Pueblos de EspañaGuernica (Province of Vizcaya)

What to do and see in the Guernica?

GuernicaGuernica (Gernika y Lumo in Basque), a small town in the heart of the Basque country, was the ancient capital of the Basque country and a symbol of resistence and independence for Basque people. The Basque laws were written in the shade of the famous Guernica oak tree, under which traditionally the local politicians held their assemblies.

Guernica became a symbol for peace activists after the horrendous bombing carried out by the German airforce during the Spanish civil. The Basques had shown firm resistence to Franco's troops throughout the war, and in April 1937 Franco allowed Hitler's Luftwaffe to carry out the World's first ever aerial bombing raid over civilian targets. The German and Italian armies chose Guernica to carry out their experiment of aggressive aeriel bombing, partly to send out a message to Franco's opponents, and partly because the town had not been damaged at all during the Spanish Civil War, so that the results of the bombing raid would be more easily ascertained.






The German Condor Legion attacked the town on a market day when the streets were full. The town was defenceless as it was in an area considered to be relatively safe during the Civil War. The aircraft's bombs flattened the small town, killing about 1,654 civilians and leaving 889 wounded during a relentless series of strikes which went on for hours. Most of the people killed were women, children and elderly who had been unable to escape from the bombs themselves or from the fire which burnt throughout the town as a result of the raids. Franco claimed that the destruction had been caused by the Republican army, but it was evident that neither the Republicans nor the Nationalists had the capacity to wage war of this nature. The day after the bombing of Guernica, bomb shells engraved with the German eagle were found in the devastated town.

Guernica The attack provoked worldwide indignation and inspired Pablo Picasso to paint one of his most famous paintings, Guernica. Even today Guernica remains a symbol for peace and against the destruction caused by war.

Monuments and things to see in Guernica:

  • Casa de Juntas: Used by the Basque government for meetings, this was one of the few buildings to survive the Guernica bombings. It now houses a museum, the town archives and the symbolic Oak Tree
  • Iglesia Santa María: a 15th century church, Gothic style
  • Iglesia Santo Tomás: 13th century church, also Basque Gothic
  • Iglesia Santa Clara: Modern building with local red marble
  • Museo de la Paz (Peace Museum): With exhibits aboutthe bomb raids
  • Parque de los pueblos de Europa: A lovely park with open air sculptures by famous artists includingChillida and Henry Moore
  • Cuevas de Santimamiñe: Just 4 km. from Guernica,these spacious caves contain paleolithic cave paintings and impressive stalagtites and stalagmites.

Accommodation in Guernica

  • Palacio Urgoiti****: Lovely 17th century palace, recently reformed into a hotel and set in rural surroundings just next to a golf course
  • Hotel Matsa Rural**: Pleasant two-star rural hotel, friendly staff and wi fi Internet access.
    For more hotels consult hotels in Bilbao.



Other useful links
Travel guides to Spain Travel guides to Spain
Guide to Alicante Guide to Almeria
Guide to Avila Guide to Barcelona
Guide to Caceres Guide to Castellon
Guide to Cuenca Guide to Girona
Guide to Guipuzcoa Guide to Lerida
Guide to Murcia Guide to Tarragona
Guide to Valencia Guide to Zamora
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