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The heart of Bizkaia: The tradition of innovation

The very heart of the Basques, their technological pride, the world symbol of peace, the centre of a great part of the Basque tradition, all of this is concentrated within just a few kilometres. Zamudio and Gernika are to vertices of the present-day situation of Bizkaia: technology and tradition, innovation and feeling, two in one which attests to every day's effort to combine the past and the present. A great achievement.

The route, which begins in Bilbao, takes us along the N-637 road in the direction of the Valley of Asua to Sondika, where the new terminal is being built, designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava for Bilbao International Airport. It is an impressive white structure that we can see to our left. The road continues past Derio to Zamudio. In this town is San Martin church and Malpica medieval tower. But what makes Zamudio stand out is its ultramodern technology park, a real architectural and technical jewel.

We continue past Lezama, where the Athletic de Bilbao has its training facilities, and take the turnoff to Larrabetzu. In this town, in the neighbourhood of Goikolejea is the swearing-in church of San Emeterio and San Celedonio. We leave the town and start the climb to the Height of Aretxabalagana. This is where we notice that the landscape starts to change, we can no longer see towns which are dependent on Bilbao, both physically and in terms of town-planning, and we enter the heart of this rural-looking valley.

We arrive at Muxika and Morga, two small towns with a small town centre, surrounded by country houses spread out on the mountains. We are now near Gernika, the historical foral town which was destroyed by German bombs during the Spanish Civil War. The oak of Gernika, an old oak around which the assembly members used to meet since time immemorial, is currently next to the Assembly Hall, the seat of Bizkaia's government.

Also very interesting is the Park of Peace and the Euskal Herria Museum. If we wish to visit the swearing-in church of Santa Maria we will be impressed by its beauty. In the area surrounding the town there are several beautiful landscapes like Mundaka Estuary (Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve), or Santimamiñe Caves. We can also visit Oma painted wood, by the artist Agustin Ibarrola, which is in the valley that bears the same name, in the town of Kortezubi.

From Gernika we go back towards Muxika, and then continue on the BI 635 road to Zugastieta and there we take the turnoff for Markina-Xemein via Urrutxua. Nearby is the Lookout of Bizkaia. The old part of town is medieval. It is dotted with tower-houses and palaces (Ugarte, Mugartegui, Antxia, Gaytan de Barroeta,...). Special mention must also be made of the so-called Pelota University, built in 1833 and historically the first undercover pelota court in the region. It is a must to visit the hermitage of San Miguel de Arretxinaga. Inside there are some large rocks of unkown origin.

We continue via Arbaiztegi and Gerrikaitz, and then we arrive at Puebla de Bolibar, where we can visit Simon Bolivar's Museum House, the family house of this illustrious liberator. From here we get to the old Way of St. James Guesthouse, Ziortza Collegiate Church, which has been declared National Monument.

We return to Markina and take the road to Durango. We go up to the height of Trabakua and arrive in Berriz and Durango. From there, via Iurreta, we take highway 8 to return to Bilbao.

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