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Guernica is located east of Bilbao in northern Spain. The Basques call it the Holy City. As early as the 10th century, the assembly of elders met here under the ancient oak of Gernika to hold council and dispense justice. This tradition continued until the 19th century. In addition, under the 1000-year-old oak tree, the Castilian and later the Spanish kings took the oath of the fueros (special rights), which guaranteed the Basque Country a large degree of autonomy. In return, the rulers were promised allegiance by the Basques.

Guernica became known worldwide when it was attacked during the Spanish Civil War on April 26, 1937, by planes of the German Legion Condor and the Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie. Gernika was part of the so-called "iron belt" around Bilbao and was bombed during the National Spanish offensive. After two more days, National Spanish troops of General Aranda marched into Guernica.

Spanish historian Julio Gil of Uned University describes the attack this way, "Guernica was one of the first bombardments aimed at wiping out the civilian population. There, the German Luftwaffe tried out the large-scale bombing that it would later use in Poland. Nothing like this was known from the First World War. So Guernicaa was a turning point in the strategic importance of terrorizing the civilian population." (Source: Wikipedia)


The oak tree by the parliament building. It was replanted as a scion of the old oak The original oak died.


Inside the parliament building


Glass roof with illustration of the oath oak.

Rest der alten Eiche

Rest of the thousand year old oak tree

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Replica of the painting "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso on tiles as a full-size mural in the city of Gernika. Click on the image to enlarge!

gotisches Portal

Church of Santa Maria of Gernika with Gothic entrance portal.