Art

Declared a historical landmark in 1996 (BOPV-Basque Government Official Gazette, 10th June), the original town centre of Areatza is mostly intact. Following the traditional layout of mediaeval towns, Areatza’s two long parallel streets, Bekokalea and Goikokalea, run from North to South with two perpendicular side-streets, Zubizarra and Ilargi. The town itself is divided into regular sized street blocks, single blocks at the ends and double blocks in the middle, further divided into Gothic parcels where the town’s houses were erected. One of these houses, dating from the end of the 15th century, still stands at Bekokalea Nº 7, the same street along which some vestiges of Areatza’s first fortifications remain.

Architectural heritage:

Today, the town’s municipal swimming pools are found on the site where Leguizamon Tower formerly stood which was demolished to build them. The Tower’s square floor-plan measured eleven metres on each side, totalling eight metres in height and the exterior walls were one metre thick. Surrounded by loopholes was the pointed arch main entrance on the East side of the building.
The 16th century cubic sized Ugunaga or Huegonaga Tower, was erected on another tower from the Late Middle Ages and later reformed in the 17th century. It has a four-sided roof and pointed arches. There is also a building with Mudejar architecture motifs in la Piedad poor quarter.
Located in the district of Ugunaga and dating from 1675, stands Gorordo House, the main façade of which displays a coat of arms from the Axpe Family, with construction commissioned by Juan Abad de Axpe according to an inscription on the same façade. Also from the same period is Guardamino Mansion.

Gortazar Mansion, also known as Riscal Mansion deserves special mention. This urban mansion is an old tower dating to the end of the 15th century, whose 16th century ground floor is built in ashlar, whereas the upper floor is from the mid 17th century and is built in brick. The Baroque allegorical frescos on the façade date to around 1735.

Originally intended to be a school, the Town Hall was built by the Basque architect Luis de Bengoechea (1862) in the 19th century.

The neoclassical Alcachofa fountain is the work of Basque architect Martin de Saracibar (1851). Iturrimorro fountain dates from the 17th century.

In terms of the town’s bridges, Zubizarra Bridge dates to 1730, and Iturrimorro Bridge dates to 1840, and later reformed in 1901, with Karpo Bridge rebuilt in 1925. Windmills to be noted are those of Barrondo, Bekoerrota and Goikoerrota.

Religious heritage

The Parish church of St. Bartholomew stands out for its Ogival style. Built in the mid 14th century and enlarged in 1513, the Gothic entrance is on the South façade. The arch voussoirs are adapted to a rectangular door, with the keystone presenting ornamental motifs, as well as an inscription dating it to 1344. The Plateresque entrance from the High Renaissance on the West façade is divided into three sections: the first is the semi-circular arch entrance, with relief on both sides, and busts of St. Peter and St. Paul in the spandrels. On either side is a column flanked by statues of St. Peter and St. John the Evangelist. The second section contains five vaulted niches, and although the others are empty, both the second and fourth niches present carvings of St. Paul and the Virgin. The third section forms a pediment decorated with three vaulted niches and a relief of Eternal Father in the tympanum.

The original windows were replaced by the vaults we can see today as a result of the inside of the church being transformed in 1870. Further to the vaults, two chapels and the presbytery were also added, within which one can see a renovated Renaissance style altarpiece. Looking up, the visitor sees how the attic is adorned by depictions of Christ, the Virgin and St. John.

In the third section of the altar one finds the Assumption of Mary, and a depiction of St. Esther and reliefs of St. Francis, St. Judith and St. James the Moor-slayer on the sides. The second section displays St. Bartholomew, St. Peter, and St. Paul along with reliefs of the life of St. Bartholomew. The first section is more recent. Finally, below it all there is a double row of reliefs and scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.

Looking back at the first section one sees The Immaculate Conception, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, St. Joseph and St. John. To the right are two altars, one with a relief of Purgatory and a head at the top with an inscription. The other altar, which was built in 1721, contains images of Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Sebastian and St. Agatha, and above them, both St. Anthony of Padua and St. Anthony the Great, with one of Mary Magdalene in between them. There are two more altars to the left, one with a figure of Our Lord of little interest, and the other a modern version of the Sacred Heart, St. Raphael, St. Tobias and St. Roch, with St. Joseph standing above it all.
There are some large paintings of interest of Christ on the Cross, St. Teresa, St. Joseph and St. Thomas. Of note as well is a figure of St. Louis Gonzaga in the presbytery by Basque sculptor Higinio Basterra. One can find an Italian Renaissance painting of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple Hanging in the sacristy, as well as appreciate a Gothic figure of the Virgin which, incidentally, was found in the attic of a house near the church. The Hermitages of La Piedad and St.Thomas date from the 17th century.

The Convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. Founded in 1620, some of the church altars are of particular interest: one in the presbytery showing Baroque depictions of St. Elizabeth and Christ respectively, and two paintings, one of St. Joseph and the other of the Spanish saint, St. Pascal Baylon. Additionally, both the altars of St. Anthony of Padua, also known as St. Anthony of Lisbon and St. Francis of Asis are from the Baroque period. There is a notable figure of the Madonna and Child in a Renaissance style altar. Finally, the organ dates from 1626.

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