Guernica and its tree

Guernica is a town and a municipality in the province of Biscay, in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, Spain.

Guernica is historically the seat of the parliament of the province of Biscay, whose executive branch is located in nearby Bilbao.

The town of Guernica is one part (along with neighbouring Lumo) of the municipality of Gernika-Lumo.

Guernica and Luno houses the place where the General Assemblies of Biscay met, under the oak tree known as the Tree of Guernica, a symbol of the freedoms of the Biscayans and where in the past, the lords of Biscay, after receiving their title, came to swear respect of the jurisdiction of Biscay.

Guernica is best known both as the scene of the April 26, 1937 bombing of Guernica, one of the first aerial bombings (by Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe), and as the inspiration for Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica, depicting Picasso’s outrage at the attack.

Main attractions

The Tree of Gernika is an oak tree that symbolizes traditional freedoms for the Biscayan people, and by extension for the Basque people as a whole. The Lords of Biscay (including kings of Castile and Carlist pretenders to the throne) swore to respect the Biscayan liberties under it, and the modern Lehendakari (President) of the Basque Country swears his charge there.

An oak tree is depicted on the heraldic arms of Biscay and subsequently on the arms of many of the towns of Biscay. An oak leaf logo is used by the local government of Biscay. The logo of the Basque nationalist party Eusko Alkartasuna has one half red and the other green, the colors of the Basque flag. An old version of the logo of the Basque nationalist youth organisation Jarrai also display oak leaves. The Basque authorities present descendants of the tree as a symbol of friendship to Basque diaspora groups and related cities.

Parish Church of Santa María: one of the best examples of Basque Gothic, it is located in the highest part of the town. Its construction dates back to 1418, in the Gothic style, although it later underwent various modifications; in fact, it was not completed until 1715, the Renaissance period. Summer: check visiting hours at the tourist office.

Guernica Assembly House: built in the 19th century (1826–1833) by D. Antonio de Echevarría in the purest neoclassical style, the building has as its nucleus the Church of Santa María la Antigua, the current Assembly Hall Generals of Biscay.

The park of peoples of Europe houses the sculptures of Eduardo Chillida (Gure Aitaren Etxea) and Henry Moore. This park, inaugurated in October 1991, is home to an interesting variety of trees and shrubs in its four clearly differentiated sectors in terms of structure and composition. On the north side, where the sculptures by Chillida and Henry Moore are located, there is open tree vegetation; to the east, on the other hand, are the four ecosystems of the Atlantic Basque Country: beech, oak, holm oak and riverbank vegetation. In the southern part is the pond and the rest of the park is occupied by a classic garden.

Large Figure in a Shelter: This sculpture, a 1986 work by Henry Moore, brings together all of the English artist’s thematic and formal creation. It is the most significant expression of the “inside/outside” motive. It is made of cast bronze and weighs around 20 t.

Gure Aitaren Etxea: the work of the sculptor Eduardo Chillida, it was inaugurated on April 27, 1988, commissioned by the Basque Government, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Bombing of Guernica. The title of the work means “The house of our father”; It is a monument to peace and is oriented towards the tree, a symbol of the tradition and history of Guernica.

Guernica Peace Museum Foundation: museum on the history of the bombing of Gernika and on the culture of peace. The permanent exhibition revolves around 3 questions: 1-What is peace? 2-What happened in Gernika on April 26, 1937? 3-What is the current situation of peace in the world?

Euskal Herria Museum: located in the Palacio Alegría, it was completely rebuilt in the mid-18th century, on the old site, of which only an arrow slit and a window remain. In it, the characteristics of the baroque style in the urban environment are developed: facade with masonry stone, latticed balconies and the coat of arms of the Allende Salazar family. Today it opens its doors as the Euskal Herria Museum, an ethnographic museum on the history and culture of the Basque Country.

Mural of Guernica: it is an artisanal reproduction of the work that faithfully represents the composition made by Pablo Picasso after learning of the bombing of Guernica on April 26, 1937. The inscription «Guernica Gernikara» (in Spanish, «El Guernica a Guernica»), as the motto of the movement in favor of the location of the original work in the town.

Astra factory: in the old Astra weapons factory, the famous Astra pistol was produced. Now it has been transformed into a cultural creation factory and in front of it you can visit the air-raid shelter built to shelter the factory workers during the bombing of the town.

Pasealeku air-raid shelter: Recently restored, you can visit two of the 4 galleries excavated under the arches of Pasealeku (inside the center for the elderly in Gernika). Inauguration on April 26, 2018.

Air-raid shelter of the TdG factory: Shelter built at the end of 1936 for the workers of the Talleres de Gernika factory, it has been recovered for the 82nd anniversary of the bombing of Gernika, on April 26, 2019.

How to get to?

From Vitoria-Gasteiz 1 hr 8 min (65.0 km) via BI-623

From Bilbao 32 min (35.7 km) via BI-30 and BI-635

From Madrid 4 hr 18 min (425 km) via A-1

Main information

Area: 8 km²

Coordinates: 43°19′01″N 2°40′36″W

Population: 17 093

Languages: Spanish, Basque

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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