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(some resemblance to French)




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(some resemblance to Portuguese)

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Cantabria- Santander,  and Bilbao

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¿El Ave o el Transcantábrico?




 Wall Mosaic in Guernica


 Guernica (Gernika in Basque), is situated in the north of Spain, about 30 kilometres to the east of Bilbao. It is a small market town which, although having a prominent role in the development of Basque cultue, is fairly unremarkable. The town, however, has been immortalised by Picasso's horrific depiction of the bombing of the city during the Spanish Civil War.

History of the City

It is believed that Guernica was founded in 1366 in a strategic position close to the estuary of the Mundaka river. Over time, Guernica became an important town for the Basque culture. It was the seat of parliament for the province of Biscay; where meetings would be held under large trees.

By 1512 the oak in Guernica has become the symbol of the indpendence and the democratic ideals of the whole of the Basque country.


The bombing of Guernica occured on April 26th 1937, which was a monday, traditionally the busy market day in the town. The attack was carried out by the Condor Legion of the German Luftwaffe, with support from Mussolini's Italian air legion.

The raid, which lasted over three hours, saw the planes dump over one hundred thousand pounds of explosives on the town. People trying to escape the bombing on foot were gunned down by the planes, with the attackers aiming to cause as much damage as possible.

The Germans, under the Nazi dictatorship, were supporting the Spanish nationalists, led by General Franco. Both initially denied knowledge of the raid, before claiming later that they had intended only to bomb a bridge over the Mundaka river. However, the Condor Legion was made up of Germany's finest pilots; and the length of the bombing made the denials impossible to believe

The bombing destroyed 70% of Guernica. A third of the town's 5,000 residents were either killed or injured, and the city was engulfed by raging fires for three days after the attack.

Importance / Impact

Historic Oak Tree, Guernica It is difficult to overstate the importance and impact of the bombing of Guernica. The most immediate effect was the impact that the bombing has on the Spanish Civil War. The Basque country had been a Republican stronghold; but the brutality of the bombing destroyed the morale of the Basques. They realised they had no chance against an opponent with such aerial strength, and such disregard for humanity. In June 1937, the Basque capital Bilbao fell to Franco's Nationalists.

The Basque region was one of the key industrial centres in Spain which, afterbthe fall of Bilbao, was in Franco's hands. This is seen by many historians as a pivotal moment in the Spanish Civil War. The Nazi state's clear backing of Franco gave the Nationalists a huge material advantage over the Republicans, who were backed by the Soviet Union, but with little material support.

With the Nationalists eventually winning the Civil War, Spain became a fascist state for the next 35 years. The regions, Catalonia and the Basque Country in particular, were persecuted for their role in the Civil War. The state tried to eradicate the regional langauges, as well as many of the unique cultural aspects of the regions.

Second World War

The bombing of Guernica can also be related to events that took place in the Second World War. Many historians believe that the bombing was carried out by the Luftwaffe as a test to see if they could successfully implement Blitzkrieg tactics.

Germany used the tactic many times throughout the Second World War, carpet bombing several British towns (most notably London and Coventry). Furthermore, Britain responded with a similar attack on Dresden.

This new kind of attack has no military reasoning. It was not designed to take out airfields, bridges, barracks or other targets seen as legitimate in war. The attacks were designed to kill civilians, with the aim of destroying the morale of a region or nation. Guernica (along with bombing of Madrid during the Civil War) was the first time that this kind of attack had been carried out with the destructive force of aeroplanes.

Long Term Impact / Guernica Today

The bombing of Guernica has understandably had a lasting impact, not just for the Basques, but for the world. Picasso's Guernica painting, which was commissioned by the Republican government in 1937, has immortalised the destruction of the town.

The graphic painting shows the immense suffering of people and animals, as well as the destruction of buildings that the bombings caused. The painting is currenrtly in Madrid, but there is a replica tiled wall in the city of Guernica itself.

Over time Guernica has been extensively rebuilt and is now a thriving town with a focus on the service industry. It retains a keen sense of its importance in the long history of the Basque country, and also in the modern history of Europe. In recent years, the town of Guernica has become a symbol for peace. The peace museum in the town explains the role that Guernica has represented through history.


Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso

Probably Picasso's most famous work, Guernica is certainly the his most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi's devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during Spanish Civil War.

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world's attention.

This work is seen as an amalgmation of pastoral and epic styles. The discarding of color intensifis the drama, producing a reportage quality as in a photographic record. Guernica is blue, black and white, 3.5 metre (11 ft) tall and 7.8 metre (25.6 ft) wide, a mural-size canvas painted in oil. This painting can be seen in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Interpretations of Guernica vary widely and contradict one another. This extends, for example, to the mural's two dominant elements: the bull and the horse. Art historian Patricia Failing said, "The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture. Picasso himself certainly used these characters to play many different roles over time. This has made the task of interpreting the specific meaning of the bull and the horse very tough. Their relationship is a kind of ballet that was conceived in a variety of ways throughout Picasso's career."

Some critics warn against trusting the polital message in Guernica. For instance the rampaging bull, a major motif of destruction here, has previouse figured, whether as a bull or Minotaur, as Picasso' ego. However, in this instance the bull probably represents the onslaught of Fascism. Picasso said it meant brutality and darkness, presumably reminiscent of his prophetic. He also stated that the horse represented the people of Guernica.

Historical context

Picasso paint Guernica Guernica is a town in the province of Biscay in Basque Country. During the Spanish Civil War, it was regarded as the northern bastion of the Republican resistance movement and the epicenter of Basque culture, adding to its significance as a target.

The Republican forces were made up of assorted factions (Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, to name a few) with wildly differing approaches to government and eventual aims, but a common opposition to the Nationalists. The Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, were also factionalized but to a lesser extent. They sought a return to the golden days of Spain, based on law, order, and traditional Catholic family values.

At about 16:30 on Monday, 26 April 1937, warplanes of the German Condor Legion, commanded by Colonel Wolfram von Richthofen, bombed Guernica for about two hours. Germany, at this time led by Hitler, had lent material support to the Nationalists and were using the war as an opportunity to test out new weapons and tactics. Later, intense aerial bombardment became a crucial preliminary step in the Blitzkrieg tactic.

After the bombing, Picasso was made aware of what had gone on in his country of origin. At the time, he was working on a mural for the Paris Exhibition to be held in the summer of 1937, commissioned by the Spanish Republican government. He deserted his original idea and on 1 May 1937, began on Guernica. This captivated his imagination unlike his previous idea, on which he had been working somewhat dispassionately, for a couple of months. It is interesting to note, however, that at its unveiling at the Paris Exhibition that summer, it garnered little attention. It would later attain its power as such a potent symbol of the destruction of war on innocent lives.

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