Markina to Gernika

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Camino de Santiago del Norte
Day 10 of our Adventure: WALK!!
Monday September 11, 2017

25km / 15.5 miles / 8.5 hours
Total Ascent: 440m
Total Descent: 515m
Difficulty Rating: Terrain 4; Waymarking 3
Scenery Rating: 3

Markina-Xemein to Guernica (Gernika) and on to Portugalete

On our walk in the rain to the city of Guernica,we stopped by the Monasterio de Zenarruza, a serene spot for rest and reflection, and Munitibar for a cafe con leche.

It is sheer coincidence that we are walking to Guernica on September 11th. Guernica was brutally attacked in 1937 on a peaceful day while the townspeople were at the market, going about their business. The German Condor Legion introduced saturation bombing, pummeling the town with incendiary explosives before passing a second time to strafe the fleeing townspeople. The town was destroyed and thousands were killed.

As a result of the bombing, Guernica has very few historic buildings. However, a sapling of the old oak tree survives in the park surrounding the Casa de Juntas, the seat of the Viscayan Provincial General Assembly.

Picasso’s famous mural depicts the atrocities of that day.

A historic novel, Guernica, by Dave Boling, is a good read. It provides an interesting take on life in the Basque Country during that time, as well as the details of that horrific day.

This was one of our “jump-ahead” days. We skipped Bilbao, and went directly (15 miles by car) to Portugalete. We had been to Bilbao when Mike and I were in Spain in 2003. It’s not like we’d have any time to do the city justice during this trip. Ending at the Gran Hotel Puente in Portugalete in Portugalete, we had barely enough energy to take showers! Walking for 8 and a half hours in the rain was pretty tiring!!

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