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Life goes on placidly in this little valley loved by many for its tranquillity and location – 15 minutes away from Bilbao. The surrounding mountains and architectural heritage reveal a turbulent past of factional fighting and the later prosperity brought about by peace and the indianos.
Gordexola is scattered over a large area of distinctive – and often mutually distant – districts. Upon entering town, and close to its centre, the visitor will find the Ubieta Palace, dating from the 19th century and quite an indicator of those blooming years. The road connecting neighbouring Güeñes and Artziniega is filled with stunning mansions built by the indianos – or locals who had made a fortune in the Americas and then came back, competing with each other for the most impressive house. The buildings were enclosed with gardens of spectacular beauty and size, many of them still neatly taken care of.
Not all times were as prosperous. The churches around are proof that Gordexola has been inhabited for centuries. Central San Juan de Molinar church was erected starting in 1515, and the smaller San Juan de Berbikez temple claims to be one of the oldest in the province. But, above religious architecture, the defensive tower-houses that once belonged to noble families bear witness to factional wars that ravaged the region.
This town endured prolonged hardship since the Middle Ages, when the fortifications were built (Urtusaustegi, Ibargüen, Artekona and Oxirando towers still standing and sporting family shields). The end to such wars prompted an unknown prosperity. It is not a coincidence that the main river in town – Herrerías, Spanish for Forge – is named after the many mills and forges set along its shores.
On a more relaxing note, San Cosme district, situated on top of an elevation within a recreation area, holds an annual festival in which the neighbours erect wooden cabins bordering on perfection. Unfortunately the cabins are removed once the festival is over by the end of September – and the wood safely stored for next year.
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Services / Extra information
- Indiano villas or mansions
- San Juan El Molinar Church
- Oxirando Tower-Palace
- Santa Isabel of Sandamendi Convent
- Ibargüen Tower
Where to eat
- Ulibarri Artzaiak (txakolina eta gazta)