San Sebastián de La Gomera is the island’s largest and most populous borough with an extension of 113 km² and a population of 8.445 inhabitants (2005). This insular capital occupies the old canton of Ipalán in the south-east of La Gomera, the major nuclei being the town of San Sebastián in the north-east and the settlement of Tecina in the south.
The rest of the municipal territory is made up of gullies and mountains, where innumerable abandoned agricultural terraces are still clearly visible and a number of abandoned rural hamlets can be found. Small southern beaches with crystal-clear waters such as El Cabrito, majestic volcanic rocks like Agando, Ojila, or La Zarcita, and mountain woodlands complement the borough’s notable heritage and scenic values.
The Villa de San Sebastián was seemingly founded in the mid-15th century by Hernán Peraza the Elder, who at the time of the Spanish conquest chose the mouth of Barranco de la Villa ravine as a place for the initial settlement. Good natural conditions for the anchoring of ships meant that this location was also selected for the seat of the feudal lordship and consequently San Sebastián became the island’s capital. The village also served as a port of call for various expeditions to the Americas, which followed the visit made by Christopher Columbus on his voyage of discovery to the New World.
The capital condition and good external communication gave San Sebastián a substantial importance, which was transferred into significant urban growth delimited by the edifices of Torre del Conde, La Casa Condal and Iglesia de La Asunción. Since the times of the Spanish conquest until the late 1950s the economy of San Sebastián was based on agriculture and fishing, which started to decay after the port was finally built in 1957.
The insular capital status together with the port development has made San Sebastián de La Gomera the main educational, administrative and logistic centre of the island, with important cultural and trading activity. The architectural offer includes several historical buildings dating from the 15th century which have been designated as the Columbus’ monuments, namely the Iglesia de La Asunción, la Casa de Colón, el Pozo de La Aguada and la Torre del Conde.