Guernica y Luno Tourist Attractions
The town of Guernica, the "holy city of the Basques", lies in the valley of the Río Mundaca (also known as the Río de Guernica). In a square in the town, the Gernikazarra, under an ancient oak-tree, the Council of Elders (Batzarra) of Vizcaya (Basque Bizkaia) met every two years from the early Middle Ages to discuss matters of common concern and transact business. The feudal lords of the region were required to appear before this assembly to guarantee the rights and privileges (fueros) of the Basques. The town of Guernica grew up around the Gernikazarra. The name of Guernica is now forever associated with the first mass air attack on an inhabited town. On April 16th 1937 several waves of bombers of the German "Condor Legion", which supported Franco in the Civil War, appeared over the town and within two hours had reduced it to rubble and ashes and killed 1645 of the inhabitants. Guernica was deliberately used by the Luftwaffe as a test-bed for the technique of area bombing. The massacre inspired Picasso's famous and controversial painting, "Guernica", which during the Franco period was hung in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is now in the new Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Casa de Juntas
The Casa de Juntas, built in 1824-33 around the old oak, is now the meeting-place of the provincial assembly of Vizcaya. Adjoining the council chamber is a chapel faced with colored tiles depicting the lords and the Estates of Vizcaya. On one side of the main entrance, below a classical-style temple, is the stump of the oak-tree. Behind the building is a tall oak, grown from a seedling of the original tree in 1860. The 1937 air raid is commemorated by a piece of sculpture by Eduardo Chillida. The Casa de Juntas also houses a library and the largest archives in Vizcaya.
The church of Santa María, begun in 1418 and completed in 1715, is notable particularly for a series of works by modern sculptors including Inurria, José Capuz and Moisés Huerta.
Cuevas de Santimamiñe
6km/4mi northeast of Guernica are the Santimamiñe Caves, in which paintings of bison, stags, horses and bears dating from the Magdalenian period (15,000-10,000 B.C.) were discovered in 1917.
Guernica is a great center of the game of frontón (jai alai, pelota), which is played on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays in the Guernica Jai Alai Hall in Artekale Carlos and also in the Frontón Santanape.