferdinand in the 16th century. Above the castle looms the Monumento al Sagrado Corazón, a statue of Jesus that was erected in 1950 and looks beadily down over its verdant surroundings toward San Sebastian’s photogenic Parte Vieja (Old Town).