It is a municipality of Vizcaya-Bizkaia, located in the valley of Arratia and under the protection of the charismatic mountain Gorbeia. Areatza, its name derives from the uninhabited Arenaza, a sandy place, where the Lord of Vizcaya, Juan Núñez de Lara, in the year 1338 founded it giving it the name of Villa de Haro in honour of his wife María Díaz de Haro.
Villaro was born with the aim of consolidating and giving impulse to the new commercial route that linked the Biscayan ports, crossing the port of Barazar, with the lands of Alava. The town centre of this walled town had just two streets, Bekokalea and Goikokalea and a bridge over the River Arratia. In the 16th century Areatza saw its urban nucleus expand, to the south of its wall and along the road that led to Vitoria, with a group of houses that made up what is now Errukiñe Street. However, the town continued to be a small town of craftsmen and merchants.
When we walk through the town centre, declared a Cultural Asset in the category of Monumental Ensemble, of the medieval town of Areatza, we can appreciate the singular houses that preserve the Basque construction typism. The Tower of Ugunaga or Huegonaga from the 16th century over a late medieval tower and reformed in the 18th century. Gorordo's house, dated 1675 and built by Juan Abad de Axpe, according to an inscription on the façade. The Mudejar House, dating from 1525, is the only one of its kind in Vizcaya. The Gothic House, built in 1490, one of the first constructions in the town. Or the Baroque Houses, palaces from the 17th century. The convent of Santa Isabel, originally built within the wall and whose building of the year 1643 only part of the façade is preserved. The Gortázar or Riscal palace, from the 15th century and built on top of an old palatial tower. The Town Hall, a building that was designed in 1862 to be municipal schools. The parish church of San Bartolomé from the mid-14th century. The fountain of the Aska, known as the fountain of the artichoke for the ornament that tops the column, was built in the nineteenth century and had double use, public fountain and watering place for livestock, aska. They are some of the constructions that we can admire in our peaceful walk through the narrow streets of Areatza.
Bilaro and officially Areatza, at the foot of the Gorbeia, is a good starting point for our hiking and mountaineering activities. The Gorbeia Natural Park offers us the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful area with an incalculable landscape, cultural and natural value. In Areatza we can approach the Parketxea located in Gudairen Plaza, 1 with the telephone number 946 739 279. In this Interpretation Centre of the Natural Park of Gorbeia, corresponding to the Territory of Bizkaia, and from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 6 pm we will extend our knowledge at the same time as our interest and curiosity for this emblematic and mythical place as the Natural Park of Gorbeia.
Areatza celebrates its patron saint festivities in honour of San Bartolomé on 24 August. The festivities of Karpo, the Areatza neighbourhood, and Santa Cruz are celebrated on the first weekend in May.
It is a tradition that on July 31st the feast of San Ignacio is climbed to Mount Gorbea to celebrate this feast. One climbs to the top, one hears mass in Pagomakurre in the hermitage dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Paz or in another hermitage located in Egiriña and also for this date it is allowed to camp in Pagomakurre. Permission that many, especially the youngest, take the opportunity to enjoy a few days in this spectacular environment.
The town of Areatza has two traditional names, with different origins, one romance and the other Basque, and both have been used in both languages. The name Villaro, Bilaro in Basque, is a contraction of "Villa de Haro". This was the official name of the municipality until 1980. One of the existing names for the inhabitants of the village is billiards. On the other hand there is another historical-popular name for the town, which was not official until 1980. Arenaza-Areatza. Known as Arenaza-Areatza because it was founded in an unpopulated area that was previously known as Arenaza. For that reason the population ended up being known also under this name. In euskera Areatza for which its gentilicio is the one of areatzarra. In 1979 the town council decided to change its official name from Villaro to Areatza. This new official denomination was adopted on February 11, 1980.
The Arratia tramway. At the beginning of the 20th century, numerous tram lines ran through the territory, linking the centre of Bilbao with peripheral neighbourhoods and towns. Of all these, the most famous tram was the Arratia Tram, which left from the Arriaga Theatre Square in Bilbao and headed for Lemona. From here it forked to Durango on one side and to Zeanuri on the other. They circulated during many years without suffering hardly modifications or improvements of importance. After the Civil War it began to fall little by little into disuse and a gradual suppression of sections of the lines began until in 1964 the last section between the station of the Basque Railways in Lemoa and Zeanuri was suppressed. There was no trace of their beautiful trams when they were scrapped shortly after their retirement.
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The N 240 that links Bilbao-Bilbo and Vitoria-Gasteiz takes us to Areatza.
Areatza has a bus stop of different lines and services, daily and at different times cover the route Bilbao - Lemoa - Zeanuri.
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