RELIGIOUIS HERITAGE

Hermitages, calvaries, way of the cross, churches… religious architecture is abundant and diverse in Urdaibai. Religion united to art and to the landscape, to create monumental complexes worthy of admiration.

San Andrés Church

This church in its interior has an extraordinary carved wooden and polychrome dome that has been given the title of The Sistine Chapel of Basque Art. This great wooden ceiling with no central arch and with complicated vaulting is decorated with paintings that represent a complex symbolic world: masks, cranes, pumpkins, gentlemen and monsters are just some of the examples we will find mixed in with the purely Catholic figures. It was built in the 16th century to replace another Medieval church on a hillside of the Elexalde neighbourhood in Ibarrangelu. It is easily recognisable by its tower, crowned by a sculpture of the Sacred Heart of Christ.

San andres de ibarrangelu

Santo Tomás

This monumental church stands on a hill, from which a large part of the municipality can be seen. It was for centuries an obligatory stop for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The church has one of the most important Baroque choirs in Biscay and its portico is considered one of the best of its kind, due to its slab flooring. Like most porticos, it preserves the table of the early local government “Txopitel-arria” or “fiel-arria,” where in past centuries municipal matters were resolved.

iglesia-santo-tomas-arratzu2

Santa Katalina

This is a picture postcard. The beauty of the setting, its strategic location, right at the entrance of the ria, next to the simple beauty of the building, makes for an idyllic photo. The hermitage dates back to the 19th century and is a transition building between Gothic and Renaissance. The walls surrounding the hermitage are ancient remains of the fort from the same era. A pretty path that leaves Mundaka Port takes you easily to the site.

Iglesia Santa Katalina

San Francisco Cloister

This is one of the oldest in Biscay. Its construction began in 1357 by order of Count Tello and his wife Juana de Lara, but the work was not completed until the late 16th century. The complex comprises the church, the cloister and a completely transformed part of the convent, but it is the cloister that is the most important element. It opens up onto the central courtyard through depressed arches supported by pillars decorated with three small columns. The four corners have a segmental arch held by corbels decorated with figure motifs: friars praying, singing or deliberating.

Curiously, there was a time when the cloister was the site of Bermeo market.

Claustro Bermeo

San Pedro and San Pablo de Ibarruri

Gothic hermitage (15th-16th century) considered one of the most interesting temples of Biscay’s rural Gothic architecture. We can find it in the municipality of Muxika. Its depressed arch gate adorned with different motifs and figures of warriors stands out. It also has a fronton that was built on the ruins of the old church that burnt down.

San Lorenzo

Situated in the Isla Bekoa neighbourhood, in the municipality of Gautegiz Arteaga, this 16th century hermitage houses within its walls an 11th century Pre-Romanesque window carved in a single block of stone. On the exterior, a stone altar is witness to the importance that hermitages had in ancient times as a community meeting place or for the celebration of festivals. The views of the ria are exceptional.