Category Archives: Euskadi

Basque Fact of the Week: Julen Zabaleta, Master Drawer

Eneko Ennekõike, who is passionate about his home town of Eibar, told me about Julen Zabaleta, a long-time resident of Eibar who died at the age of 101 a few months past. Julen lived through the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He saw the world change dramatically over the last 100 years, with […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Zazpiak Bat, the Basque Coat of Arms

The phrase Zazpiak Bat – the seven [are] one – signifies the unity of the seven Basque provinces – four in Spain and three in France. It is also the nickname of the Basque coat of arms – the Euskal Harmarriak. But wait, there are only six panels in the coat of arms! Hold on… […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basque Refugee Children in the UK

During the Spanish Civil War, particularly the years of 1936-1937, thousands of women and children, many of the latter without their parents, were evacuated from the Basque Country to a variety of countries, including the Soviet Union, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Denmark. I’ll write about some of these others in the future. However, a key […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Zugarramurdi, the Town of Witches

The year is 1609 in a small village at the very northern border of Nafarroa. The Inquisition has just descended on the quiet village, upending it as accusations of witchcraft fly about. Children describe strange rituals that involved Satan, cannibalism, and orgies. Primarily women, some in their eighties, but also men, including priests, are accused […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The House of Haro and the Lords of Bizkaia

I have to admit that, whenever I look into the medieval history of the Basque Country, I quickly get lost. There are simply so many players, so many changing alliances, and so many intermarriages that it is hard for me to keep track – theoretical physics is easier! However, one thing is clear: the importance […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Agotes, Outcasts of the Western Pyrenees

All over the world, people have a tendency to demonize others, to view others as different, as inferior, as outcasts. In Japan, there are the Burakumin; in India, the Dalit. Sometimes there is an ethnic or religious component to this marginalization, but not always. In Europe, there is a group of people who have been […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Mutiloa

Blas Antonio Telleria Goya, my great-grandfather and my namesake, was from Mutiloa, Gipuzkoa. His story is a bit shrouded in mystery – family lore says he was a merchant marine that jumped ship in Argentina and made his way north, but he also appears in the manifests on Ellis Island. In any case, we really […]

Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country

I just stumbled on to the Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country, which intends “to provide an overview of popular culture and lifestyles of the Basques throughout the 20th century up to the present day.” It covers a range of every day activities and aspects of every day life, from “House and Family” to “Diet” […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Sancheski, Skateboard Pioneer

Who knew the Basque Country had a pioneer in skateboarding? Not me! Sancheski, based in Irun, Gipuzkoa, made the first skateboard in all of Europe in 1966. Like Orbea, the company had to reimagine itself when times got hard and new opportunities arose. Starting off as a ski company back in the 1930s, they shifted […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Bilbo, the Capital of Bizkaia

Though my dad grew up in Bizkaia, because I lived in Donostia when I spent my year abroad in the Basque Country, I never really got to know the capital of his home province. Bilbo always seemed a bit foreboding, a bit too big for me to grasp during a day excursion. Of course, I’ve […]