I have been looking forward to visting Gernika, in the heart of the Basque nation, for years. I had read several books about the history and culture of this area. And three years ago we visited a Museum in Madrid where we saw Pablo Picasso’s painting, Guernica. During the Spanish Civil War Franco’s forces bombed the town of Gernika and strafed fleeing civilians. Picasso painted the scene to protest the barbarity of the attack.
For centuries Basque leaders would also meet under a special oak tree—the Gernikako Arbola that symbolizes the freedoms of the Basque people. The remains of this tree are preserved in a special park in the town. Note that Gernika is the Basque spelling of the name of the town, Guernica is the Spanish spelling.
Frankly, I could write pages about our visit to this town, but I’m not going to. I encourage you to read the links in the two paragraphs above. If Basque history and culture interests you, check out the book, The Basque History of the World that I mentioned in this post. I also loved the historical novel Guernica by Dave Boling, which covers the time of the bombing.
Q & A Time
Tom H said in response to a picture in a previous post, “A Spanish donkey? Like DonQui-xote?”
Very punny. However, I guess you can stay retired and don’t need to go back to the day job gig.
The Walk Today
A warm day to a town just before Bilboa. Because we spent a shoe shopping/recovery weekend there we will be passing through and not overnighting. Leaving Gernika we saw our very first stork on this journey. They were common when we hiked the Camino through Spain in 2016. We are also seeing a lot more signs and graffiti advocating Basque independence and asking for political prisoners to be located closer to their home.
What an interesting day you had! Seemed different from most of the places you have written about. Strange that all the churches you visited were locked.
It was very unique. May return some day to explore more. It is disappointing that more churches are locked in Spain than in France—where almost every single one was open. Might be concerns about vandalism or theft. But, I feel a lot more safe here than I do back home in Tacoma.