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A tiled wall in Gernika claims "Guernica" Gernikara, "The Guernica (painting) to Gernika."

Guernica ( ; official and ) is a town in the province of Biscay, in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Countrymarker, Spainmarker. The town of Guernica is united in one municipality with neighbouring Luno ("Lumo" in Basque), Gernika-Lumo. The population of the municipality is 15,571 (2004).

Outside of the Basque lands, Guernica is best known as the scene of the April 26, 1937, Bombing of Guernica, one of the first aerial bombing by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe.

Cultural importance

Guernica is historically the seat of the parliament of the province of Biscay, whose executive branch is located in nearby Bilbaomarker.

In prior centuries, Lumo had been the meeting place of the traditional Biscayan assembly, Urduñamarker and chartered towns like Guernica were under the direct authority of the Lord of Biscay, and Enkarterri and the Durango areamarker had separate assemblies. All would hold assemblies under local big trees.

As time passed, the role of separate assemblies was superseded by the single assembly in Gernika, and by 1512, its oak, known as the Gernikako Arbolamarker, became symbolic of the traditional rights of the Basque people as a whole.

The trees are always renewed from their own acorns. One of these trees (the "Old Tree") lived until the 19th century, and may be seen, as a dry stump, near the assembly house. A tree planted in 1860 to replace it died in 2004 and was in turn replaced; the sapling that had been chosen to become the official Oak of Guernica is also sick so the tree will not be replaced until the earth around the site has been restored to health.

A hermitage was built beside the Gernikako Arbola to double as an assembly place, followed by the current house of assembly (Biltzar Jauregia in Basque), built in 1826.

The Lords of Biscay, on receiving their title, would come to Lumo to make an oath of respect to the Biscayan laws. Later the lordship became attached to the title of the King of Castile, so the kings came to Lumo to take the oath soon after assuming the throne.

In 1882, Gernika - Lumo was formed, uniting the village of Lumo and the chartered town of Guernica .

Modern history

On April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, Guernica was the scene of the Bombing of Guernica by the Condor Legion of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe. 1654 civilians were killed according to the official Basque figures, but the German sources report a round figure of 300 civilians killed in the bombing, according to the German Bundeswehr Magazine (published in April 2007, page 94). The Germans were attacking to support the efforts of Francisco Franco to overthrow the Basque Government and the Spanish Republic government. The town was devastated, though the Biscayan assembly and the Oak of Guernica survived.Pablo Picasso painted his famous "Guernica" painting to commemorate the horrors of the bombing and René Iché made a violent sculpture the day after the bombing.

In 1943, Ajangizmarker (opposite the river Oka) was incorporated without any name change. In 1967 the municipalities of Arratzu, Kortezubi, Foruamarker, Muruetamarker and Nabarnizmarker were annexed.

Because of its symbolic value, the current Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country was approved in Guernica 29 December 1978, with the support of the Basque Country government-in-exile, heirs to the 1936 Statute of Autonomy. Every Lehendakari (Basque President) takes his oath there.

The annexations of 1967 have been re-established as standing municipalities.


Guernica is home to the Guernica Jai Alai, one of the main courts for the jai alai sport.


A minor planet 2293 Guernica discovered in 1977 by Sovietmarker astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh is named after the town.

Sister cities

See also

Notes and references

External links

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