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A story to tell

"Etiam si oportuerit me mori tecum non te negabo" Though I must die for you, I cannot refuse you

So says Orduña's coat of arms, and so say the hearts of the folk of Orduña, echoing the sentiments of the old Lord of Biscay. Despite being geographically separate, the town is unique in the Basque Country as being an exclave of the historical province, and this territorial devotion has linked it to Biscay since 1284, "for ever and ever".

Historical and Monumental centre

Streets and stones with a tale of their own, all part of a Medieval tapestry, woven about the grand square, with arches on all sides. For centuries, this has been the strategic hub of the town, for its markets and merchants, buying, selling and levying taxes of produce and products in transit between the hinterland and the sea: wool, iron, wheat, fish, carpets, triptychs and altarpieces.

Today Orduña boasts the largest Medieval market-place main square in the whole of the Basque Autonomous Community.

Historical Orduña speaks of territory, commerce and taxation, and the tales its old town tells are always surprising.

Sanctuary to La Antigua

The Virgin of La Antigua is the patron saint and protector of the town and the valley. In the area surrounding the sanctuary we discover the original, secular settlement, one which speaks of its early inhabitants, tied to the land and begging protection from the unknown and from adversity. The cloak of the holy mother, the "Amatxu" has enveloped them since the Middle Ages and the annual celebrations of the "Otxomaios" (the Eight of May) are held in her honour.

The surroundings also tell of earlier, ancestral beliefs where the presence of mythological creatures, gods and goddesses held sway. These paths were trodden by Herensuge (seven-headed dragons), the streams were enchanted by Lamias combing out their hair, while Mari flew over on her way to Mount Txarlazo.

Junta de Ruzabal

They met under the oak in the neighbourhood of Ruzabal, just as they had always done and their fathers and forefathers before them, but this time it was to write down the laws which until then had been passed on by word of mouth -the laws which ruled their community. It was 4th May, 1516.

This unique Administrative Parliament in Biscay has preserved its priceless heritage, its secular institutions are guarded in the spirit of its people and in a strong oak trunk, the Ruzabal kutxa, hewn from a tree felled in the 16th century.