The famous Tree of Gernika, Gernikako Arbola, has died, and will be replaced next month.
The tree is a symbol of Basque independence and freedom. Before the wars during which the Basque fueros, or old laws, were slowly eroded, kings came to the tree to swear their respect of Basque liberties. Today, the Lehendakari, or President of the Autonomous Basque Community, is sworn in under the tree.
The new tree will be the fourth such tree planted on the grounds of the council of Gernika. Previous trees have survived war, including the bombing of Gernika by Hitler’s air force, only to succumb to fungi and extreme summer heat. That seems to be what killed the last tree, which only lasted about a decade on the site. It will be kept on the grounds, with the trunks of the previous trees.