The Tabakalera building was San Sebastians tobacco factory for 90 years (1913-2003). It was a state-owned factory, built on municipal land, after 25 years of complicated construction work.
The tobacco factory was built following the style of old factory houses, around four large patios. It is one of the largest plots of land within the urban area of Donostia-San Sebastian: The main building is a rectangle measuring 113×75 metres.
Tabakalera’s high point was during the 1920s, when the production of cigarettes and cigars was mechanised. In 1925 over one thousand people worked there, the majority women.
During the second half of the 1960s, the factory went through another technological renewal and production reached 250 million packets a year. During this period it ceased to produce Farias cigars to specialise in cigarettes: Celtas, first, and Ducados and Davidoff from the seventies onwards.
After the tobacco industry was privatised in Spain, the new company – Altadis – closed eight of its factories, among them the one in San Sebastian, in 2003. Faced with this situation, San Sebastian City Council, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the Basque Government purchased the building to turn it into an international culture centre.