The Basque Country is the past, the present and the future. Tradition and avantgarde.
The diversity of this land, the importance of its roots and the will to progress
of the local population, have given shape to a society in which traditional ways of
life and customs rub shoulders with the latest in modern artistic, cultural and
The unique orography of the Basque country, characterised by valleys with difficult access, has
permitted the conservation of a strong popular culture, bursting with myths and legends,
customs, rites and folklore, and enabled the preservation of the language of the Basque people,
Euskera, the origins of which are unknown.
Today these traditions are remembered at the fiestas celebrated throughout the year. In autumn,
winter, spring or summer, the capitals and villages of the Basque Country throw themselves into
their festivities heart and soul. Religious or pagan, these events bring the locals together in
multitudes, adding spice to the calendar while commemorating historic facts and honouring
their saints and patron saints.
One picturesque expression of Basque tradition are the rural sports,
reflection of the everyday chores of the ancient Basques.
The harrijasotzailes (stone-lifters), segalaris (grass-cutters),
or aizkolaris (woodcutters) emulate the work done by the
inhabitants of the baserri (farmhouse). Basque pelota or
the fixed-thwart rowing boat competitions, the most popular
traditional Basque sports, thrill lovers of these events and move a fortune in bets.
Although the Basque Country has preserved the wealth of its folklore down through
the ages, it has also succeeded in complementing its customs and traditions with the
strong culture of innovation present in the actions that now mark the future of the
Basque people. The Basque Country means avant-garde, a factor especially reflected in
1 st Edition: April 2002.
8 th Edition: November 2007
Eusko Jaurlaritzaren Argitalpen Zerbitzu Nagusia
Servicio Central de Publicaciones del Gobierno Vasco
Designed and Produced by: ACC Comunicación
Texts written by: Kultur Web, Idazti
Translations by: Bitez, S.L.
Photographs by: Javier Carballo, Javier Juanes, Agustín
Sagasti, Emilio Javier Dueñas, Lurrak.
Printed by: Gráficas Santamaría, S.A.
© Administration of the Autonomous Community of the Basque
Country, Department of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.
Data updated to September 2007
The partial and/or total reproduction of the text, maps or
pictures included in this guide without the prior authorization
of this Department, and of its authors, is prohibited.
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• Winter fiestas
• Easter and
its art and culture. The impressive Guggenheim never fails
to amaze, even after several visits. The Bilbao Museum of Fine and
Modern Art boasts one of the biggest painting collections in Spain. The Basque Museum of
Contemporary Art-Artium Museum of Alava exhibits a selection of one
of today's most complete, unique and dynamic collections of contemporary
Spanish art. Chillida-Leku takes a novel look at the integration of art with
nature and the human being, and the San Sebastian Aquarium houses
an oceanarium wich is the only one of its kind in Europe. The Kursaal
and Euskalduna Conference Centres, home of numerous fairs and events,
are exponents of this architectural innovation, and contribute to taking
the name of this land all over the world.
But it’s not only these singular constructions figuring among the most important in world
architecture that reflect the ground-breaking spirit of the Basques. This land’s desire for innovation
is also present in the technology parks with their state-of-the-art companies. And in each of
the works of art to be found both in and outside of the different Basque museums. The streets
and parks sport unique creations including the Peine del Viento in Donostia-San Sebastián, the
Plaza de los Fueros in Vitoria-Gasteiz, or the Parque de los Pueblos de Europa in Gernika. Chillida,
Oteiza, Ibarrola or Basterretxea have enhanced the wealth of the Basque territory with their
marvellous works. It is not, however, only these famous names who place the Basque Country
at the forefront, but all of those who dedicate their creative spirit to bettering this land.
And that’s why the Basque Country is yesterday, today
and, above all tomorrow. Faithful to its traditions, the
Basque Country, open to Europe and to the world, strides
towards the future marking out its destination with
every step. That’s the Basque Country, a land of contrast
and integration, of tradition and avant-garde.
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21 st CENTURY