In the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, in the valley of the Oka river and crossed from south to north by this river, is Gernika-Lumo, on the banks of the Guernica estuary, Urdaibai estuary, a natural area formed at the mouth of the Oka river. It is known that there were already human settlements in the area thanks to the archaeological sites found, the Cave of Santimamiñe, whose findings date from the Upper Palaeolithic, Magdalenian period. Gernika was founded as a town in the year 1366 by Don Tello, Count of Vizcaya-Bizkaia, although the name of Gernika is already mentioned in documents in which it appears as the neighbourhood of the Antechlesia of San Pedro de Luno in the 11th century.
The town of Gernika was located at the crossroads formed by the roads from Bermeo to Durango and from Bilbao to Elanchove and Lequeitio. In addition, in its town charter it was granted the privilege of having a weekly market, which together with the large number of tax exemptions and economic privileges made Gernika economically predominant in the region. The following centuries are of continuous fights and disputes between banderizos, as well as of problems with the borders and the jurisdictions with the neighboring antechlesias, these continuous disputes finished with the annexation to the villa of Gernika of the Antechlesia of Lumo in 1882 forming since then the municipality of Gernika-Lumo. But in the 19th century the War of Independence against the French and the Carlist Wars also left their mark on Gernika. The twentieth century saw Gernika-Lumo emerge from the devastating destruction caused by the notorious bombardment of Gernika during the Spanish Civil War.
Gernika-Lumo, the historic capital of the País Vasco, with a marked and charismatic character forged by its history, invites visitors to visit the nerve and vital points of a town that has been redeveloped on the edge and shelter of them. The church of Santa María, a Gothic temple from the 18th century, although its beautiful façade dates from the 15th century; the palace Alegría, from the 18th century, which currently houses the Euskal Herria Museum; the palace Unzeta, which stands out for its height a curious octagonal tower at an angle; Gernika-Lumo has two town halls, the Town Hall of Gernika, which was built in 1816 on the old consistory, destroyed in the bombardment, was rebuilt like the previous one, and the town hall of Lumo whose purpose today is to guard the Archive of Gernika, in the same square that the City Hall is the Museum of Peace and in the center the statue to Count Don Tello, founder of the town.
The buildings, facing each other, of the municipal schools for girls and boys, built in the neoclassical style; the Europe Park, which was inaugurated in 1991, invites visitors to take a thoughtful stroll while admiring the two allegorical sculptures by Eduardo Chillida and Henry Moore, which adorn it; the monumental complex formed by the Gernika Board House, a building built between 1826 and 1833 that keeps in its interior elements of the hermitage of Santa María la Antigua, juradera church that was in the same place previously, the Tree of Gernika, the one that is seen now was recently planted, of the old tree planted in 1742 its remains can be seen sheltered in a templete in the gardens that surround the House of Joints, opposite to the Foral Oak is the juradera tribune. Tree and tribune currently house the acts of inauguration and oath of office of the Lehendakari or the General Deputy; the archifamous mural of the "Guernica"... All this, together with its rich gastronomy, its natural environment, its biodiversity, within the Urdabai Biosphere Reserve, which invites to delight the senses, to be a place of passage for pilgrims on their Northern Way to Santiago, make Gernika-Lumo a place with a special charm.
Gernika-Lumo celebrates its patron saint festivities in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin and San Roque on 15 and 16 August, and on 17 August it is also celebrated as the day of San Roquetxu, the most lively and bustling for the Cuadrillas competition. Lumo also celebrates San Pedro on 29 June and San Lorenzo on 10 August.
In Gernika there is a popular saying that recalls a great tradition that has come to our days, says: "Lunes gernikés, golperik ez", in other words, "lunes ni golpe" and is that once the Monday market in Gernika-Lumo was considered a festive day and holiday, not limited to buying or selling at the fair but also enjoyed a delicious meal to finish watching a ball game in the fronton. Nowadays, it is not festive, the Monday Market of Gernika-Lumo may be the most famous in the whole País Vasco, where visitors and locals come to buy the best local products, creating an unbeatable atmosphere. The big day of this traditional market is the last Monday of October, in which the whole village is filled with food stalls, handicrafts, exhibitions of agricultural machinery, cheese contests, txakoli ..., livestock championships, and what could not miss, its traditional matches of Cesta Punta, a sport that appears in the Guinness Book of Records because in some ball throws it exceeds the speed of three hundred kilometers per hour.
Before being accepted as such, the Lord of Biscay had to swear and respect the Biscayan Jurisdictions and he had to do so three times: in the church of Saints Emeterius and Celedonius at the gates of the town of Bilbao, in the church of Saint Eufemia in Bermeo and in Gernika under the Foral Oak, the Tree of Gernika.
Oral history tells that the Virgin in the chapel of the Casa de Juntas is a miraculous Virgin and cures skin diseases and especially erysipelas. Therefore and with great devotion the women came with their children to the enclosure early in the morning because it was necessary to follow a ritual for the healing to take place which consisted of praying before the Virgin nine rosaries in nine consecutive hours.
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Gernika-Lumo has good communications with the neighbouring towns of Amorebieta, Bermeo, Markina, Mungia, Lekeitio and Bilbao.
Gernika- Lumo has a daily bus service to Amorebieta, Bilbao and Bermeo.
The Euskotren covers the Gernika-Amorebieta-Bilbao and Gernika-Bermeo routes daily and with frequent timetables. The telephone number for further information is 946 251 182
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