Basque Country
  • A Nation Within a Nation


    The Basque Autonomous Region, or Euskal Herria, is a nation in and of itself, split by a border between Spanish and French governance.  It is home to a rich culture and deep history, and is famed throughout the world for it's excellent cuisine.  Nestled in the curvature of the coastline of the Bay of Biscay, it is bounded to the south by the high peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains, creating a verdant terrain of rolling hills and deep forests, green pastures and deep valleys.  It's climate is analogous to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, with abundant rainfall and an economy driven largely by food production, fishing, and lumber.


    In Spain, the region is composed of four smaller Provinces, Gipuzkoa and Biscay along the coast, and the inland provinces of Álava and Navarra in the mountains to the south.  The majority of the population of the region is concentrated in the major cities, Bilbao and San Sebastian to the north, and Vitoria-Gasteiz and Pamplona to the south, but a large farming community toils in the lush hillsides, raising livestock and cultivating unique crops of vegetables and fruit.  Along the coast, fishing is a way of life, with much of the country's famous cuisine built around the local fish stocks that are some of the most well regulated and managed fisheries in the world. 


    The balance between land and sea suffuses all of Basque culture, born through the struggle of taming the difficult land and harnessing the wild sea.  Historically, Basque fisherman roamed far and wide, noted as whalers and renowned for their bountiful catches.  The Basque coastline is formed predominantly of jagged limestone cliffs, and settlement clusters around the estuaries of its many rivers, with large ports like San Sebastian and Bilbao bringing river trade from inland farms to the seas.  In these cities, some of the finest chefs in the world bring together the land and sea in a near-fanatical devotion to locally-sourced and sustainably harvested seasonal ingredients that mirrors the communal passion for their homeland.


    Such is the nature of Basque culture, fiery passions contained within an adherence to a rich tradition and deep history that have been the core of a people that have long been subjected to the often harsh rule of others.  The identity of the Basque way of life has persevered, through the atrocities of the Franco regime and the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, to exemplify itself in a proud, reserved, and steadfastly unique cultural heritage that is evident in every town, village, and farm.  Though officially a part of Spain, stepping into the Basque Region is like entering an entirely different country, with its own language, culture and way of life, that makes it one of the most fascinating places in all of Europe.


Gipuzkoa Province

San Sebastián

Donostia


The City of San Sebastián sits at the estuary of the Rio Urumea, one of the major rivers of Basque Country, and features some of the finest beaches and cuisine in all of Europe. The Old Town District is the heart of the city, drawing tourists and locals alike to walk it's 19th century streets and drink and eat pintxos at its numerous bars. Its history is replete with tragedy, from its destruction by Napoleonic troops in the 1800's and its ignominy as one of the first cities in Europe to contract the Spanish Flu in 1918, to the poverty and repression inflicted upon it by the Spanish Government during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco Regime. Today, however, the city has burgeoned into a popular resort community, and one of the cultural capitals of Europe, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.

Alde Zaharra


Ria Urumea


La Concha


Irún

Pasaía

Zarautz and Getaria

Zumaia

Rural Gipuzkoa

Bizkaia Province

Bilbao

Guernica

Butroi

Mundaka

Playa La Arena

Rural Bizkaia
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