Basque Country

The Basque Country.

The basque country in Spain is known as Euskadi (EUS) or the Basque country, whereas in France it is known as Pays Basque or the Basque Country (FRA)

Map of the Basque Country, south side, Spain

In total there are 41 pilgrim walks within the Basque country. The Camino de Santiago known in English as the Way of St. James, is a network pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-western Spain. Many follow the pilgrimage routes as a form of spiritual path or spiritual growth.

Map of the Basque Country on the northern side, France

The Basque Country borders Cantabria and the Burgos province to the west, the Bay of Biscay to the north, France (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) and Navarre to the east and La Rioja (the Ebro River) to the south. The territory has three distinct areas, which are defined by the two parallel ranges of the Basque Mountains. The main range of mountains forms the watershed between the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins. The highest point of the range is in the Aizkorri massif (1551 m).

The Basque mountains form the watershed, and also mark the distinct climatic areas of the Basque Country: The northern valleys, in Biscay and Gipuzkoa, and also the valley of Ayala in Álava, are part of Green Spain, where the oceanic climate is predominant, with its wet weather all year round and moderate temperatures. Precipitation average is about 1200 mm.

The middle section of the Basque Country is influenced more by the continental climate, but with a varying degree of the northern oceanic climate. This gives warm, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. The Ebro valley has a pure continental climate: winters are cold and dry and summers very warm and dry, with precipitation peaking in spring and autumn. Due to the proximity to the ocean however, the Ebro part of the Basque Country is moderate compared to areas further inland.

The history of the Basque Country began in the Paleolithic period, it is considered one of the oldest ethnic groups in Europe, although many hypotheses are still hanging over its origins… it is at this time, 100,000 years before the current day, that the first remains were found, but it was -35,000 years significant rock paintings were established, in the caves of Isturitz. In the Neolithic period men developed agriculture and livestock, and structured the first villages, so the Basque Country had barely 10,000 inhabitants.

The Celtic people had a considerable influence on the birth of Basque culture, perhaps a part of the language and work of the different materials used at that time. Walking through the southern part of the Basque Country, the remote mountains of Navarre and the southern part of Guipuzkoa and Biscay, one finds Cromlechs, sites with alignments of menhirs and dolmens, characteristic of this important and ancient Celtic influence on Basque culture.

The Romans founded camps at Bayonne, Hasparren and Saint John de Luz and used the Basque ports. They created the Roman language from Bordeaux to Astorga. In Roman times, trade flourished, they introduced the Vine and mined the ore. At that time, the Vascones, the largest Basque ethnic group, took refuge in the mountains, they went back to the fall of the Roman Empire to plunder the cities, they were not guided by any particular leader, which already testified at that time to the emergence of an independent and egalitarian society.

Around this time Christianity gradually entered the Basque Country, with the invasion of the Goths, the region was then under the tutelage of the bishop of Toulouse, Saint Saturnine. From the arrival of Christianity in the Basque Country, its saints, all the traditional patron saints of the Basque summer were born later!

Throughout the Middle Ages, the three (French) Basque provinces often switched from one domination to another, but the most striking at this time is their organization following the Spanish principle of  Fueros, which gave them political and administrative autonomy far ahead of their time, Navarre is then the best example; the Kingdom of Navarre was then at its peak.

Revolution and abolition of privileges marked the end of the Fuero system, the King of France and Navarre became king of the French, Labourd deputies could not oppose the creation of the department of the Lower Pyrenees in 1792, when the proclamation of the Republic and the new administrative re-districting of France, the Atlantic Pyrenees now encompass the Béarn and the Basque Country.

It is from then the feeling of autonomy asserted itself, in fact, the translation of all the official texts into French was rejected by many Basques who asked in high places that they be published in Euskera, so as to be understood by the entire Basque population. Everything was ready for the development of Basque nationalism on both sides of the border, the only response and unifying element to the fractures of this society straddling two countries, and which now defends its language and its “country”.

The Guernica Tree

The 1939/1945 war, Francoism, the bombing of The Spanish Basque villages including the infamous Guernica and the lead cap that would eventually fall all over Spain, Repressing any desire for autonomy and regional identity, on the Spanish side, the radicalization of the movement towards autonomy, culminated in the simultaneous creation in 1959 of two activist movements: Enbata in the North and ETA in the south which means “Euskadi Ta Askatasuna”: “The Basque Country and its Freedom”.

In1975 and upon the death of Franco Juan Carlos, King of Spain legalized the Basque language, just like Catalan, Galician or Castilian, autonomy was on the march, offering further pain and upheavals, ETA was joined in the North by the activist movement Iparretarak “Those of the North”. The Euskadi autonomous community south of the border was born in 1979. The military political branch of ETA gradually became a political party with Herri Batasuna (“united people”) to participate in elections, the new Basque parliament was installed in 1980 in Vittoria.

But not everything remained calm, the 80s, the socialism of Felipe Gonzales in the South and Francois Mitterrand in the North were the scene of the extremist actions of the Armed Liberation Groups (GAL), and the sometimes bloody arrests of Basque political refugees in France by the Spanish police in public places such as bars in Bayonne or Hendaye. Moreover, Francois Mitterrand’s promise to create a Basque department in the North is unlikeley to see the light of day, which does not done to calm matters.

The Basque National Flag
It wasn’t until the end of the 1990s that the peace process committed on the Spanish side finally paid off, but extremism is still there, the demands for autonomy too, they even tend to become radicalized, even if ETA weakened and preferred to talk about political management of the conflict. The Spanish government of Zapatero is playing appeasement, but the laying down of arms is not assured, and on the French side. The evolution of events on the Spanish side are followed with great attention, especially since some concessions granted to Corsica make the French Basque Country talk of the will of a Basque department, rejected by Paris and is always unanimously requested there. In short, the history of the Basque Country continues to be written!

Parallel to this eventful history, the Basque Country has become in the 20th century a very fashionable region in terms of tourism, seaside tourism has developed particularly around flagship cities such as Biarritz, an upscale resort with facilities to measure, Hotels and Thalasso centers, Golf courses, Casinos, and also a trendy and sporty tourism with the development of Surfing and its industry.


Today the Basque Country has taken advantage of its identity to make it not a “Fashion brand”, but to seek its identity of terroir, its traditions and popular festivals, the art of good living, and quality of a protected architectural environment …

Endowed with colour, intensity and depth, the Basque Country welcomes travelers with exhilarating adventure, enthralling history and some of Spain‘s most beautiful spots. Studded with strange villages and bewildering vistas, the region hosts medieval towns aplenty. We take a look here at some of the finest places to visit.

Description some towns and cities in basque Country Colour, Intensity and Depth, Exhilarating Adventure Enthralling History and Beautiful Spots.

Zarautz (EUS) 13th century coastal town in Euskadi, longest beach on the Cantabrian Cornice.
Pasaia (EUS) Typical sailors’ town with mansions around the square overlooking the Bay of

Pasaia Bay

St Jean de Luz: (FRA) in Pays Basque  – Excellent holiday resort, unforgettable charming corners
Bayonne: (FRA) Unique fusion of Basque styles and elegant Gothic buildings. typical charm
Bermeo (EUS) Reverberates with ancient tales.  Marine industries, Monastery of San Juan of Crag (1051)

Bermeo and Blamaseda

Hondarribia (EUS) Medieval fortified city, stage for some of the most famous historical battles.
Sare: (FRA) Traditional architecture dating back to the fifteenth century. Classed as most Beautiful
Biarritz: (FRA) Established as a whaling port, then renowned for its miraculous waters


Getxo (EUS)  Luxurious country houses for the industrial bourgeoisie of 19th century
Lekeitio (EUS) Famous for its San Antolin festival and the renowned “goose race”


© sponsored content