On the shores of the Cantabrico Sea, in a rugged terrain, on the slopes of Mount Sollube, inside the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Bermeo is a beautiful and modern fishing village in the País Vasco. Possibly an old Roman colony, the first time the name of Bermeo is mentioned is in documents of donations to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña and later to the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla, back in the 11th century. Although its foundation, without exact date, in the 13th century, was by Lope Díaz de Haro who also granted it the title of town, being the first town in Vizcaya and occupying the number one seat in the General Assembly of Guernika, and the charter of Logroño, the privileges granted from it being important. These privileges were confirmed in later years and by different kings, becoming almost the norm that on approaching Vizcaya-Bizkaia they would pass through Bermeo to swear the privileges, as stated in the oath that is conserved, in which King Fernando el Católico in 1476 promised to respect and protect the privileges of Bermeo, who that same year confirmed the title of "Cabeza de Vizcaya", a title that he held until 1602.
The numerous fires suffered in the town on different occasions, together with the fights of the Biscayan flags during the 15th century, meant that Bermeo had a period of depopulation that endangered its importance, although during the 16th century it recovered and even maintained its prestige. For Bermeo, the 18th century was a time of notable flourishing, given the boom in fishing activity and everything related to it, the construction and repair of piers, breakwaters... In the nineteenth century the wall that closed the town since the fourteenth century was gradually disappearing and its entrances and gates were also demolished, the portal of Erremedio, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, Beiportale ... currently only remains the Portal of San Juan. In this same century, the Carlist Wars and the War of Independence against the French also meant for Bermeo a short "in pass" in its flourishing economic activity, a boom that allowed it, after that, to undertake important improvements in its urban infrastructure and public services and become the second locality, after Bilbao, more populated and richer in the province.
Bermeo, a fishing village par excellence, is a beautiful and peaceful village in which the visitor finds attractive and picturesque corners where the heart beats of a people with a deep-rooted fishing and seafaring tradition. Its Old Port, of great importance in the Middle Ages, which brings together in its surroundings the typical fishermen's houses and the building of the Confraternity of Fishermen of San Pedro, is today, without a doubt, the nerve centre of Bermeo and one of the most emblematic places of the town. Next to the port and with it, the Lamera Park that houses at one end the building known as the Casino that was built in 1894, although the current building is a reconstruction as a major flood in 1983 caused its collapse.
Between the Old Port and the Lamera Park, the 13th century church of Santa Eufemia, rebuilt in the 15th century, is the oldest in the locality. It is believed that it was built at the same time as the town was founded. Since the end of the 15th century, as a watchman over the future and well-being of the port and the Bermeotarras, the Tower Ercilla is the only one left standing out of the thirty that Bermeo had. Today it houses the Fisherman's Museum. Walking through the streets of Bermeo the visitor can admire the building of the Town Hall built in 1732, considered Historic Artistic Monument, has on its façade a curious sundial. In the same square in which the Town Hall is located is the church of Santa María de la Asunción, built in the mid-19th century is the newest in Bermeo, was built in the same place that previously occupied the church of Santa María de la Tala. The 14th century Puerta de San Juan (Saint John's Gate) is the only remaining of the seven gates in the wall.
In the area outside the walls is the convent of San Francisco since 1357, according to documents may be the oldest convent founded in Vizcaya-Bizkaia, consisting of the church, the cloister, and the convent itself. The church was built in the sixteenth century, the oldest element is the cloister, probably one of the oldest of the few remaining in this area of the País Vasco. In the square where the convent of San Francisco is located, and which receives the same name, there is a curious fountain from the second half of the 19th century known as the Taraska. Admire the sculptures and thematic murals that adorn the streets, squares and buildings of Bermeo, taste their typical pinchos while enjoying the maritime and fishing atmosphere of the Old Port... without forgetting the privileged enclave of Bermeo, in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, and what it offers, beaches, coves, islands such as Izaro or Akatz, Cape Machichaco, and the Peña de Gaztelugatxe with its famous hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, as well as hiking routes, GR38 Wine and Fish Route, or the Bermeo-San Juan de Gaztelugatxe Route, in which pilgrimage, peregrination and beautiful views converge, are a good culmination for an unforgettable visit to this beautiful town.
Bermeo celebrates its patron saint festivities "Andramaris" from 7 to 16 September; they are in honour of Nuestra Señora of Almike. Andra Mari or Andramari, "Señora María", an expression that in Spanish is equivalent to Nuestra Señora, Virgen María or Santa María. The day of Andramari, the Virgin of Almike is September 8.
At the end of August, the 29th, an underwater floral offering to the Virgin of Nuestra Señora of Begoña is celebrated at the base of the cliff in front of the arches of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, whose bronze image was submerged and installed in the place at a depth of 12 metres, in honour of all the sailors and divers who die at sea. It is also a tradition that the Town Hall of Bermeo goes to the rock to renew the certificate of possession.
Mount Sollube, which next to the sea, the cliffs and the islands, forms the privileged enclave where Bermeo is located, is one of the five horn mounts, on its summit and the summits of the mountains of Kolitza, Ganekogorta, Gorbea and Oiz, from the Middle Ages until the 17th century, horns were blown to announce to the people the celebration of the General Meetings of the Lordship of Bizkaia.
Legend has it that San Juan Bautista disembarked one fine day in the port of Bermeo and that from three great strides he reached the rock where his hermitage now stands in Gaztelugatxe. And it is said that the traces of these strides remain, the first of them is at the exit of Bermeo, under the arch of the gate of the old wall, that of San Juan, there is a worn stone with a hole in the shape of a human foot, the footprint of San Juan, perhaps for that reason this gate has resisted the passage of time. The second can be seen in Beñaoro, at Cape Machichaco, the third is to be found at the top of Mount Sollube. And from the Puerta de San Juan to the very beginning of the stairs that reach the hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, where the fourth footprint awaits us and when we put our foot on it fill us with energy so that the ascent to the hermitage is easier and more bearable.
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We can reach Bermeo either from Gernika - Lumo, passing through Mundaka among other towns, or from Mungia. We can also do it by the coastal road that connects it with Bakio, passing through such emblematic places as San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.
Bermeo is connected by different bus service lines with Bilbao, Gernika, Mungia, Bakio and other surrounding villages.
Bermeo is connected to Bilbao, Gernika, Mundaka and other localities by a daily Euskotren service. Bermeo train station is close to the Casino, between Kai Bidea and Txibitxiaga streets.
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