Thursday, December 3, 2015


by Robert Bovington

The area of northern Spain that we British know as Biscay is called Bizkaia by the people who live there - but then they are Basques! The Spanish people as a whole call it Vizcaya. Be that as it may, what isn't in dispute is that it is a province in the autonomous region of the Basque Country - known as País Vasco by the Spanish and Euskardi by the Basques. 

Its fellow Basque provinces of Guipúzcoa and Álava share its eastern and southern borders whilst the provinces of Cantabria and Burgos lie to the west. The Bay of Biscay lies to the north, although we had better call it by its Spanish name of the Golfo de Vizcaya. The only sizeable town is Bilbao, the capital of the province although Guernica is regarded as the spiritual centre of the Basque Country. 

Bilbao is a major seaport and is the industrial heartland of the Basque Country. Notable landmarks include the 14th century Gothic Cathedral of Santiago, the Plaza Nueva, the Baroque Town Hall and the Guggenheim Museum.

Bilbao by Zarataman

Guernica lies northeast of Bilbao and was the capital of the former Lordship of Vizcaya. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the German Luftwaffe bombed the town causing great devastation and loss of life. Despite that, there are a number of architectural highlights including the 15th-century Church of Santa María la Antigua, the Museum of Euskalerria and the Casa de Juntas del Señorío de Vizcaya which is the Parliament House. 

Guernica - Parliament House by Zarataman

Just outside the town are the Caves of Santimamiñe - the cave paintings there demonstrate that this area was inhabited in prehistoric times.  

The Urdaibai Nature Reserve is near Guernica. It is a large marshland formed by the Riva Oca and is home to a large variety of seabirds. In 1984, UNESCO awarded it Biosphere Reserve status.

Vista de la Reserva de la Biosfera de Urdaibai desde Txo
more blogs by Robert Bovington... 

"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

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