It is situated in an environment of great beauty and environmental and landscape value, in the extreme northwest of the province of Alava. On the border with Vizcaya and Burgos, the town of Artziniega is located in the valley that forms the river Artziniega, on the right bank of it. Although the written history of Artziniega begins with its foundation by the king of Castilla, Alfonso X El Sabio, in the year 1272, it is known that the area was populated since ancient times. Prehistoric remains have been found in the Cave of La Iglesia, in Retes de Tudela, as well as Roman remains in the neighbourhood of Gordeliz and in the sanctuary of La Encina.
After a turbulent Middle Ages Artziniega knows a period of expansion and wealth generated by the return of the Artziniegras who made their fortune in the Americas. The combats suffered in Artziniega during the last Carlist War left an important mark in the town where the archives and the civil registry were burned. Today the municipality of Artziniega is made up of the town of Artziniega itself with its neighbourhoods, plus the villages of the Cuadrilla de Ayala that in 1841 were added to it, Mendieta, Retes de Tudela, Santa Koloma and Soxoguti.
Visiting the historic centre, declared a Historical-Artistic Monumental Site by the Basque Government in 1995, of Artziniega is a pleasant and entertaining walk through its three parallel streets communicated by cantons, that of Arriba or Goienkale, that of Medio or Artekale and that of Abajo or Barrenkale. More than 46 coats of arms of different lineages shine on the facades of its mansions and palaces. The Ortiz de Molinillo de Velasco tower, from the end of the 16th century, has a baroque palace attached to it. The old town hall, which is a 19th century construction, once housed the town's prison, as it says on its façade. The palace of Aranguren. The Bengoa tower from the early sixteenth century, the oldest building preserved in the town. The convent of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, where you can see the different construction periods, XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries. The Gothic-Renaissance parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. The Forge. All of them are buildings that we admire as we walk through the medieval framework of Artziniega.
In Artziniega we can also visit the Ethnographic Museum or the Santxotena Workshop-Museum. Do not forget to visit the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de La Encina, patron saint of Artziniega and Álava and the main monument of the municipality. In addition, the town of Artziniega offers us a beautiful natural environment, crossed by hiking trails that bring us closer to splendid places such as the Artziniega waterfall. The dam of the Artziniega river and the fountain of La Teja can be reached by a peaceful walk along the river. The GR 284, The Royal Way of the Sopeña, is a path that keeps the memory of the way used by merchants and traders who passed between the Burgos valley of Mena and the city of Orduña. Today this Royal Way links Artziniega with Soxoguti, Sojo and Añes. And after these healthy walks, what better than to recover your strength with the rich gastronomy that Artziniega offers us. Sausages, cheeses, suckling lamb, cider or txakoli will be the delight of the most exquisite palates.
Artziniega celebrates its patron saint festivities in honour of the Virgen de la Encina on 8 September. On August 14 the feast is for La Asunción. The neighbourhoods of Artziniega also celebrate festivities. In Campijo on 24 June San Juan is celebrated. In Retes de Tudela, the Magdalena is the 22nd of July. In San Antonio-La Venta on 13 June, San Antonio. In Soxoguti Santa Lucía is celebrated on December 13.
What began a few decades ago as one more divertimento of the festivities, today has become a tradition. The Carrera de Bombonas (Bombonas Race), which is held on the Saturday before 8 September and consists of walking as fast as possible along the cobblestone street, in pairs, and carrying a bombona. Also traditional is the Mercado de Antaño in which the inhabitants of the town, dressed as in the Middle Ages, show the works that were carried out in the fifteenth century, thus recreating a medieval market.
The relationship between the town of Artziniega and the villages of the Cuadrilla de Ayala that were annexed to together form the municipality of Artziniega, was regulated by the so-called Junta de Ordunte. In this sovereign institution of medieval origin, without any link either with the town or with the Ayalese peoples, their representatives met to decide on common issues, such as the use of mountains and pasture. The Junta de Ordunte met under the holm oak that exists next to the sanctuary.
It's not legend, but perhaps the passage of time will make it so. In the meantime, it is a curious entertainment for us. Who dares to play? The recent paintings of the portico of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, made by painters from Artziniega, share the limelight with drawings of various current objects. All you have to do is sharpen your eyes and find them.
Artziniega can be reached from Vitoria-Gasteiz via the N-622 and A-624 roads, while Bilbao can be reached via the BI-636 and BI-2604, or the AP-68.
Artziniega has regular bus lines from Bizkaibus that connect it with Bilbao and Vitoria.
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