Vitoria was founded in 1181 by the King of Navarre, Sancho VI the Wise as 'Nueva Victoria' on the hill where the old settlement of Gasteiz had been. He built fortifications around the town. In 1200, Vitoria was passed to the Kingdom of Castille, taken by the troops of Alfonso VIII. The city was progressively enlarged and in 1431 was granted the title of 'City' by King Juan II of Castile.
The principal episode in the later history of Vitoria is the Battle of Vitoria of the Peninsular War on 21 June 1813. The French troops were comprehensively beaten by the Duke of Wellington and French control of Spain was ended. There is a monument commemorating this battle in the main square of the city, known as the Monument to Independence – Monumento a la Indepencia.
The economy of Vitoria is diverse, and many manufacturing companies have operations here, including Mercedes Benz. The city has been ranked second in standard of living among all cities in Spain, and first as to green areas and cultural places per capita.
Vitoria hosts an important International Jazz Festival every 10th to the 16th, and Las Fiestas de la Blanca, the energetic popular festival, is celebrated from the 4th of August to the 9th.