Situated between the mountains of Entzia and Iturrieta, watered by the waters of the river Zadorra, seated on a hill, Agurain-Salvatierra watches attentively the eastern Alavesa Plain, where it is located, as if to keep alive the border character of its origins. It is the capital of the Cuadrilla de Salvatierra, which is also made up of four other population centres: Arrizala, Egileor, Alangua and Opakua. According to the numerous archaeological remains found in different sites, the place had population settlements since the Palaeolithic. Being a crossroads of roads as important as the Roman road that linked Bordeaux with Astorga, pilgrimage routes, such as the Way of Saint James that crosses the municipality, and commercial, the name of Hagurahin already appears in a document written towards the 11th century in which the village appears and its duty to pay the contribution of iron or livestock to the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla.
The municipality was founded by King Alfonso X the Wise on the village of Hagurahin, when he granted it the Charter in 1256, going on to be called Salvatierra. It belonged to Castilla and then to the kingdom of Navarra to become Castilian again until King John I donated it to the Lordship of the Ayala in 1382. In 1522, after the disappearance of this lordship, the town of Agurain-Salvatierra once again acquired the status of a royal estate. A terrible event that forever marked the history of the town, in 1546 a plague epidemic caused the death of most of the population and it is assumed that the great fire that devastated almost all of Agurain-Salvatierra was caused to prevent further spread of the disease. But Agurain-Salvatierra knew how to rise from its ashes and without losing its medieval aspect, its dwellers built in their desolate plots beautiful stately homes that have achieved that today its town centre holds the title of historic artistic set.
A walk through the walled medieval quarter of Agurain-Salvatierra invites us to be surprised and to recall its historical past at every step. Its three main and parallel streets, Zapatari, Carnicería and Mayor, house churches and stately homes whose façades bear the coats of arms of the families to which they belonged. At the ends of the main street and joining the wall that surrounded the town you can admire the two fortress churches, that of Santa Maria, built on another previous temple in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and that of San Juan Bautista, from the same period. In the highest area of Agurain-Salvatierra stands the oldest building in the town, the 13th century Romanesque hermitage of San Martín, which today is housed within the walls of the town hall that began to be built a year after the devastating fire.
The convent of the Clarisses Mothers, from the 17th century. The House of the Widows from the 14th century, which is the oldest civil building preserved in the town as it was saved from the great fire. The house of the Begoña, from the 17th century, which displays the weapons of the Ordoñana, Vicuña and Lazarraga families. The house of the Azcárraga family, that of the Bustamante family... The Olbeas, arcades, of San Juan at the end of the 16th century, facing the square of the same name and hosting the Tuesday market since the foundation of the town in 1256. Parks, hermitages, walks through the Opakua gorge, hiking routes in the beautiful environment surrounding Agurain-Salvatierra, all this offers this beautiful town that is well worth a leisurely visit.
Agurain-Salvatierra celebrates its patron saint festivities in honour of the Virgen del Rosario on the first and second weekends of October. The 24th of June the celebration is for San Juan. The Monday following Easter Sunday is the feast day of the Virgin of Sallúrtegui. San Juan Degollado is honoured on 29 August and on 15 August the festivity is due to the Assumption of the Virgin.
In Agurain-Salvatierra on the night of San Juan, the traditional thing is not to light bonfires but to plant a giant poplar in a hole in front of the church, in the square of San Juan. A group of young people are in charge of carrying the trunk of the poplar to which they have left only the branches of the tip, once in the square with great mastery and extreme care and before the expectation of aguraindarras and foreigners, they straighten it and place it in the hole. The party ends when some brave person goes up the trunk to reach the ikurriña at the tip. At dawn on San Juan day, it is also a tradition to go to the fountain of Santa Marina de Agurain, near Sailurtegi, because it is said that if you have a skin disease and at dawn you wash with its waters, you will be healed.
Agurain-Salvatierra and its beautiful natural surroundings close to the mountains of Entzia and Urbasa have been numerous times the scene of great films such as Patton, The Battle of the Ardennes, Cromwell, Robin and Marian or The dead mother in which some scenes are filmed in the church of Santa Maria de Agurain.
The voices of the place say that between the two fortress churches of Agurain-Salvatierra, Santa María and San Juan, there is an underground passageway that connects them and that was used to be able to go from one side to the other of the town without being seen when the population was under threat of war.
The A-1 motorway connects Agurain-Salvatierra with Vitoria-Gasteiz and Irún. The locality is also served by other roads that connect it with neighbouring localities.
Agurain-Salvatierra has a regular bus service that connects it with Vitória-Gasteiz, Pamplona and the different villages along the routes.
Agurain-Salvatierra has medium-distance railway services with destinations such as Irún, Miranda de Ebro, Vitoria, Zaragoza or Madrid.
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