Guernica (Basque: Gernika) is a Basque town known for its Monday market day which has for decades been considered as a holiday in the town.
Airborne bombing by the German Condor Legion in support of Spanish fascists in 1937 destroyed much of Guernica's old town, but several parts were spared and many were rebuilt. Today, Guernica is a thriving commercial town of 37,000 people (2018) with several museums. Because of its history, it has also become an important symbol of Basque culture and identity.
Guernica is the traditional seat of the Basque people's liberties, where the juntas generales (the parliament), established in the 15th century, would assemble under the shadow of an oak tree in the town. The tree, commonly called "The Tree of Guernica" (Basque: Gernikako arbola), symbolises the Basque people's historic and traditional rights (Spanish: fueros), and is represented on both Guernica's and Vizcaya's coat of arms.
The town was the site of the first airborne bombing attack on a civilian town during the Spanish civil war. The bombing, by the Condor Legion of Germany's Luftwaffe in 1937, inspired Picasso to paint the landmark cubist work Guernica, now on display at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.
Guernica lies roughly 35 km north-east of Bilbao on the N635 road to Bermeo. There is a train connection from Bilbao's Abando station departing every 15-30 minutes. There is a train each hour from Atxuri station and the journey takes around 50 minutes. Alternatively there is a bus which is slightly quicker.
The centre of Guernica is easily covered on foot. Free car-parking is available near the Ertzaintza police station (follow road-signs). From there it is a short walk to the tourist office at Artekalea 8. All the main sights can be reached within 10-15 minutes walk from there.
- Gernika Peace Museum Foundation ((Basque: Gernikako Bakearen Museoa Fundazioa, Spanish: Fundacion Museo de la Paz de Guernica)), Plaza de los Fueros 1 (in square opposite tourist office), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Sep-Jun: Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-19:00, Su 10:00-14:00; Jul-Aug: Tu-Sa 10:00-19:00. A thematic museum inspired by the 1937 bombing. It examines the nature of peace, the legacy of the Guernica bombing and peace in the modern world.
- Euskal Herria Museum, c/Allendesalazar 5, Gernika-Lumo, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-19:00, Su 11:00-15:00, public holidays: 11:00-14:00 and 16:00-20:00, closed M. Housed in a Baroque mansion dating from 1733, the museum gives a broad overview of the historical, social and cultural significance of the Basque charter of rights, a background to the region, and some insight into Basque culture represented in visual arts, music, dance and sport. Adults €3, children/students €1.50.
- Church of Santa María de la Antigua: Built in 1826-33 by Antonio de Echevarría in the purest Neo-classical style, this building is used as the plenary meeting hall of the General Assemblies of Biscay.
- Park of the Peoples of Europe (Spanish: Parque de los Pueblos de Europa) with sculptures by Henry Moore and Basque artist Eduardo Chillida
- Assembly House and the Tree (Basque: Batzarretxea eta Arbola, Spanish: Arbol y Casa de Juntas)
- Udetxea Palace, Allendesalazar etorb (in Park of the Peoples of Europe), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Oct-May: M-Th 09:00-13:00 and 15:00-17:00, F 09:00-14:30; Jun-Sep: M-F 09:00-14:30. The palace houses the official headquarters of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, designated by Unesco in 1984. The reserve is a protected area where there is a commitment to sustainable development. Free.
There is a Henry Moore sculpture, "Great Figure in a Shelter", in a small park behind the Picasso Guernica ceramic.
- Lurdeia, Artike auszoa, z/g 48370 Bermeo, ☏ . Casa Rural guesthouse on an organic farm with stunning views over the estuary out to Bermeo. Offers bed and breakfast with self-catering options. The farm has some prehistoric standing stones. About €100/night.
The picturesque fishing village of Elantxobe, perched at the foot of sheer cliffs, is another short bus ride away, and as a bonus, you can watch the bus being spun around on a turntable before it can make its journey back up the narrow cliff-face road.